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UNLV cruises to a New Year’s Eve ‘W’ over Carroll College

In the second to last non-conference game of the 2023-24 campaign, the UNLV Runnin’ Rebels took care of business over Carroll College, winning by a final score of 87-51.

UNLV runs its record to 6-5 on the season with their final non-conference game coming up Tuesday, Jan. 2 versus Bethesda from inside the Cox Pavilion. Tip-off is set for 1 p.m. This game was added to the schedule a few weeks ago after their game against Dayton was canceled due to the Dec. 6 shooting on the campus of UNLV.

The Runnin’ Rebels have a chance to end their non-conference slate with a winning record if they win Tuesday’s game. UNLV would head into conference play with a 7-5 mark with SDSU being the first conference opponent awaiting the program.

“Good overall game,” head coach Kevin Kruger said. “We talked a lot over the last four weeks about how we want people to think about us and what coaches are saying about us when they prepare for us.”

Fifth-year guard Justin Webster and fifth-year forward Kalib Boone led the way for the Rebels, scoring 16 and 15 points respectively while also grabbing three steals for Webster and four steals for Boone to go along with the 15 totals steals for the team.

“The goal was simple, we wanted to come in and establish our identity,” Webster said. “Our first ten games, we hadn’t really established that so we wanted to make sure we established our identity by running, guarding the ball, keeping the ball in front, and rebounding. For the most part, we did that and we’re able to come out of here with a good win.”

Five different Rebels cracked double-digit scoring in this one with three of the five being starters. Every Rebel that checked into the game on the day scored at least one point.

The Runnin’ Rebels lived up to their name in this one as they outscored Carroll 21-4 in fastbreak points. UNLV was also able to score 28 points off of the 25 turnovers they forced.

“I thought we had multiple guys running,” Kruger said. “I thought we had multiple options each time. We made a lot of good decisions even if it wasn’t passing. We also made a lot of mistakes in the transition game which is where a handful of our turnovers came from.”

After trading buckets the opening seven and a half minutes of the game, UNLV used a 14-0 run to spark the offense and never looked back. During this run, the Rebels held the Fighting Saints scoreless for nearly seven minutes.

“It was the difference really,” Kruger said. “We came out and Carroll was playing really hard up and down the floor a few times so I think we recognized pretty quick that we didn’t want to change our approach but just do what we wanted to do and want our identity to be which is diving on the floor, making plays for each other, and guard the ball. To go on that run and create that separation was definitely the turning point.”

To go along with the theme of defense and transition in this one, UNLV also set a season-high in blocked shots, rejecting ten different field goal attempts.

“We just locked in and did what we had to do,” Webster said. “It goes back to Krug telling us to establish our identity. Keeping the ball in front takes a load off of those guys. Lapses are going to happen sometimes where we get beat and they come and help us. Tonight, we played together. We played as a team and were able to be efficient on the defensive end.”

With 49 seconds to play in the game, senior guard Nick Walters knocked down a three-point shot from the left corner for his first points of the season. The shot got the Thomas & Mack crowd loud and excited as Walters is a Coronado High School product and College of Southern Nevada transfer out of Henderson, Nevada.

“That was the best moment of the whole season right there,” Boone said, “We were on the bench trying to convince him to go sit closer up the bench and he didn’t want to. We were like ‘You can’t run from it. We did our job which was to get a big enough lead to get Nick in the game.’ We told him to go shoot a three and score and he did that so we were happy."


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