There was plenty of news for the UNLV Runnin’ Rebels on Monday as they received word from the NCAA that senior guard Kevin Olekaibe has been cleared to play this season while the status of junior guard Bryce Dejean-Jones also became clearer after a hamstring injury last week.
According to a report from ESPN.com’s Jeff Goodman, Olekaibe will be cleared to play this season for UNLV after transferring from Fresno State to be closer to his ailing father, who — according to Goodman’s story — is in hospice and can’t speak or move the lower half of his body after suffering multiple strokes.
The 6-foot-2 Olekaibe averaged 17.8 points per game as a sophomore before seeing those totals dip to a career-low 8.3 points per game in his junior season. Olekaibe will be a walk-on at UNLV this season and should bolster the Runnin’ Rebels depth at guard.
UNLV might use that depth immediately as they still await the status of junior wing Bryce Dejean-Jones. After pulling up limp and exiting in the first half of the Runnin’ Rebels loss to Division II Dixie State, Dejean-Jones will miss the Rebels exhibition this week and his status remains unclear for UNLV’s season opener this Friday against Portland State, head coach Dave Rice told Goodman.
Nic Moore scored 18 of his 25 points in the second half and added 11 assists as No. 16 SMU knocked off Gonzaga in Moody Coliseum on Saturday night, 69-60.
The Zags got 20 points and 16 boards from Domantas Sabonis, but Kyle Wiltjer scored just four points and shot 2-for-17 from the floor.
It wasn’t pretty.
And it may have been the end of Gonzaga’s NCAA tournament hopes.
Entering Saturday, the Zags had an RPI in the mid-60s, enough to keep them in the bubble conversation but not enough to make them anything more than a team that will be projected to end up on the cut-line.
The issue is a complete lack of quality wins on their résumé. Gonzaga beat UConn in the Bahamas. That’s a borderline top 50 win. They beat Washington, another borderline top 50 win. Beyond that? They swept Pepperdine, beat Tennessee and own a win over Montana. None of those are top 100 wins, and that’s why the SMU game was such a big deal. The Mustangs are a top 25 team. This was a road game. This win was the kind of thing that the Zags could pin at the top of their profile.
But Wiltjer didn’t show up, the Zags had no answer for Moore and they’ll head back to Spokane needing, in all likelihood, to win the WCC’s automatic bid if they want to dance.
Cal picked up a big win over Oregon State in Haas Pavilion on Saturday night, and the exclamation point was this emphatic dunk from Jaylen Brown: