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UNLV Runnin’ Rebels (11-8 / 3-3)  |  San Jose State Spartans (7-10 / 0-5)

Franchise Sports Media

 

Hamilton continues his hot streak posting back-to-back 30-point games as he leads the Rebels to their second win over San Jose State, 70-62.

 

UNLV vs San Jose State
Photo Credit: TQ/Franchise Sports Media

It’s not every day that two NCAA Division I men’s basketball teams get the opportunity to “run it back,” as we say in pick-up games. But that’s exactly what the Rebels and the visiting San Jose State Spartans got to do Saturday, which is, ironically, the universally recognized unofficial day for pick-up basketball.

The Rebels were prepared to take on their Mountain West Conference foe with a very present student section but a depleted roster. UNLV was engaged and aggressive from the tip even though second-leading scorer Donovan Williams injured himself during warmups. Williams‘ injury wasn’t necessarily known at tip-off, but apparently, he had a minor injury to his knee. It is unknown how long (if at all) the damage to Williams will have him out of the lineup. The loss of Williams and Marvin Coleman was enough of a blow but coupled with the fact that head coach Kevin Kruger and his staff were without Josh Baker, the Rebel cupboards were bare.

The Rebels jumped out early and showed their eagerness to put the Spartans away, but the Spartans wouldn’t comply. Senior guard Bryce Hamilton continued his hot scoring streak as he posted back-to-back 30-point games for the first time this season. Hamilton finished with 30 points and one rebound shy of a double-double.

Early in the first half, the Spartans were stuck at 10 points, and after a David Muoka steal that led to 3-pointer by Jordan McCabe, the Rebels started a run of their own, rattling off 13 straight points to the Spartans’ 3 points.

The 13-3 run saw the Spartans stalled at 10 points for almost five straight minutes. The 23-10 lead had the Rebels in what appeared to be an inevitable blowout that they couldn’t seem to cook up. As the Rebels maintained their 10-point advantage the majority of the first half, they couldn’t muster any more differential than that.

Around this time, Hamilton decided to piece together another explosive offensive night. Hamilton shot 2-3 from the 3-point line and was 10-19 from the field. His eight misses were an array of layups that bounced around the iron and didn’t quite fall. And for the rest of the Mountain West Conference, the scary thing is Hamilton could have easily scored upwards of 40 points!

His shots were in the paint and at point-blank range for the most part.

 

Hamilton capped off his first half efforts by nailing a 30-foot 3-point shot at the buzzer to get the Thomas & Mack Center crowd on their feet and elated!

 

UNLV vs San Jose State
Photo Credit: TQ/Franchise Sports Media

The Rebels struggled to put the Spartans to bed early in the second half as the action went back and forth between stretches of no scoring for either team and then trading baskets.

After McCabe made a layup early in the second half, Rebel fans saw the lead balloon to 42-26. However, the ensuing possession saw the Spartans nail a 3-pointer. Later in the half, Hamilton dunked the ball off a great pass from freshman Keshon Gilbert to give the Rebels a 50-34 lead, only to see the Spartans race down and nail a 3-pointer to cut the lead back down to 13.

The Rebels appeared poised to blow out San Jose State on numerous occasions, only to give up corner 3-point baskets in response. San Jose launched 37 3-pointers in the game to the Rebels‘ 15, in which they connected on 40% of the long balls. San Jose shot 37% on their 3-point shooting.

Once again, Mike Nuga’s ability to attack the paint and create action was pivotal in the Rebels’ ability to force movement from the Spartan defense and ultimately enabled them to get relatively balanced scoring from everyone else. Jordan McCabe led that group, finishing with 11 points; Victor Iwuakor scored 9 points; Royce Hamm Jr. scored 7 points and led all rebounders (again) with 14 rebounds; Keshon Gilbert scored 7 points to go along with his four assists; Nuga himself scored 8 points.

Trey Anderson led San Jose State with 19 points, nine rebounds, and three assists. Omari Moore added 17 points, seven rebounds, and three assists for the Spartans.

 

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

 

Tonight’s “STREAKER” was Royce Hamm Jr. The streak stays alive after 1,148 games. Hamm nailed his 3-pointer two minutes into the game on an assist from Jordan McCabe. The Rebels were much more responsible in their 3-point shooting this game, connecting on 6 of 15 shots for 40%.

This game’s “VEGAS HUSTLAS” were Mike Nuga and Justin Webster. What Nuga does for Kruger’s offense is give him a straight-line driver, which is pivotal in his system as they search for alternative scoring methods.

 

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

 

The Rebels will travel to San Diego to take on the San Diego State Aztecs on Monday, at 6:00 PM.

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-Che Jones – Franchise Sports Media

Follow Che on Twitter @CoachCheJones

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