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UNLV pulls away late to finish Canadian tour with win

Updated August 19, 2022 - 9:54 pm

UNLV used a 19-1 fourth-quarter run to pull away from the University of the Fraser Valley Cascades on Friday night and concluded its Canadian tour with a 91-70 victory in Abbotsford, British Columbia.

“This was a great opportunity to build a lead, give it up, and fight to preserve the win,” UNLV coach Kevin Kruger said after his team finished with a 2-1 record in its three exhibition games in Canada.

Jackie Johnson led the Rebels in scoring with 20 points. Three other Rebels scored in double figures, with Luis Rodriguez scoring 16 points and Keshon Gilbert and Keyshawn Hall each contributing 13 points.

UNLV led by as many as 23 points in the second quarter. The Rebels scored the first 10 points of the quarter as they used a 25-7 run to hold a 51-28 lead midway through the second quarter.

With a 15-point halftime lead, the UNLV allowed Fraser Valley to cut the deficit to 72-69 midway through the fourth quarter behind several layups and 7-for-8 free-throw shooting to end the third quarter.

Kruger didn’t see the same activity from his team up to that point in the second half.

“We let them take shots that we don’t want to give up,” Kruger said. “We weren’t as sound and in sync defensively as we needed to be.”

As UNLV made its run at the end, Kruger saw the activity level increase on defense as his team caused disruption in the backcourt and forced Fraser Valley to take contested shots.

On offense, Johnson sparked the fourth-quarter rally by hitting a 3-pointer, one of 13 made for UNLV. Kruger said defensive production would open up the offense.

“We have to make plays for each other,” Kruger said. “We’ve got to step up to the 3-point line confident that we’re going to knock it down.”

Kruger said the team will take a week off before it regroups once the players begin school at the end of the month. The Rebels will then go over the film from these games before official practice begins closer to the start of the season.

He said the Rebels accomplished their goals during the Canada trip, getting valuable game reps with a lot of new players before the season.

“We’re really happy with the trip and everything that we learned from it,” Kruger said

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