Rebels With a Cause (No. 22 Colorado State-UNLV; 02.24.24)

Arnie Bazemore/ALOST


akoiki-passport2 – by Adesina O. Koiki
A Lot of Sports Talk editor-in-chief

LAS VEGAS — As the talk of college basketball continues to include the sensational season that the Mountain West Conference is having, barely any of that chatter has involved the UNLV Rebels.

That ought to change after Saturday evening.

Dedan Thomas Jr. scored 23 points as the Rebels broke open a close game late at the free throw line to defeat No. 22 Colorado State 66-60 inside the Thomas & Mack Center. The Rebels avenged an earlier loss to the Rams this season, when it was up the majority of the game before suffering a three-point loss in Fort Collins on January 19.

After losing to last-place Air Force immediately after that defeat to the Rams, UNLV has won seven of its last eight game, a stretch that includes victories against three teams who project to make the NCAA Tournament: New Mexico (in Albuquerque), Nevada and now the Rams. The league is in good shape to get six teams in the Big Dance for the very first time, yet the Rebels, who aren’t on the right side of the bubble just yet, may be playing the best of any team in the league at the moment.

“We were more mentally prepared for this game,” Thomas said. “We knew it was going to be a tough game. It just came down to making free throws and getting stops and getting rebounds, which we didn’t do in the last game [against Colorado State]. I think that was the difference tonight.”

Thomas made all 12 of his free throws this evening, and in a small way atoned for the two free throw misses he had when UNLV was down a point with 20 seconds to go in their home loss to in-state for Nevada last weekend.

“To close out the game at the free-throw line and guard them the best we can gave us a lot of confidence,” UNLV coach Kevin Kruger said.

*Editor’s note: Above the byline is the photo gallery from Saturday evening, with all photos taken by Las Vegas-area photographer Arnie Bazemore. After clicking on the first photo to enlarge the picture, make sure to press the left and right arrow buttons to scroll through the rest of the pictures. There are 31 pictures in total.


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Tags : College BasketballColorado State RamsMountain West ConferenceUNLV Rebels

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