FSM Essential Recap: UNLV vs San Diego State – Game 20

UNLV Runnin’ Rebels (11-9 / 3-4)  |  San Diego State Aztecs (11-4 / 3-1)

Franchise Sports Media


Hamilton’s attempt to carry the depleted Rebels on his back falls short as the Aztecs run past the Rebels 80-55.


UNLV vs San Diego State
Photo Credit: KC Alfred/San Diego Union-Tribune

So, something had to give! It’s like an algebraic equation.

When you pit the hottest offensive player in the conference, UNLV Runnin Rebel Bryce Hamilton, against one of the hottest defenses in the nation, San Diego State University, something has to give! This matchup took place with UNLV down two starters (including the second-leading scorer) and San Diego State University coming off of a game where they held the Boise State Broncos to only 42 points, yet still lost by 5 points.

San Diego State (10-4, 2-1) continues to play inspired defense. However, it has been their “offensive offense” that has everyone in San Diego talking nowadays. The Aztecs dropped to 2-1 in conference play with a 42-37 loss to the Broncos. Yes… 37 points! NCAA Division I teams that have scored 42 points or fewer are 2-161, all-time. The last team to win a game scoring a mere 42 points was Boise State on Saturday night at Viejas Arena.

The Rebels’ defensive effort was lacking, and despite Hamilton’s efficient night of 23 points and six rebounds on 8-17 shooting, including 4-9 from the three-point line, their offensive output was lacking as well. Without Hamilton, the Rebels shot 25% from the field on 11-43 shooting and 18% from the three-point line shooting a dismal 3-16.

Hamilton has put together another great offensive stretch for Kevin Kruger’s depleted roster as they navigate their way around a new playing rotation. This rotation had freshman Keshon Gilbert starting for the 1st time this season after losing backup guard Marvin Coleman to a non-Covid related illness.

Also out of the lineup was starter Josh Baker (concussion), and the Rebels second-leading scorer Donovan Williams which was a game-time decision. Hamilton scored 30 points Saturday afternoon against the San Jose Spartans to stop their late second half comeback. Hamilton had scored 32 points earlier in the week to become the first Runnin Rebel to post back-to-back 30-point games since former NBA player Marcus Banks did so in 2003.


The story of the first game was the fact that the Rebels were manhandled on the boards to the tune of 55 to 42!


UNLV vs San Diego State
Photo Credit: KC Alfred/San Diego Union-Tribune

The  Aztecs‘ 19 “offensive” boards led to 16 second-chance points. The offensive glass is usually indicative of how a team’s offensive efficiency will play out. Preventing San Diego State from missing shots and getting second chance opportunities proved to be the x-factor in this game.

Going into tonight’s game, Hamilton knew that he needed to not only continue to provide offense for his team, but he would also need to make his presence felt on the boards, along with the Rebel frontcourt of Royce Hamm Jr., Davis Muoka, and Victor Iwuakor. 

The Rebels indeed got the much-needed offense out of Hamilton, who came out of the gate looking to attack the Aztec defenders. Hamilton started the game with an early three and looked poised to continue his offensive onslaught. The Rebels did a good job on the boards by not allowing the Aztecs any second-chance scoring opportunities. Unfortunately, the latter was more a result of the Aztecs’ inability to score efficiently than the Rebels out-rebounding San Diego State.

The Aztecs were efficient in the first half, shooting 62% from the field and 67% from the three-point line with only six turnovers. The Rebels hobbled their way to a 32% field goal percentage while shooting a respectable 44% from the three-point line, yet committing ten turnovers. Hamilton had to leave the game early as he took a shot to the chin in the first half. Iwuakor was also banged up late in the game after a steal but soon returned. Although Williams did dress out and started the game, he saw limited action, playing 14 minutes and only scoring 2 points on 1-7 shooting.

At the intermission, the Rebels found themselves down 42-23, and despite the offensive efforts of Hamilton, the Rebels had no offense from any other players. The Aztecs seemed to fill in the gaps left by their guards, Trey Pullium and Lamont Butler (11 and 7 points respectively) who did not play in the first meeting at the Thomas & Mack Center. In contrast, the Rebels seemed to desperately miss the offense they lost from the absence of Donovan Williams and Josh Baker (16 points and 7 points, respectively) in their first meeting.

In the opening few minutes of the second half, the Rebels showed signs of life with a brief offensive outburst that saw the Rebels jump out on the Aztecs and score the first 7 points of the half, cutting the lead down to a manageable 30-42. What looked to be a valiant comeback effort that could have made a game out of this Mountain West Conference face-off, fizzled quickly after Matt Bradley made one of his many short baskets in the paint. Bradley finished the night with a game-high 27 points, six rebounds, and four assists.

The Rebels will get a much-needed day of rest to secure the health of weary bodies, battered minds, and bruised egos. Kruger said that he was eager to get his team back to Las Vegas and watch the film after, of course, a day of rest. He added, “We will get home and watch film and stick to their principles“.

The Rebels will need to get back on track because the waters get murkier as the Rebels face the 15-1 Rams of Colorado State next.


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


Tonight’s “STREAKER” was, once again, Bryce Hamilton. The nation’s longest three-point streak stays alive after 1,149 games. Hamilton nailed his 3-pointer in the first 1:33 of the gameThe Rebels shot 28% from three-point land.

In tonight’s game, the “VEGAS HUSTLA” was Keshon Gilbert who fought and battled the entire game. His presence is seldom felt on the offensive side, but he made his presence known on the defensive side, even baiting a few Aztecs into technical fouls.


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


The Rebels will now travel to Fort Collins to take on the Colorado State on Friday, January 28th at 6:00 PM.

UNLV vs San Diego State                               UNLV vs San Diego State                               UNLV vs San Diego State                               UNLV vs San Diego State                               UNLV vs San Diego State                               UNLV vs San Diego State                               UNLV vs San Diego State                               UNLV vs San Diego State                               UNLV vs San Diego State                               UNLV vs San Diego State                               UNLV vs San Diego State                                


-Che Jones – Franchise Sports Media

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