After starting the season 4-0 for the first time in five years, which has included a win over No. 21 Dayton, the UNLV men’s basketball team will hit the road for the first time this season as it competes at the SoCal Challenge in San Juan Capistrano, California. The Runnin’ Rebels’ first game in the event is scheduled for Monday, Nov. 21 at 10 p.m. vs. Southern Illinois.
LAST TIME OUT: All five starters scored in double figures as the UNLV defeated High Point 78-68 Friday night at the Thomas & Mack Center to close out its season-opening homestand. EJ Harkless led the Runnin’ Rebels with 15 points, while Luis Rodriguez recorded his fifth career double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds. David Muoka also contributed 12 points with nine rebounds, while Keshon Gilbert and Elijah Parquet added 11 points apiece. Gilbert scored in double figures for the fourth straight game, while Parquet tied his career high in rebounds with five. Jackie Johnson III also scored in double figures with 10 points.
ABOUT THE ROSTER: This season’s UNLV squad features six returners, nine newcomers, including six transfers from the Division I level, and a total of 10 upperclassmen. The lone returning starter is 6-foot guard Jordan McCabe, who was a senior last season and returns for his fifth year for 2022-23. Other returners include 6-3 senior guard Justin Webster, 6-10 senior center David Muoka, 6-4 sophomore guard Keshon Gilbert, 6-7 senior forward Victor Iwuakor and 6-3 senior guard Cameron Burist.
The newcomers include 6-10 redshirt sophomore forward Isaiah Cottrell, who is originally from Las Vegas and transferred to UNLV from West Virginia, 6-7 freshman guard Keyshawn Hall from Cleveland, Ohio, 6-3 fifth-year guard EJ Harkless, who transferred from Oklahoma, 5-11 sophomore guard Jackie Johnson III, who transferred from Duquesne, 6-10 junior forward Karl Jones, who transferred from LA Southwest College, 6-6 sophomore guard Shane Nowell, who transferred from Arizona, 6-4 fifth-year guard Elijah Parquet, who transferred from Colorado, 6-6 senior guard Luis Rodriguez, who transferred from Ole Miss and 6-1 junior guard Nick Walters, who transferred from the College of Southern Nevada.
After four contests, Gilbert leads the team in scoring with 15.8 ppg, while shooting 51% from the field, 64% on 3-pointers and 90% on free throws, in addition to averaging 3.5 assists and 1.8 steals per game. Harkless is scoring 14.5 ppg with 4.8 rebounds per game and 3.8 apg and 2.0 spg. Muoka is the team’s leading rebounder at 7.0 rpg and Rodriguez leads in steals at 3.0 per game (18th in the nation).
ABOUT THE OPPONENT: Southern Illinois has started the season with wins over Little Rock (94-63), at Oklahoma State (61-60) and against Tennessee State (57-44). The Salukis’ lone loss was at Southern Indiana (71-53). SIU has two players averaging double figures in scoring: Marcus Domask (15.3 ppg) and Lance Jones (13.8 ppg). Domask also is the team’s leading rebounder (7.5 rpg), while Xavier Johnson leads in assists (3.3 apg). Southern Illinois finished the 2021-22 season with an overall record of 16-15, finishing sixth in the Missouri Valley Conference with a 9-9 mark. This season’s team was picked to finish third in the MVC’s preseason poll. Domask earned First Team Preseason All-Conference honors. The Salukis’ 15-man roster includes eight upperclassmen. SIU is coached by Bryan Mullins, who is in his fourth year with a record of 47-46 (.505).
BROADCAST INFO: Monday’s game will be televised on CBS Sports Network with Alex Del Barrio and Tim Doyle calling the action. Jon Sandler, former Runnin’ Rebel Curtis Terry and Steve Cofield (sidelines) will handle the UNLV radio call, which may be heard live on ESPN Radio 1100 in Las Vegas. All streaming links and live stats are available at UNLVRebels.com and through the UNLV Rebels App.
LAST SEASON: The Runnin’ Rebels turned in a successful season in 2021-22, their first under head coach Kevin Kruger, winning 18 games, which marked the most for UNLV in four years. The team went 10-8 in Mountain West play, exceeding preseason expectations with a fifth-place finish in the league standings. With a revamped roster that included nine transfers, the team continually improved as the season progressed, advancing 43 spots in the KenPom ratings along the way. Under Kruger’s leadership, three UNLV individuals earned All-Mountain West accolades last season: Bryce Hamilton (First Team), Donovan Williams (Sixth Man of the Year) and Royce Hamm Jr. (Honorable Mention).