Unlv vs fresno state

FSM Essential Recap: UNLV vs Fresno State – Game 26

UNLV Runnin’ Rebels (15-11 / 7-6)  |  Fresno State Bulldogs (16-9 / 6-6)

Franchise Sports Media

 

UNLV leapfrogs into 5th place in the Mountain West Conference standings with a huge 60-57 road win at Fresno State.

 

UNLV vs Fresno State
Photo Credit: Tony Gonzalez/AP

After a long week for the Rebels, which saw them lose a very winnable game to Mountain West Conference foe Boise State in Idaho, the Rebels took to the road once again to take on the Bulldogs of Fresno State.

We saw a matchup between two of the very best players in the Mountain West Conference. Bryce Hamilton and Orlando Robinson are two players that contribute the lion’s share of the scoring for their respective teams.

Early on, the game was a series of runs as the Bulldogs jumped all over the Rebels en route to a 6-0 lead, only to see the Rebels answer right back with an 8-0 run of their own. The Bulldogs proved that their bark was not mightier than their bite as they chomped on the Rebels‘ backside and answered with another run of 10-0!

Within the blink of an eye, the Bulldogs had a 23-12 lead after an excellent assist from Robinson to a cutting Fresno State teammate. However, right on cue, the Rebels responded with a 16-0 run of their own, taking the lead away from Fresno State to go up by 2 points, 28-25. After Royce Hamm Jr. knocked down a three-pointer, and then Bryce Hamilton followed suit and knocked down one of his own, Hamm came back down and knocked down yet another from deep. Hamm followed his herculean effort with two free throws, and after a monster jam by David Muoka, the Rebels made it a game, ultimately making it a 33-31 score at the half.

 

The bigger story was the play of the Rebel frontcourt. They combined for 20 points, 19 rebounds, and 3 blocks. Even bigger than their play was their combined effort in shutting down Fresno State 7-footer (and NBA prospect) Orlando Robinson.

 

UNLV vs Fresno State
Photo Credit: TQ/Franchise Sports Media

The second half saw more of the same as the two teams traded punches in true vintage Las Vegas prizefighting fashion. The game was seldom more than a two-possession affair as the Rebels used a balanced attack that enabled them to hold off the Bulldogs and some lackluster offensive production from Hamilton. Hamilton shot a mortal 6-20 from the field and didn’t shoot his first free throws until late in the second half.

There were no heroic efforts, no highlight-reel plays, no “ME” moments from any Rebel. Instead, it was a pure collective effort and all-around solid play from guys such as Mike Nuga. His early energy set the tone for what the role players for Fresno State would have to do for their team to win. Nuga pulled down 6 of UNLV’s 42 rebounds as they outrebounded Fresno State 42-31.

The bigger story was the play of the Rebel frontcourt. They combined for 20 points, 19 rebounds, and three blocks. Even more significant than their play was their combined effort in shutting down Fresno State 7-footer (and NBA prospect) Orlando Robinson. The trio worked together to hold the nucleus of Fresno State’s offense to only 3-14 shooting as he finished the night against his hometown team. The native Las Vegan finished the night with only 7 points and four rebounds. Isaiah Hill had 14 points, four rebounds, and four assists. Junior Ballard added 14 points, and Anthony Holland added 11 points, three rebounds, and three assists.

Hamilton led the way with a double-double as he had 12 points and five rebounds. Hamm’s play when the Rebels were down by double digits halfway through the first half was pivotal in preventing the Bulldogs from putting away the Rebels for good.

Muoka led all players with eight rebounds and two blocks to go along with his two blocks. Victor Iwuakor had his most impact to date as a Rebel as he pulled down six rebounds to go along with his 6 points. Iwuakor had a massive impact on the game’s outcome down the stretch. Iwuakor had a big blocked shot that had to go to review before officials switched it from a goaltending call to a clean block, and later on, his back-to-back rebounds and free throw made the game a two-possession game in the closing moments of the huge road win.

As the Rebels sit comfortably in fifth place, they still have time for Donovan Williams, who saw limited action tonight with 10 minutes to get back into game shape. They will also take on 3 of the four teams ahead of them in Wyoming, Boise State, and Colorado State, ALL HOME GAMES!! 

The Rebels will return to the Thomas & Mack Center on Saturday, February 19th, to battle the 3rd place Rams of Colorado State. The evening will also feature the retiring of the #10 jersey once worn by the legendary Point Guard Robert Smith.

This Rebel team is appearing to gel at just the right time. A universal sentiment amongst coaches says hitting our peak as a team in December is NOT what we want to do. Instead, we want to see limited (but manageable) struggles so that we can “coach” our teams up. The early struggles allow them to work their way out of their problems TOGETHER! We want to be at our best as individuals, as a team, and as a coaching staff come tournament time. I firmly believe this team is poised to move up even further in the standings as they play the teams standing in their way. Look for their win against Colorado State to pay dividends for tiebreakers.

 

The following are in-game tidbits that may or may not appear in the boxscore.

 

This game’s “STREAKER” was Jordan McCabe. McCabe’s three-pointer came with 16:11 in the 1st half, making the score 6-3. The streak is still alive at 1,154 straight games with a made three-pointer!

In tonight’s game, the “VEGAS HUSTLA” was Victor Iwuakor! Along with Nuga, who set the tone early as he came out the gate aggressive as usual, Iwuakor was ultra-aggressive late in the game and had two huge plays down the stretch that dictated the game’s outcome.

 

Don’t forget to go out and support the Runnin’ RebelsClick here to get your UNLV Runnin’ Rebels tickets! 

 

The Rebels will return to the Thomas & Mack Center to take on Colorado State on Saturday, February 19th at 5:00 PM. This game will be televised on the CBS Sports Network.

UNLV vs Fresno State                                 UNLV vs Fresno State                               UNLV vs Fresno State                               UNLV vs Fresno State                                 UNLV vs Fresno State                               UNLV vs Fresno State                               UNLV vs Fresno State                                 UNLV vs Fresno State                               UNLV vs Fresno State                               UNLV vs Fresno State                                 UNLV vs Fresno State                                   

-Che Jones – Franchise Sports Media

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