UNLV vs Southern Illinois
Photo Credit: Kyla LaCoste/Franchise Sports Media

FSM Essential Recap: UNLV vs Southern Illinois – Game 5

UNLV Runnin’ Rebels (5-0 / 0-0)  | Southern Illinois Salukis (3-2 / 0-0)

Franchise Sports Media


The Runnin’ Rebels have now won their fifth game in a row after defeating the Southern Iliinois Salukis 56-49


UNLV vs Southern Illinois
Photo Credit: Kyla LaCoste/Franchise Sports Media

Jordan McCabe did not participate during practice earlier in the week and did not play against High Point. But McCabe made the trip to California with the team after missing the last game with an illness.

The starting lineup for UNLV was the same as the first four games, Keshon Gilbert, E.J. Harkless, Eli Parquet, Luis Rodriguez, and David Muoka. This unit has logged around 42 minutes together so far this season and has outscored their opponents 79-57.

UNLV forced the shot clock violation on the Salukis’ first possession. But Gilbert turned the ball over, leading to a deep three from Marcus Domask. Gilbert responded with a deep three of his own. As a result, the score read just 3-3 after 4:13 of playtime.

Clarence Rupert scored inside, then Domask grabbed the lob and scored the bucket in mid-air. Harkless turned the ball over, leading to a transition layup for Jawaun Newton. Justin Webster turned the ball over, and Victor Iwuakor tried to make a play on the ball but was called for goaltending as the Salukis capped off an 8-0 run.

Jackie Johnson III stopped the bleeding with two free throws. Parquet finally got things going for himself by scoring a layup inside.

It was a clunky start for UNLV offensively, but the defense kept them in it as the Salukis led 11-7 with 11:07 left in the first half. The Runnin’ Rebels forced seven turnovers but shot a porous 2 of 15 overall.

UNLV then fell asleep on the corner, and Trent Brown scored a wide-open three. Rodriguez made a nice move on the defender to get a good look and sank the jumper from the charity stripe. However, the Rebels got unlucky as Newton got another three to fall off the glass.

Gilbert hop-stepped inside and elevated over the defense to score the bucket. But Domask was left wide open once again, and he made them pay for it, making the three.

Harkless finally got things going for himself with a three. UNLV forced the turnover, which led to a transition dunk from Rodriguez to cut the lead to six. UNLV forced the shot clock violation, their second of the game, but Iwuakor wasted it by turning the ball back over.

Lance Jones was left wide open, and he made the three. Harkless answered with a three right back, keeping the game within six points. After another traveling violation against the Salukis, Gilbert capitalized with the big man switched onto him. He shook him off and scored the layup while also drawing the foul and converting the and-1. Salukis are still in the lead 25-22.

Brown sank the three in response. Harkless then showed off his ability to change speeds as he burst to the bucket and slowed down to finish softly for two. UNLV forced another traveling violation, and this time Iwuakor was able to convert it into points with a hook shot from the post. But to end the half, Jones got the score inside.


At halftime, the score read 30-26 in the Salukis’ favor. This was the third straight game that UNLV has trailed at the break. Open shots and stats were both hard to come by.


UNLV vs Southern Illinois
Photo Credit: Kyla LaCoste/Franchise Sports Media

Harkless started the second half with a score inside. Rodriguez stepped back and scored the baseline jumper over the defender, tying the game. But the Salukis got the offensive rebound, leading to a corner three for Domask.

Troy D’Amico then scored a three off of a UNLV defensive breakdown. Rodriguez responded with a three of his own, bailing out the defense before.

Harkless pump faked the spin jumper but stayed with it and made a tough contested shot with the defender draped all over him, and UNLV had its first lead of the game. Harkless had two paint buckets already in the second half. 37-36 in UNLV’s favor with 15:44 remaining.

Gilbert then fell to the floor again as he got the and-1 layup.`Domask was left open once more, and he cashed in from three. Gilbert got the offensive rebound and threw up a floater to get the ball back in for two. Domask made the extra pass to Rupert, and he got the easy bucket inside.

Rupert then turned the ball over after traveling, and Harkless gave it right back by traveling himself. That led to Domask scoring a bucket off the glass over Muoka.

Harkless drove and kicked it out to Rodriguez in the corner for three. Harkless then showed off as he worked Domask on the right and scored off his patented spin fadeaway jumper, taking the lead at 46-45 with 6:35 remaining.

After a flurry of offensive and charging calls, Gilbert displayed his handles by swerving his way into the paint and converting the layup. UNLV forced the turnover, and Rodriguez took advantage by scoring the layup to push their lead to five. UNLV now led 50-45 with 3:21 remaining. They held the Salukis scoreless for the last six minutes.

Domask quickly changed that and scored the two. Gilbert wasn’t having that, though. He came back down and scored the layup through traffic as he got fouled. But Domask got free throws, made both, and it was now a three-point game.

Harkless drove into the paint but stopped on a dime, the defender slid on by, and he hit the jumper to extend the lead back to five. 54-49 with 38.4 seconds left. The Salukis tried to rekindle their fire, but Domask clanked a contested three. Gilbert got free throws and made both. Domask tried to sink one last three but couldn’t convert. Leading to another UNLV win as they closed on a 15-4 run. The Salukis fell 56-49.


Runnin’ Takeaways


Gilbert went for 18 points and five rebounds on 70% shooting. Harkless scored 16 points on a shaky 7-16 overall and 2-7 from three after averaging 19.5 points, 5.5 rebounds, and 5.0 assists per game in the wins against No. 21 Dayton and High Point. Rodriguez had 14 points on 6-9 overall and 2-3 from three, as well as five boards.

The Salukis’ Domask finished with 21 points on 7-13 overall, six rebounds, four assists, two blocks, and two steals. Rupert was the only other player of note, with seven points and seven rebounds.

They made it tough on us early. I think their physicality and their help just gave us a little bit of pause in the first half,” Kevin Kruger said after the game. “I think in the second half, we just did a better job with a little better spacing. We did a really good job of making that extra pass. I think if we can start getting some better starts, we’re going to be pretty good.

“They’ve got a lot of really skilled big guys, which also kind of you know, it’s easy to forget about how good and talented and explosive their guards are gonna be,” Kruger said when asked about their upcoming Minnesota game. “It’s a big opportunity, a big challenge. We’re gonna have to do our best to speed them up and just make those passes and those loops as difficult as possible and then finish with the rebound.

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


The Runnin’ Rebels will stay in San Juan Capistrano, California to play Minnesota Wednesday, November 23rd at 7:30 pm. The game will be available to watch on the CBS Sports Network.

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