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Updated: Wednesday, March 17, 2004 11:59 PM EST
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Boise St 84, UNLV 69

BOISE, Idaho (Ticker) -- The Lon Kruger era will begin sooner than Nevada-Las Vegas would have liked.

Aaron Haynes scored 20 points as Boise State rolled to an 84-69 victory over UNLV in the first round of the National Invitation Tournament.

Kruger was introduced as UNLV's new coach Monday and will take over immediately. Before hiring Kruger, the Runnin' Rebels (18-13) were coached by Jay Spoonhour, who took over February 17, when his father Charlie stepped down due to health reasons. Players questioned the timing of the move and UNLV was never in the game. The Broncos (22-9), who were playing their first postseason game since the 1994 NCAA tournament, took advantage of an opponent who might have been distracted and built a 15-2 lead less than 3 1/2 minutes into the contest.

Haynes had 14 points at halftime as Boise State shot 57 percent (21-of-37) and took a 52-29 bulge. The Broncos pushed their lead to 70-47 midway through the second half before UNLV made a serious run.

The Runnin' Rebels were within 76-66 after D.K. Edwards hit a jumper with 4:37 remaining. But they went over four minutes without a basket and Jason Ellis and Jermaine Blackburn hit jumpers to seal Boise State's first postseason victory since beating Utah in the first round of the 1987 NIT.

Blackburn finished with 15 and Ellis chipped in 14 for the Broncos, who will face Wisconsin-Milwaukee in the second round.

Reserve Odartney Blankson scored 26 points for UNLV, which got just 23 points from its starters.

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