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UNLV vs Utah State

Steve Marcus

UNLV Rebels forward Kalib Boone (10) is fouled by Utah State Aggies forward Kalifa Sakho (34) during the second half of a NCAA basketball game at the Thomas & Mack Center Saturday, Jan. 13, 2024.

  • What:
    UNLV vs. Wyoming
  • When:
    Saturday, 5 p.m.
  • Where:
    Thomas and Mack Center
  • TV:
    CBS Sports Network
  • Radio:
    1100AM, 100.9FM

The UNLV basketball team is coming off back-to-back victories and looking to make it three in a row on Saturday, when Wyoming visits the Thomas & Mack Center (5 p.m., CBS Sports Network).

Can Kevin Kruger and his squad keep the momentum rolling? Three keys to watch:

Three in a row?

Winning a third consecutive game might not sound like a grand achievement, but it would be a big deal for this UNLV team because they haven’t been able to do it yet this season.

You read that correctly. The Scarlet and Gray have been so up-and-down this season (11-9 overall, 4-4 Mountain West), they haven’t won three in a row — unless you count non-Division I opponents like Carroll College and Bethesda, and we don’t. In fact, they’ve only won two in a row on two occasions, including the current streak.

Senior center Kalib Boone said more consistency would be a sign that UNLV is turning a corner.

“One of our biggest problems this year is we’ll win one, lose one, lose two,” Boone said. “It just wouldn’t be consistent. Obviously now we’ve got two, can we grow from two to three and take it day by day, game by game?

“We know we can be better.”

Brooklyn in the house

At Friday’s practice, Kruger said senior guard Justin Webster will be out at least two more weeks due to his ankle sprain, and the severity of the injury could keep him sidelined even longer.

That means more playing time for freshman guard Brooklyn Hicks, who has stepped up in Webster’s absence with two strong performances in wins over San Jose State and Fresno State.

On Tuesday, Hicks was part of the closing lineup and scored two clutch baskets down the stretch to help seal the victory.

Kruger said Hicks, junior guard Jackie Johnson and senior wing Luis Rodriguez will rotate through Webster’s spot, soaking up the 30 minutes per game Webster logged before his injury.

“I think we’re going to see a lot more of Brooklyn, Jackie, we’re still going to lean on Lu at that wing spot like we have,” Kruger said. “Just figure out how they can play together, what works.”

Midway point

UNLV has suffered some disappointing results this season, especially in conference play. They gave up late leads to Utah State and Colorado State, and no-showed a blowout loss at the hands of last-place Air Force, but as luck would have it, the Scarlet and Gray are still in decent position in the Mountain West standings.

With a 4-4 conference record, UNLV is currently tied for sixth place with Colorado State. A win over Wyoming on Saturday would move UNLV to 5-4, tied with Wyoming in fifth place.

That’s important, because the top five teams at the end of the regular season receive a bye through the first round of the MWC tournament.

A 5-4 record and a bye at the midway point of the conference season would be a good place for UNLV to be, especially given how rocky the first half has been.

Kruger likes where his team finds itself.

“I think we’re seeing in the Mountain West that everybody can win,” Kruger said. “Everybody has a style of play that can win games, and most nights it’s going to be who takes care of it and who shoots it well. We’ve obviously proven we can play with everybody in this league, as have a number of other teams. It’s definitely shaping up where, as the front nine finishes, there could be a lot of exciting basketball left on the back nine.”

Who: UNLV (11-9, 4-4 MWC) vs. Wyoming (12-9, 5-3 MWC)

When: Saturday, 5 p.m.

Where: Thomas & Mack Center

TV: CBS Sports Network

Radio: 1100 AM, 100.9 FM

UNLV leaders

Scoring

Kalib Boone: 13.0 points

Rebounds

Luis Rodriguez: 7.0 rebounds

Assists

D.J. Thomas: 6.3 assists

Wyoming leaders

Scoring

Sam Griffin: 18.1 points

Rebounds

Cam Manyawu: 5.9 rebounds

Assists

Sam Griffin: 3.6 assists

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

Article written by #LasVegasSun

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