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Rebels scorched by hot shooting again, fall to 2-3

Updated November 21, 2023 - 7:19 pm

It’s hard to win when an opponent shoots 60 percent from the field. UNLV coach Kevin Kruger admitted as much after a loss to Florida State on Monday.

So how did UNLV’s defense respond a day later against Richmond?

The Rebels allowed the Spiders to shoot 60 percent from the field.

“We’ve got to sit down and understand what we’ve got to do as a group — top to bottom — just to get some wins,” Kruger told reporters.

UNLV lost its second consecutive game Tuesday, falling 82-65 to Richmond in its second game of the Sunshine Slam at the Ocean Center in Daytona Beach Florida. It was UNLV’s lowest-scoring outing of the season

Junior guard Jackie Johnson III led the Rebels (2-3) with 17 points, going 5 of 7 from 3. Fifth-year forward Kalib Boone scored 14, and fifth-year forward Jalen Hill added 10 points on 75 percent shooting with a team-best seven rebounds.

Fifth-year guard Jordan King scored a game-high 21 for the Spiders (3-2), while senior center Neal Quinn added 20 points and fifth-year forward Isaiah Bigelow had 16 points.

UNLV next plays Akron at 7 p.m. Nov. 28 at the Thomas & Mack Center.

“We’ve just got to keep working to create opportunities for each other,” Kruger said. “We’ve got to do a better job getting people in those positions.”

Once again, the Rebels struggled defensively. The Spiders shot 60 percent (33 of 55) from the field and went 64.3 percent (9 of 14) from 3. Opponents have shot 56 percent or better from the field in all three of UNLV’s losses this season. This is also the second time UNLV allowed a team to shoot better than 60 percent from beyond the arc.

At one point, Richmond made 11 straight field goals, and it also outscored UNLV 40-28 in the paint.

UNLV’s one edge against Richmond was offensive rebounds, which UNLV won 12-4 in large part because of Hill and Boone.

The Rebels, however, weren’t able to take advantage of their extra possessions. They made nine fewer field goals despite taking seven more shots than the Spiders. UNLV finished the game with a 38.7 field-goal percentage (24 of 62).

“Unfortunately tonight, too much of the offense was generated individually,” Kruger said.

In particular, Kruger’s team had a brutal night from 3, hitting 28 percent (7 of 25), a number that would have been 2 of 18 without Johnson’s efficient night.

Fifth-year guard Justin Webster, a 46-percent 3-point shooter last season, continued his early struggles this season. He went 1 of 9 from distance Tuesday and is shooting 23.3 percent from 3 for the season.

Fifth-year wing Luis Rodriguez was 0 of 5 from 3, and sophomore forward Isaiah Cottrell was held scoreless for the first time this season, missing both of his attempted 3s.

The Rebels weren’t helped by a poor start. The Spiders had 11 points before a Boone layup got UNLV on the scoreboard. The Rebels trailed 18-4 with 11:56 remaining in the first half. Richmond never led by less than 13 in the second half, and its largest margin was 22 points.

“We’ve got a couple days here where we’re going to be able to watch a lot of film,” Kruger said. “We’re going to be able to be in the gym a lot to figure out some things and be prepared for next week.”

Contact reporter Andy Yamashita at ayamashita@reviewjournal.com. Follow @ANYamashita on X.

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