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UNLV men’s basketball defeats San Jose State with 2nd-half rally | UNLV Basketball | Sports

UNLV men’s basketball defeats San Jose State with 2nd-half rally | UNLV Basketball | Sports

The UNLV men’s basketball team had a chance to take the lead late in the first half Saturday at San Jose State.

The Rebels were within a single possession after trailing by as many as 12 points, then went scoreless over the last three minutes before the break.

But when UNLV had a chance to take the lead in the second half, the Rebels didn’t miss that opportunity.

A key 8-0 run gave UNLV a comfortable lead it never gave up, and the Rebels pulled away for a 77-65 win over the Spartans at Provident Credit Union Event Center in San Jose, California.

“We gave up 20 points in the first five minutes and it looked like it was going to be a really rough night, but at the same time, we know we’re a really good defensive team,” UNLV coach Kevin Kruger said in his postgame radio interview with Learfield Sports.

“We just had to mix and match a little bit and find rotations that we liked. … The guys did a great job tonight of finding each other and playing for each other,” Kruger added.

Fifth-year forward Keylan Boone led UNLV (10-9, 3-4 Mountain West) with 18 points and added six rebounds. Freshman point guard Dedan Thomas Jr. scored 16 points, and junior guard Jackie Johnson III added 12 points off the bench for the Rebels.

San Jose State (8-12, 1-6), after a strong shooting first half, missed its first six field goals to start the second half.

UNLV used a 13-2 run during a three-minute stretch to take its first lead since the early seconds of the first half on a layup from Johnson to go ahead 48-47 with 10:13 left in the second half.

Once the Rebels took the lead, they didn’t miss the rest of the way, making their final 14 field goals. They closed the final 14 minutes of the game on a 42-20 run.

UNLV shot 16 of 20 (80 percent) from the field in the second half and made 5 of 8 3-pointers.

“If you want to beat good defensive teams and win games, you need to make some shots,” Kruger said. “You need to have a good confidence about yourself, and I thought the guys did that. It took about 10 minutes to get into the flow of things.”

Keylan Boone scored 14 points in the second half, and Johnson scored all 12 of his points in the second half.

“In the second half, when (Johnson) took a breath, he made some really, really big plays for us.” Kruger said.

UNLV brought out a bigger starting lineup, with junior forward Rob Whaley Jr. — along with Thomas, Luis Rodriguez, Kalib Boone and Keylan Boone. Whaley made his first start of the season in place of injured fifth-year guard Justin Webster, who suffered a left ankle injury in the second half of Tuesday’s 90-58 home loss to Air Force.

San Jose State quickly jumped ahead. The Spartans scored seven points in less than a minute, aided by a pair of UNLV turnovers, to lead 9-3 at the 17:42 mark in the first half, which prompted Kruger to call a timeout.

The Spartans made their first eight field goals, including three 3-pointers to build a 17-7 lead less than five minutes into the game.

UNLV held San Jose State scoreless for nearly three minutes midway through the first half, but could only cut the deficit to seven. Spartans senior forward Trey Anderson knocked down a 3-pointer with 6:47 on the first-half clock to stop their scoring drought and put San Jose State back ahead by double digits at 30-20.

Thomas, who scored 10 first-half points, gave the Rebels a spark with a transition layup to help ignite a 10-0 run late in the first half. Freshman guard Brooklyn Hicks scored a layup off a San Jose State turnover to get the Rebels within a basket, 32-30 with over three minutes left, for the first time since early in the half.

After a Kalib Boone layup, the Rebels went scoreless for the final 3:02 in the first half, missing their final four field goals going into the break, and San Jose State went into the locker room leading 39-32.

In addition to Johnson gaining more minutes due to Webster’s injury, Hicks played 18 minutes and scored seven points. Kruger credited both players for staying ready.

“Between (Hicks) and Johnson in terms of staying ready, they continued to work,” Kruger told reporters. “Had (Hicks) been pouting for a couple of months, he wouldn’t have been ready tonight when his number was called. I really feel lucky those guys are in that spot that if we have an injury we can call on them.”

UNLV next hosts Fresno State at 8 p.m. Tuesday.

Contact Alex Wright at [email protected]. Follow @AlexWright1028 on X.

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