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Kalib Boone sparks UNLV to overtime victory at Wyoming

Updated February 27, 2024 - 9:49 pm

UNLV needed every point from Kalib Boone on Tuesday night at Wyoming. The Rebels also needed their fifth-year forward on the floor as they dealt with foul trouble.

After Keylan Boone fouled out in the second half, and Rob Whaley Jr. and Luis Rodriguez each played with four fouls late, UNLV turned to Kalib Boone down the stretch after he was benched for the final five minutes in its win Saturday against Colorado State.

Kalib Boone scored a game-high 24 points and grabbed 12 rebounds as UNLV held on for a 75-69 overtime victory against Wyoming at Arena-Auditorium in Laramie.

“This might have been (Kalib Boone’s) best overall game,” UNLV coach Kevin Kruger said in his postgame radio interview with Learfield Sports. “His defense was the most consistent he’s played this year. Not just the rebounds, but pick-and-roll coverage and being there for his teammates.”

Freshman point guard Dedan Thomas Jr. added 13 points for UNLV (17-10, 10-5 Mountain West), and fifth-year guard Justin Webster scored 11 off the bench.

The Rebels have won eight of their past nine games.

“The guys made plays when they needed to,” Kruger said. “At the end of the day, we got another tough road win under our belt.”

UNLV led by as many as 10 points in the second half and had the chance to close out the game in regulation but turned the ball over twice in the final 10 seconds.

Leading 61-59, Webster was triple-teamed after initially breaking a Wyoming press, and Kael Combs forced a steal and made both free throws after being fouled to tie the game at 61.

Then, with 5.7 seconds left, Whaley caught an inbounds pass with his left foot out of bounds. A last-second jumper from Wyoming’s Sam Griffin missed.

“It was kind of a tale of two halves where we quite possibly played our best first half defensively, and then one of our worst of the year in the second half,” Kruger said. “(Wyoming) was just driving to the paint and throwing it to whoever they wanted for layups. We were just trading baskets for way too long, and on the road, it’s tough to get away with that.”

UNLV attacked inside during overtime. Whaley threw down a one-handed dunk and converted the three-point play to put the Rebels ahead 68-62 with 2:52 left.

After Wyoming (13-15, 6-9) cut the deficit to three points on Brendan Wenzel’s 3-pointer, Kalib Boone converted on a dunk off a behind-the-back pass from Rodriguez as UNLV led 72-67 with less than a minute left.

“I was just as frustrated in the Colorado State game with him as I’ve been all year,” Kruger said of Kalib Boone. “I got after him. We had a good talk. He took a deep breath and had fun playing, because without him tonight, there’s no doubt that we don’t come out on top.”

Cam Manyawu stole a pass from Thomas and scored on a dunk with 19 seconds to cut the deficit to 72-69, but the Rebels made enough free throws to pull out the win.

“We did what we needed to do to get the win, and that’s what good teams do,” Kruger said.

After the first half was an offensive struggle with both teams shooting less than 30 percent, UNLV started the second half making four of its first five baskets.

Kalib Boone knocked down a jumper with 15:01 left to put UNLV ahead 37-27, but Wyoming slowly chipped away.

The Cowboys shot 48 percent in the second half — after making 6 of 24 shots in the first half — and made all 16 free-throw attempts in the second half.

“(Wyoming) fought for a couple of minutes to tie it,” Kruger told reporters. “The mood in the huddle was great going into overtime, because we did a really good job the majority of the game. There were a couple of things we’d love to change to not go to overtime, but we picked ourselves off the ground and fought in overtime.”

UNLV returns home to face San Jose State at 7 p.m. Saturday at the Thomas & Mack Center.

Contact Alex Wright at awright@reviewjournal.com. Follow @AlexWright1028 on X.

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