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Rebels vs UNR

Steve Marcus

UNLV forward Rob Whaley Jr. (5) celebrates after a basket during the second half of an NCAA basketball game against UNR at the Thomas & Mack Center Saturday, Feb. 17, 2024.

  • What:
    UNLV at Wyoming
  • When:
    Tuesday, 6 p.m.
  • Where:
    Laramie, Wyoming
  • TV:
    CBS Sports Network
  • Radio:
    1100AM, 100.9FM

There is no Mountain West team hotter than UNLV right now, as the Scarlet and Gray have won seven of eight to vault back into the race for the top of the standings.

Can Kevin Kruger’s squad keep pace with another victory at Wyoming on Tuesday (6 p.m., CBS Sports Network)?

Three keys to watch:

Whaley back

UNLV scored an inspiring win over No. 22 Colorado State on Saturday, but there was one negative — the status of junior big man Rob Whaley.

The starting forward went down early in the second half with an ankle injury and had to be helped off the court; he did not return to the game, raising concerns that he suffered a long-term injury.

Whaley’s father hopped online later that night to report some good news, however, saying it was nothing major:

The updates got even more positive on Monday, when Whaley participated in practice before the team traveled to Wyoming.

Whaley credited the team’s medical staff for getting him back on the court so quickly.

“Our trainers got me back. They got me good,” Whaley said. “They do a great job of getting me treatment, getting me right, getting me ready for this game.”

Whaley has been a key to UNLV’s resurgence, scoring in double figures in four straight games leading up to Colorado State. Whaley had six points and three rebounds in 19 minutes before leaving that contest.

Whaley said he wanted to return against CSU, but ultimately trusted his teammates to clinch the win.

“We’re rolling right now as a team,” Whaley said.

With Whaley likely back in the rotation on Tuesday, it looks like UNLV will be going into Wyoming at full strength.

Free points

Freshman point guard D.J. Thomas is a fast learner.

He came up short in UNLV’s last-second loss to UNR on Feb. 17, missing a pair of free throws in the final minute that would have given his team the lead. A week later, he went 12-of-12 from the line in a similarly close win over Colorado State.

Whaley commended Thomas for putting his misses behind him and delivering in the clutch.

“After he missed those free throws against Reno, I was talking to him, because we’re roommates,” Whaley said. “I was like, ‘It’s going to happen. You’re not going to make every shot.’”

Thomas responded by scoring 23 points — two off his career high — and going perfect from the stripe.

“The dude, he does that,” Whaley said. “He’s getting better and better and getting more mature on the court.”

Standings watch

UNLV is back in the top five of the Mountain West standings, tied for fourth with UNR. That means if the season ended today, Kruger and his crew would receive a bye in the first round of the Mountain West tournament.

No team has ever won the tourney without a bye, and UNLV isn’t getting into the big dance without winning the Mountain West tournament, so therefore, getting a bye is of utmost importance.

UNLV has played one fewer game than some contenders, so there’s still a chance, however slight, that the Scarlet and Gray could find themselves at the top when all is said and done — if they continue winning.

“We have four left, and a couple teams have three,” Kruger said. “It’s going to be a down-to-the-last-minute type of thing.”

Who: UNLV (16-10, 9-5 MWC) at Wyoming (13-14, 6-8 MWC)

When: Tuesday, 6 p.m.

Where: Arena-Auditorium (Laramie, Wyoming)

TV: CBS Sports Network

Radio: 1100 AM, 100.9 FM

UNLV leaders


D.J. Thomas: 12.8 points


Luis Rodriguez: 6.6 rebounds


D.J. Thomas: 5.6 assists

Wyoming leaders


Sam Griffin: 17.4 points


Cam Manyawu: 6.4 rebounds


Sam Griffin: 3.4 assists

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

Article written by #LasVegasSun