Monday, Nov. 20, 2023 | 2 a.m.
UNLV vs. Florida State
Monday, 2:30 p.m.
Ocean Center (Daytona Beach, Fla.)
CBS Sports Network
UNLV recorded its first road win on Friday, and now Kevin Kruger and his crew are heading to the Sunshine State for a pair of neutral-site contests that should tell us a lot about this team.
The four-team Sunshine Slam tips off Monday, with UNLV facing off against Florida State (2:30 p.m., CBS Sports Network) in a key non-conference matchup for the Scarlet and Gray.
Three keys to watch:
Protect the ball
Turnovers were a big problem in UNLV’s season-opening loss to Southern University, and many of those 13 giveaways were unforced.
With Kruger stressing ball security, UNLV has slashed its turnovers over the past two games, committing just 15 in the last 80 minutes of action. Freshman point guard D.J. Thomas has been the biggest factor, dishing out 14 assists with zero turnovers during that span.
Look for UNLV to put the ball in Thomas’s hands against Florida State as he continues to assume more control of the offense.
Big man tandem
Kruger is still tinkering with the rotation in these early games, and so far he appears to like the combined production he’s getting from the center position.
Junior Isaiah Cottrell has started all three games so far, with senior Kalib Boone subbing in (after serving a one-game suspension against Southern). Their skill sets are complementary; Cottrell is an outside shooter, making 4-of-10 from 3-point range, while Boone is a post threat, averaging 14.0 points on 72.2% shooting.
Boone has played more minutes than Cottrell in each of the past two games; we’ll have to see if Kruger promotes him to the starting lineup against Florida State, or if he prefers Cottrell’s floor-stretching talents among the starting five.
If the Scarlet and Gray want to climb the rankings, it would behoove them to beat Florida State. Though the Seminoles are a modest 83rd in the KenPom ratings, a victory on Monday would likely earn UNLV a shot at Colorado on Tuesday, and that’s the real prize of the Sunshine Slam.
Colorado is ranked 23rd, which would give UNLV the kind of strength-of-schedule boost that it needs after the loss to Southern. The Scarlet and Gray enter Monday’s game at No. 93 in KenPom.
What: UNLV (2-1) vs. Florida State (2-1)
When: Monday, 2:30 p.m.
Where: Ocean Center (Daytona Beach, Fla.)
TV: CBS Sports Network
Jalen Hill/Luis Rodriguez: 13.3 points
D.J. Thomas: 6.3 assists
Jalen Hill: 8.7 rebounds
Florida State leaders
Cameron Corhen/Darin Green: 12.7 points
Jamir Watkins: 3.3 assists
Cameron Corhen: 5.0 rebounds