Game Recap: UNLV 76, Boise State 66
Amauri Hardy and Bryce Hamilton combine for over half of UNLV’s offense in Wednesday night’s win.
Rebel duo leads UNLV over Boise State in late night win at home.
Las Vegas, NV–The Runnin’ Rebels played host to the Boise State Broncos in a late Wednesday night game in the Thomas and Mack Center. And in preparation for the Mountain West Conference tournament, they started a home winning streak last night (2 strong) that they hope to continue into next week, with a ten-point win over Boise State.
The Bronco’s struggled to knock down shots early on and found themselves with a twelve point deficit going into the half down 24-34. Senior Justinian Jessup continued his strong shooting from deep and led the team in scoring with 19 points, but even he himself finished the night 5-12 from the field. The rest of the team combined to shoot 5-17 (29.4%) from deep and 15-52 (28.8%) from the field. Even leading scorer Derrick Alston Jr. had a poor night shooting but still finished the night with 11 points and 8 rebounds.
Rounding it out was senior RJ Williams got his tenth double-double of the season on Wednesday night as he finished with 10 points and 13 rebounds.
UNLV looked like a methodical bunch all night, as the ball movement and player cuts were there in abundance from multiple players. Sophomore guard Bryce Hamilton had a great night shooting the ball, going 7-12 from the field and from a little bit of everywhere. And though the Runnin’ Rebels as a whole shot poorly from the free throw line (14-27 for 51.9%) Hamilton was able to convert on 6-10 FTs after effectively driving the lane and getting to the line continuously.
If we were giving out a Doctor Jekyll and Mr. Hyde award to a Mountain West team this season, UNLV would sure be a nominee. They’re back to playing some of their best basketball of the season with a deadly quartet of guards ready to make an impact in the conference tournament. Alongside Hamilton was junior guard Amauri Hardy who scored a team-high 24 points while grabbing 6 rebounds and dishing out 5 assists. The duo created a dangerous scoring attack all night that drew defensive attention while freeing up space for others to score.
Elijah Mitrou-Long contributed 16 points on 1-6 shooting from three but knocked down 7-14 from the field overall. And the last guard of that previously mentioned quartet is Marvin Coleman, who had Nick Blair start in his place on senior night, but managed to chip in five points and grab a team high 11 rebounds in his 29 minutes of play (he’s a 6-2 guard).
When head coach TJ Otzelberger has his guards playing smart basketball by penetrating and distributing the ball, they can win. Don’t let them settle for threes or jump shots because that is not their strength, take last night for example. The team as a whole finished 6-24 (25.0%) from deep and luckily realized early on that they weren’t going to fall and just continued to drive. Like most of the middle of the pack in the Mountain West, UNLV is dangerous.
And it looks like they have found a winning formula with missing starter Donnie Tillman out with what may be a season ending knee injury.
Boise State Broncos:
That’s a regular season wrap for the Broncos. Tonight’s loss was the last regular season game on Boise State’s schedule. For now, Leon Rice and company will take the weekend off, watch some conference match ups and see where they end for tournament seeding come March.
UNLV Runnin’ Rebels:
Unlike the Broncos the Runnin’ Rebels have one more game on their slate this Saturday as the they head to the Provident Credit Union Event Center to take San Jose State. UNLV should leave with a win, and if they do they would solidify their lead over the Broncos in the final standings.