Kruger, UNLV run past Colorado State
Las Vegas, NV (Sports Network) – Senior guard Kevin Kruger scored 21 points,
including five three-pointers, and also dished out nine assists as 25th-ranked
UNLV trounced Colorado State, 88-72, in the semifinals of the Mountain West
Conference Tournament at the Thomas & Mack Center.
Wink Adams chipped in with 18 points, and Michael Umeh had 15 for the Runnin’
Rebels (27-6), who notched their sixth straight victory one day removed
from setting a tournament record for the largest margin of victory with an
80-54 win over Utah in the quarterfinals.
UNLV will battle top-seeded and 23rd-ranked BYU for the conference
championship on Saturday afternoon.
Jason Smith had 16 points and 11 boards for sixth-seeded CSU (17-13), which
upset San Diego State, 69-64, in the quarterfinals on Thursday. Prior
to the tournament, the Rams had lost three of their last four games.
Stuart Creason had 14 points, Cory Lewis and Tim Denson added 13 apiece, and
Tyler Smith finished with 11 points for the Rams.
The Runnin’ Rebels stormed out of the gate, grabbing a 16-5 lead on Kruger’s
three-point shot at 14:26. Colorado used a 6-0 mini-spurt, however, and it was
quickly a 16-11 margin a little more than a minute later.
Three consecutive treys, including two by Kruger, put UNLV back on top, 25-13,
with 11:13 remaining in the half, but the teams continued to battle, and the
Rams cut their deficit to five, 28-23, on Denson’s shot from beyond the arc
with 5:27 to play in the half.
Kruger scored the next eight points for the Runnin’ Rebels — including two
more three-point shots — and UNLV eventually carried a 41-31 lead into the
The Rebels ran away with the game in the second half, as an Adams’ trey
ignited a 15-3 run, capped by a couple of Joe Darger free throws, and UNLV
held a 56-34 lead with 14:39 to play.
Lewis made a layup to stop the bleeding for the Rams, but UNLV continued
its offensive outburst down the strech.
The Runnin’ Rebels held a 70-53 lead on Gaston Essengue’s layup with 7:48 to
play, and Colorado State did not get closer than 11 the rest of the way.
Darger finished with nine points for the Runnin’ Rebels…UNLV has won 13 of
its last 15 overall…The Runnin’ Rebels lead the all-time series, 26-7, and
have won nine straight over the Rams…UNLV shot 57 percent in the contest,
while Colorado made 44 percent of its shots.