UNLV Runnin’ Rebels (10-7 / 2-2)  |  San Jose State Spartans (7-8 / 0-3)

Franchise Sports Media


The Dynamic duo of Mike Nuga and Justin Webster led the Rebels’ best shooting night of the season as they shot 50% from deep and run right past San Jose State 81-56.


UNLV vs San Jose State
Photo Credit: UNLV Basketball

On the day of our national holiday for the great Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the spirit of former San Jose State Spartans football and track star Tommie Smith and his Olympic teammate John Carlos was alive and well in San Jose. Smith and Carlos are best known for their raised black-gloved fists atop the winner’s podium during the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City to protest racism and injustice in America. Their protest sparked controversy and anger but ultimately led to respect and conversation, and their resiliency led to their image being blazoned across the jerseys of the Spartans.

Unfortunately for the Spartans, the resiliency showed Monday night at the Provident Credit Union Event Center was not San Jose State; instead, it was all UNLV!

How a team bounces back from a loss is undoubtedly essential to their success. However, how a team responds after a TOUGH loss indicates much more than how good a team is. That response can give insight into how a team bonds, how coaches prepared their teams in the days following the loss, how teams take ownership of their inefficiencies, and most importantly… their resilience.

The Rebels came out with a sense of urgency, and it appeared as though there was nothing the Spartans could do to slow the Rebel onslaught. Aside from too many turnovers, the Rebels controlled the game’s pace from beginning to end as they never relinquished the lead after they went up 3-2 on a Donovan Williams three-pointer. Williams led the Rebels with 20 points on a conservative 9-13 shooting performance which consisted primarily of layups and dunks. He also was 2-2 from the three-point line.

On a night where the Rebels’ leading scorer, Bryce Hamilton, struggled mightily, the story was the bench play. Despite Hamilton missing some of his easiest looks of the season, the Rebels were still efficient offensively. Not only were they efficient, but they were also more efficient than they have been all season long. UNLV shot 33-66 from the field, 50%, and 11-22 from the three-point line, their first time shooting 50% from three after 16 games.

Their offensive efficiency came at the right time as the Spartans shot a respectable 37% from the three-point line themselves. Statistically, the Rebels and the Spartans were relatively close to one another except for rebounding, where the Rebels outrebounded the Spartans 40-27. The hot shooting of the Rebels ultimately was the determining factor that separated the Rebels, especially in the middle of the 1st half and early in the 2nd half.


Mike Nuga and seldom-used guard Justin Webster was the catalyst and got the party started for the Rebels scoring 14 and 12 points, respectively.


UNLV vs San Jose State
Photo Credit: UNLV Athletics

Head coach Kevin Kruger decided to utilize the duo’s 30.2 points per game combined average last season. Nuga averaged 17.8 ppg at Kent State, while Webster averaged 12.3 ppg at the University of Hawaii.

As for Nuga, he has already proven what he could do for the Rebels earlier in the season with big games against Wichita State and Seattle. Webster has also shown glimpses and flashbacks of what the Dallas native can do as he shot the ball well against Whittier and in his homecoming against SMUNuga and Webster shot a combined 6-10 from the three-point line while providing valuable offense that came from someone else not named Donovan or Bryce.

The Rebels look to move ahead in the standings as they travel to Colorado Springs to take on Air Force, which was initially scheduled to be played on January 8th. The Rebels game against the Falcons was postponed due to Covid concerns, which began a slew of postponed games as the Rebels had an outbreak of their own.

Now the Rebels look to dig themselves out of a hole in the Mountain West Conference standings where they’re currently sitting at 2-2. The silver lining is that the Rebels have played inspired basketball against the league’s best teams, i.e., San Diego State and Fresno State. With a slate of winnable games, Kruger could not have found a better time to discover more offensive productivity. However, only time will tell.


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


Tonight’s game’s “STREAKER” was Donovan Williams, and the streak stays alive after 1,146 games. Williams knocked down his 3-pointer early. However, it rattled around the rim and back iron, similar to Kawhi Leonard’s late-game-winner in the 2019 NBA Eastern Conference Finals. Less drama, nonetheless!

The “VEGAS HUSTLA’S” of this game goes to the dynamic duo of Mike Nuga and Justin Webster. The pair knocked down a combined six three-pointers and provided some much-needed scoring.


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


The Rebels will travel to Colorado Springs to take on the Air Force Falcons on Thursday, January 20th at 6:00 PM.

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-Che Jones – Franchise Sports Media

Follow Che on Twitter @CoachCheJones

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