Connect with us



UNLV vs Utah State

Steve Marcus

UNLV Rebels forward Rob Whaley Jr. (5) celebrates a play against the Utah State Aggies during the first half of a NCAA basketball game at the Thomas & Mack Center Saturday, Jan. 13, 2024.

Fort Collins, Colo. — 

  • What:
    UNLV at Colorado State
  • When:
    Friday, 7:30 p.m.
  • Where:
    Fort Collins, Colo.
  • TV:
  • Radio:
    1100AM, 100.9FM

Hot off one of its most impressive performances of the season, UNLV finishes up its week on the road with another tough test Friday, as the Scarlet and Gray take on Colorado State (7:30 p.m., FS1).

Can Kevin Kruger and his squad build off their big win at Boise State and make it a perfect 2-0 trip through the icy north? Three keys to watch:

Whaley makes an impact

UNLV’s sudden surge in conference play can be directly traced to Rob Whaley’s emergence as a difference-maker in the frontcourt, and the burly junior did it again at Boise State, scoring a team-high 18 points to lead the way.

At 6-foot-6, Whaley is agile enough to face the basket on offense and strong enough to serve as a one-man wall when defending the post. Add his above-the-rim athleticism, and he’s really been on a hot streak over the past four games.

Whaley said he has been playing more assertively, and the results have followed.

“We’ve been playing more together as a team, and that’s increasing everyone’s confidence, especially myself,” Whaley said. “Confidence is something that’s been key for me.”

Whaley played a season-high 29 minutes against Boise State; look for Kruger to call on him early and often at Colorado State as well.

Isaiah Stevens, again

Kruger wasn’t happy to hear that Isaiah Stevens was coming back for a fifth year at CSU. The senior point guard has been a thorn in UNLV’s side for half a decade now, hitting tough shots and generally making life miserable for the Scarlet and Gray, and he may be having his best season.

Stevens is averaging 17.1 points and 7.2 assists, and his efficiency is ridiculous, as he’s making 53.8% of his 2-point attempts, 46.7% of his 3’s, and 80.3% from the free-throw line.

“I was hoping all summer that he would decide to go to the NBA,” Kruger joked after the Boise State win. “I think he’s an NBA player. He’s smooth, he’s confident, he’s secure. He’s obviously a big shot maker, big-time scorer, big-time facilitator for them. We’re going to have our work cut out for us.”

In eight career games against UNLV, Stevens has averaged 21.6 points and 5.1 assists while nailing 27 3-pointers. And a lot of those makes have been of the clutch variety.

Now that Stevens has a good squad around him — the Rams boast four double-figure scorers — it’s no surprise CSU is making noise as a potential NCAA Tournament team. UNLV’s game plan will have to focus on slowing down Stevens and putting the onus on his teammates to come through.

Climbing the rankings

It’s been an up-and-down season for the Scarlet and Gray, but recent wins over New Mexico and Boise State have served to demonstrate this team’s ceiling. Those victories have also boosted UNLV’s rankings, which are suddenly not as bad as you might think.

After a Quad 1 win over Boise, UNLV rose to No. 83 in the NET rankings, which is used by the NCAA selection committee. They’re even higher in the KenPom ratings, sitting at No. 77.

That’s not going to get UNLV into any at-large conversations, but it shows that the team still has a lot to play for. With the Mountain West offering many more opportunities for quality wins (starting against Colorado State), UNLV could keep climbing — as long as they keep winning.

Who: UNLV (9-7, 2-2 MWC) at Colorado State (14-3, 2-2 MWC)

When: Friday, 7:30 p.m.

Where: Moby Arena (Fort Collins, Colo.)


Radio: 1100 AM, 100.9 FM

UNLV leaders


Kalib Boone: 13.3 points


Luis Rodriguez: 7.0 rebounds


D.J. Thomas: 6.3 assists

Colorado State leaders


Isaiah Stevens: 17.1 points


Nique Clifford: 6.3 rebounds


Isaiah Stevens: 7.2 assists

Mike Grimala can be reached at 702-948-7844 or [email protected]. Follow Mike on Twitter at

Article written by #LasVegasSun