Spartans outshoot Rebels, taking season series in process
For the third time this season the UNLV Runnin’ Rebels have been swept by a conference opponent, most recently in another home loss.
In front of scattered fans inside the Thomas & Mack Center on Valentine’s Day, UNLV lost to San Jose State, 75-66. The two teams hadn’t met since Dec. 28 when the Rebels lost a 75-72 contest in overtime.
“A lot of things [have] obviously changed,” head coach Kevin Kruger said. “A lot of things have changed but the one thing they’ve done is definitely gotten better, more solid.
“When you have this much time sometimes it can feel like you’re playing a brand new opponent.”
No UNLV players were made available to the media after the loss.
“[We were] good in pockets tonight,” Kruger said. “But obviously not enough to – we didn’t sustain it long enough in stretches to come out on top.”
With this latest loss to the Spartans, the Rebels are now 16-10 on the year and 5-9 in the Mountain West. In addition, the program has lost back-to-back home games and now sit at 8-6 this year inside the T&M Center.
UNLV will return to the road to finish a regular season series with the Boise State Broncos Sunday, Feb. 19. Tip-off is set for 6 p.m.
After cutting the deficit down to a point in the second half, San Jose State forward Trey Anderson splashed a three-point basket to push it back to four. Anderson went 5-for-7 from three, scoring 19 points in the process.
“I thought they made the ones they needed to,” Kruger said. “Forty percent from three is obviously a very good number. Trey Anderson shot the eyes out of it – [SJSU guard] Omari Moore hit some tough stepback threes.”
Later in the second half, it was Spartans forward Tibet Gorener hit back-to-back threes to extend the lead to double-digits. Not long after, UNLV would fall down by as many as 14 points. The dagger three came at the 4:50 mark when Moore hit one of his three made three-pointers.
By the final buzzer, the visitors had shot 48% from the field including a 40% mark from deep. On the other end, the Rebels shot 28% from three and 37% from the floor, including 26% in the second half.
“We’ve just got to keep moving it,” Kruger said. “Get some movement, get some spacing, obviously we started pressing there at the end to try and get quick buckets.”
In terms of threes, UNLV opened the game with two made deep balls in the first two and half minutes before making three the remainder of the game.
Coming into the game, San Jose State ranked as the second-best rebounding team in the Mountain West and proceeded to win the rebound advantage in this one by +12.
Fifth-year guard EJ Harkless led the Rebels in scoring with 19 points on 5-of-12 shooting. His performance was sparked by 10 points in the second half in the failed comeback effort.
Sophomore guard Kehson Gilbert reached double-figures with 13 points on 5-for-14 shooting. Gilbert completed an and-one layup plus the free throw to give UNLV the 25-24 lead. That would serve as the last lead of the game for the home team as San Jose State went on a 7-0 run to take control of the game.
Senior guard Justin Webster hit a three-point basket at the buzzer to cross over into double-digit territory, ending the night with 12 points with two made threes.