UNLV vs San Diego
Photo Credit: Kyla LaCoste/Franchise Sports Media

FSM Essential Recap: UNLV vs San Diego – Game 8

UNLV Runnin’ Rebels (8-0 / 0-0)  | San Diego Toreros (5-4 / 0-0)

Franchise Sports Media


UNLV struggled early but eventually cruised to victory over San Diego 95-78 to improve to 8-0 as their offense and defense found their rhythm.


UNLV vs UC San Diego
Photo Credit: Trisha LaCoste/Franchise Sports Media

This was the first true road game of the season for UNLV. Isaiah Cottrell was out due to his foot injury despite playing their last time out. UNLV had hit a high of 86 via Kenpom but fell back to 91 while not playing.

UNLV’s starting lineup vs. San Diego was Keshon Gilbert, E.J. Harkless, Eli Parquet, Luis Rodriguez, and David Muoka — the same starters as their first seven games. This combination has played around 60 minutes together this season and outscored their opponents, 106-76.

San Diego’s Sigu Sisoho Jawara kicked the scoring off with a three. Gilbert got the scoring started for UNLV with a flashy layup inside, but Jawara dimed Eric Williams Jr. inside for two.

With 15:54 remaining in the first half, the Toreros led the Rebels 5-3. UNLV started 1-8 from the field but San Diego wasn’t that much better at 2-7.

Jackie Johnson III took the lead with a three. Wayne McKinney III dished off to Marcellus Earlington for the and-1 layup. Harkless made a three from the top of the key to take a 9-8 lead.

Deuce Turner pivoted by Justin Webster for an easy layup. Earlington got a score inside. Johnson III stole a pass and made the layup, totaling five points off the bench, but the rest of the team was shooting just 2-10 combined.

UNLV forced five San Diego turnovers, which was a good early indicator for the defense. The game was tied at 12-12 with 11:57 left in the first half.

Johnson III drilled a deep three after UNLV nabbed two offensive rebounds. Gilbert then scored a tough layup in transition. Then UNLV had a huge sequence from Muoka, who slammed home an alley-oop on one end from Gilbert and then came down and swatted a San Diego layup, leading to a three in the corner from Rodriguez, resulting in a 13-0 run for UNLV. The score was in the Rebels’ favor at 25-14 with 8:52 left in the first half.

McKinney III cut to the basket and got a clean pass for the score inside. But Rodriguez drove baseline and dished it off to Muoka for the dunk, another scoring burst for UNLV, as it was a 6-2 run.

Rodriguez hit a step-back jumper from mid-range to push UNLV’s lead to 14 with 4:40 left to go in the first. Muoka got a post hook to fall inside. Williams Jr. got a putback layup to fall. Then Williams Jr. made a three to cut the lead to 11.

Webster hit a three coming out of a timeout, then Rodriguez got a layup in transition for a quick 5-0 scoring burst. It was UNLV in the lead at 42-26 with 2:46 left in half. Johnson III led the way with 10 points. UNLV’s defense had forced nine turnovers.

Parquet got the steal and ran down to convert it into points with a dunk. Harkless ran in transition and passed it off to Webster, who spotted up and made a three. Harkless then got a driving floater to roll in at the buzzer, and that concluded an electric first half where everything went their way for UNLV.


At halftime, the score read UNLV 49, San Diego 28. The Rebels were shooting 51.4% overall and 42.9 from three while forcing 12 San Diego turnovers. Harkless and Johnson III led the way as they combined for 21 points. San Diego shot 39%, including 3-of-10 from deep.


UNLV vs San Diego
Photo Credit: Trisha LaCoste/Franchise Sports Media

Williams Jr. hit a three to start the second half off. Jace Townsend made it a 5-0 run with a nice floater. But Harkless cut that short with a layup inside. Jawara drove left and kicked it out to Townsend, who drained the three. Harkless then fell to the floor and seemingly gave up on the play, giving Williams Jr. the score inside.

Despite that, the Rebels led 62-41 with 15:39 remaining in the second half. Webster poured it on by making his third three of the game to push their lead to 24. Williams Jr. got called for a technical as he slammed the ball on the court in frustration, leading to two free throws for Webster.

UNLV led 72-45 with 11:55 remaining. Jordan McCabe hit a three for his first points of the game. McCabe then hit Webster in the corner for another three to push their lead to 31.

Williams Jr. scored inside, Jawara got it to Turner for the transition finish, and Jaiden Delaire made a three. But UNLV still led at 84-56 with 7:14 left.

Rodriguez scored again, this time falling away from the hoop, and Keyshawn Hall checked in for the first time and hit his first shot, which was a corner three. Jawara pulled up for three, and Turner hit a contested three to pull within 18. However, San Diego’s late scoring efforts were futile as they fell victim to UNLV, 95-78.


Runnin’ Takeaways


UNLV vs San Diego
Photo Credit: Trisha LaCoste/Franchise Sports Media

Rodriguez came into this one averaging 10.9 PPG, but he had a game-high 19 points on 7-9 field goals and 3-5 from three, as well as five rebounds. Webster and Johnson III combined for 28 points on 6-8 from three, six rebounds, and four steals off the bench. Muoka finished with eight points, eight boards, and four blocks. Harkless came into this one averaging 14.1 PPG, and he had 17 points and five assists but struggled with 1-7 from three.

Williams Jr. led the way for San Diego with 16 points and 14 rebounds. Delaire and McKinney III combined for 20 points, and Townsend chipped in 14 points.

The Rebels had an efficient game, shooting 52.5% (31-59) from the field, as well as 48.1% (13-27) from three. They also forced San Diego to commit 17 turnovers, with 10 of them being steals, while they had only 11 turnovers. The Rebels came into this one forcing 22 turnovers per game, while San Diego averaged 12 per game.

They’re having fun right now. We had a week of layoff, we weren’t sure how we were going to handle that,” head coach Kevin Kruger told reporters after the game. “It was all a result of just how hard they’re playing defensively. Guys doing a really good job running, getting good spacing, and creating good looks for each other, and I think they had a lot of fun out there.”

Don’t forget to go out and support the Runnin’ RebelsClick here to get your UNLV Runnin’ Rebels tickets! 


The Runnin’ Rebels will now come back home but will head on over to Henderson, Nevada to play Hawai’i at the Dollar Loan Center Wednesday, December 7th, at 7:00 pm. The game will be available to watch on Youtube TV.

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