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UNLV basketball loses 1st exhibition game on Canadian tour

UNLV’s first game of its three-game exhibition tour in Canada did got start off the way the Rebels wanted.

The Rebels fell to the University of British Columbia 79-72 Tuesday night at War Memorial Gymnasium in Vancouver, British Columbia.

“We had good stretches where we played really well,” UNLV coach Kevin Kruger said. “But the stretches where we didn’t really came back to bite us.”

UNLV tied the game 60-60 late in the third quarter on Isaiah Cottrell’s 3-pointer. UBC then went on an 11-2 run to take its largest lead, 71-62, early in the fourth quarter.

With about a minute to play, the Rebels had the ball trailing 75-72. But Justin Webster missed an open 3-pointer from the corner.

The Rebels’ largest lead was in the second quarter, 22-14. Three straight UBC 3-pointers to start the third quarter helped the Thunderbirds take their first lead.

“(UBC) made some tough shots, and it got their confidence going,” Kruger said.

Duquesne transfer Jackie Johnson led the Rebels with 16 points. He provided a much-needed spark for the Rebels, using his speed to drive to the basket to get layups.

“He came in aggressively, and we needed it,” Kruger said. “We need him to be aggressive, make plays and make shots.”

The Rebels started four guards, with returners Jordan McCabe, Keshon Gilbert and Webster joining Mississippi transfer Luis Rodriguez in the backcourt and David Muoka at forward.

The entire lineup was subbed out a few minutes into the game. All 10 eligible players got into the game.

“We’re going to figure out what the guys are going to do and give to the team,” Kruger said. “They’re all going to get an opportunity to make an impact on the game.”

Webster scored 12 and Rodriguez 11. James Woods led the Thunderbirds with 33 points, and forward Sukhman Sandhu scored 23.

UNLV was supposed to land in Vancouver on Monday afternoon, but its flight was delayed by nearly 20 hours and they did not arrive in Canada until 2 p.m. Tuesday. Kruger said he did not think the travel issues had any bearing on the result.

The Rebels play the University of Calgary on Wednesday.

“This is a great learning opportunity that we need to be consistent,” Kruger said. “We have to play hard for 40 minutes.”

Contact Alex Wright at awright@reviewjournal.com. Follow @AlexWright1028 on Twitter.

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