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FSM Essential Recap: UNLV vs Washington State – Game 10

UNLV Runnin’ Rebels (10-0 / 0-0)  | Washington State Cougars (4-5 / 0-2)

Franchise Sports Media


UNLV controlled the game with their defense and defeated Washington State 74-70 to secure their first 10-0 record in 32 years


UNLV vs Washington State
Photo Credit: Trisha LaCoste/Franchise Sports Media

Washington State was UNLV’s first and only Pac-12 opponent. Four Cougars came into this one averaging double figures. TJ Bamba (16.3 PPG), Mouhamed Gueye (14.3 PPG), Jabe Mullins (14.2 PPG), and Justin Powell (11.5 PPG). However, The Cougars were already 0-2 in Pac-12 play. Washington State had averaged more turnovers (13) than assists (11) coming into this one.

Isaiah Cottrell was still out as he was seen in a boot and on a scooter to alleviate pressure on his injured foot. It’s not a good sign for him, as the last time we saw him in action was against Life Pacific.

Expectedly, Washington State’s Mullins didn’t warm up. It was signifying that he was out for this game. The 6’6 junior is a marksman from three, and it helped UNLV a bit since he wasn’t out there.

The UNLV starting lineup vs. Washington State was Keshon Gilbert, E.J. Harkless, Eli Parquet, Luis Rodriguez, and David Muoka. They are the same starters as the first nine games. This unit has played an average of 8-9 minutes a game together this season and has outscored opposing lineups by an average of 3-4 points.

To begin the scoring, UNLV allowed an inside bucket to DJ Rodman, and Muoka dished down to Parquet, who cut baseline for the one-handed finish. But from that point on, it was a 9-0 run by the Cougars.

UNLV left Powell open for three, and he made them pay for it. Powell was left alone again and drilled a pull-up three. Bamba got on the board after UNLV left another Cougar open from three to give Washington State an 11-2 lead right of the gate.

Harkless made a jumper from the baseline to mend the bleeding, and Rodriguez nailed a pull jumper from mid-range, but the Rebels still found themselves down 13-6 coming out of a timeout with 14:43 remaining in the first.

Gilbert made the first three of the game for the Rebels. Gilbert made another three after Victor Iwuakor prevented a monster dunk from Kymany Houinsou. If Iwuakor hadn’t been there, it would’ve been a massive momentum booster for Washington State.

Unfortunately, Parquet fell to the floor and was slow to get up and headed back to the locker room. It was later revealed that Parquet injured his left knee. As he had a wrap on the afflicted knee, he appeared to be out for the game.

After the game, Kevin Kruger failed to give us any update as he said, “I just know that it bothered him pretty good. I don’t know anything other than what we all noticed that he just didn’t play, and it didn’t feel great.”

Afterward, UNLV must’ve felt for their fallen teammate, as they went on a 10-0 run to take a 22-13 lead with 11:06 remaining in the first. It was highlighted by a Jackie Johnson III lob to Rodriguez and a crowd erupting three from Justin Webster. The Cougars hadn’t scored at all over the last four minutes.

Bamba made sure to stop the drought as he hit a three off a Cougar offensive rebound, and Washington State responded with their own 6-0 run to cut the Rebel lead to three.

UNLV retaliated and went on a 5-0 run but was quickly spelled with back-to-back buckets by Rodman. UNLV gave up another three, this time to Carlos Rosario. After back-to-back buckets by Johnson III and Gilbert, UNLV found themselves up 33-30 at halftime.


Before that, UNLV went five minutes without scoring against Washington State’s zone defense. Kruger needed to adjust, or the offense would have eventually stalled out. UNLV, on the other hand, had forced 16 Cougar turnovers.


UNLV vs Washington State
Photo Credit: Trisha LaCoste/Franchise Sports Media

Harkless got the second half started by scoring seven straight points by himself. It looked like he was going to take a heat check, but he smartly passed it off to Webster for a three. Gilbert scored inside in transition after Muoka protected the rim with ferocity.

However, he failed also to protect the perimeter as the Cougars made back-to-back threes to tie the game up, but a quick four-point swing by the Rebels resecured the lead. Gueye got his first field goal of the game off a ferocious dunk where Iwuakor failed to shut off the inside.

Gilbert scored again, this time through traffic on an up-and-under lay-in after UNLV was able to force the 19th turnover of the game for the Cougars. UNLV’s lead was inflated to 10 at 57-47 with 11:59 remaining in the game.

Gilbert had the UNLV bench standing after converting an and-1 layup while also giving Bamba his third personal foul of the game. Then, Powell was left open and expectedly drained the three, as Washington State was now up to an elite 12-18 from three. 

That was the only thing going for the Cougars at this point, as the Rebels were Runnin’ away with this game because Washington State was not only shooting better than UNLV but outrebounding and out-assisting them. The turnover battle was dictating the game, as UNLV dominated with only five turnovers to the Cougars’ 21.

But it wasn’t over yet as Gueye worked Muoka inside for a score that brought the game within six. After Bamba made a free throw, it was a five-point game with 2:34 remaining. Gilbert quickly got to work and scored inside as the feeling of a comeback started to creep up on the Rebels.

Washington State came down and was looking to make a three, but UNLV was too worried about the drive, and they gave up an open three to Bamba. The score was 71-66 with 1:05 left in regulation.

After free throws for Washington State, it was a three-point game. You could almost feel this game slipping out of the hands of UNLV, especially after Iwuakor missed both free throws. Still, following that up, it was a huge defensive possession for the Rebels that resulted in the Cougars turning the ball back over to the Scarlet & Gray.

After two made free throws for Harkless, this one was effectively over, with the final score reading UNLV 74, Washington State 70. UNLV secured their first 10-0 start since 1990.


Runnin’ Takeaways


UNLV vs Washington State
Photo Credit: Trisha LaCoste/Franchise Sports Media

Gilbert scored a career-high 25 points on 10-15 overall, with 17 points coming in the second half. Harkless went for 20 points, and Webster, alongside Johnson III, combined for 16 points off the bench.

Bamba finished with 20 points on 4-6 from three, Powell had 15 points on 5-7 from three, and Rodman had 14 points and five rebounds. Gueye fell flat with just seven points on 3-10 from the field and eight rebounds.

UNLV forced 22 turnovers on defense, with 12 of them being steals. UNLV also scored 31 points off of those turnovers. This game was only close because Washington State shot lights out from three (56.5%) all game and killed UNLV on the glass (33-20).

After achieving the 10-0 start, Kruger was asked about how he felt being on the same echelon as Jerry Tarkanian, “Settle down, we’re not doing that. The guys have done a really good job of competing every day. But we’ve got to understand now, every game is going to be a bigger challenge, and hopefully, we’re excited and hungry for that opportunity and those eyeballs because it’ll be fun.”

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


The Runnin’ Rebels will now return to the Thomas & Mack Center to take on San Francisco Saturday, December 17th, at 2:00 pm. The game will be available to watch on MWN/SSSEN.

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-Jake Ideguchi-Furukawa – Franchise Sports Media

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