UNLV vs Abilene Christian

Runnin’ Rebels (2-3)  |  Wildcats (1-3)

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UNLV ended their three-game losing streak by getting the 72-58 victory over Abilene Christian.

The Runnin’ Rebels were led by junior guard and team captain Amauri Hardy, who scored 25 points. He managed to only miss one shot the entire game, shooting 9-10 (90%) from the field and 4-5 (80%) from beyond the arc. Senior guard and another team captain Elijah Mitrou-Long also scored in double figures with 13 points, while adding five rebounds and four assists. Donnie Tillman also contributed with double figures, putting up 10 points. The transfer from Utah also dished out three assists and recorded two steals.

UNLV was able to score with ease compared to their last game against UCLA. In that game, only four members of the team were able to get on the board and produce any points. All eight players who touched the floor were able to score in this game.

The Rebels’ defense looked a bit better as well, although they did get sloppy for a stretch in the second half. They were able to force Abilene Christian into 12 turnovers and held them to only 37.3% (22-59) shooting from the field.

The Runnin’ Rebels are also continuing to decrease the number of turnovers they give up. Despite having the same amount as the Wildcats, with 12, it is still fewer than their previous games, and they still got the win.

After their last game, head coach TJ Otzelberger said that we was looking forward to coming back home and learning off of those two road losses against power five opponents. It definitely looked like that was the case as the offense ran more fluid and thorough with players moving around and making more cuts to the basket. As opposed to previous games, where the offense looked stagnant with the players just standing around the three-point line and chucking up shots late in the shot clock.

The level of competition was drastically different, but the fact that they are moving a lot more and getting multiple players involved on offense makes a huge difference.

One player in particular who has been increasingly involved in the offense the past two games has been sophomore guard Bryce Hamilton. He was one of the four players to score in double figures in the UCLA game with 10 points, and he contributed 6 points in the win against Abilene Christian. The key difference for him in the past two games has been his shot selection and deciding to drive strong to the basket a little more to keep the defenders honest, instead of just settling for three-pointers.

He was aggressive in his drives to the bucket and received two and-one plays, along with one special play where he got a steal and drove for a powerful one-handed slam.

Hamilton did score less in the latest game but still was able to have his presence felt by being aggressive with the ball in his hands. That aggressive play ended up rewarding him with multiple trips to the free-throw line, going 4 for 6. His best play of the game was when he grabbed a defensive rebound and quickly drove the length of the court for the coast to coast bucket. The play arguably could have been called for an and-one as well.

This game also saw Jonah Antonio return to the box score, as far as points go. After putting up a donut (0 points) in the previous game, he managed to put up 5 points for UNLV. He did struggle to see the ball go in the basket for most of the game, but he managed to at least knock down one of his seven three-point attempts. Getting him back in the flow of things on offense is essential in order for the Runnin’ Rebels to continue being successful.

On the other side of things, Abilene Christian was led by Joe Pleasant and Trey Lenox, who both scored 11 points.

UNLV will now shift their focus over to Texas State. Their next game will be against them on Wednesday, Nov. 20 at 7pm, inside the Thomas & Mack Center. The game can be streamed on unlvrebels.com.

unlv vs Abilene Christian

 

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Isaiah Torres

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Runnin' Rebels vs Abilene Photos

Photography by Terrance Quaites and Trisha LaCoste