UNLV has a rough patch of difficult games in the next few weeks, starting with this game against Boise State in Boise. Boise State is one of the top teams in the Mountain West and is a very tough matchup for any team in this conference.
The Rebels were in control in the first few minutes in the first half going up 13-4 after a Mike Nuga three. With 12 minutes left in the half, however, the Broncos brought the Rebel lead to only within three, 13-10. Boise kept the game close throughout the first half after being down nine to start the game.
The Broncos took their first lead of the night with 5:43 left in the half after a nothing but net bucket from the corner by Abu Kigab, putting the Broncos up 23-22. The lead was short lived, however. The Rebels got the lead back and were up by 4 with just under a minute left before UNLV’s pride and joy, Bryce Hamilton made a three to put them up 34-27. That three put Hamilton at 16 points in just the first half. The first half ended with a score of 36-29, Rebels leading the Broncos in Boise.
The Broncos came out of the half hot going on a 6-0 run to put the Rebel lead down to just one. Boise took the lead back within the first five minutes of the half and extended it to 42-38 after a Marcus Shaver Jr. three point bucket.
UNLV took the lead back after a Royce Hamm Jr. three in the corner putting the Rebels up 47-46. But that lead was short lived. Boise went on 8-2 run putting them up 54-49 with eight and a half minutes to play. UNLV kept the game close after what looked like Boise was going to start running away with it like Utah State did to the Rebels just last week. Both teams started knocking down big threes late in the game including one by Nuga to put the Rebels back with in one with two minutes to play.
With a minute left in the game and the score 62-61 Broncos, the Rebels had a chance to make something happen and beat a very good division opponent. That chance became less of a reality when Kigab for the Broncos hit a three to put them up 65-61. That shot changed the momentum for the Rebels has the final score ended 69-63 Broncos.
This Bronco team was able to play good defense when it mattered and out-rebound this Rebel team. That is why they are able to consistently win in these big games. The Rebels had the leading scorer for both teams in the game and we still not able to pull out the victory. Bryce Hamilton had 32 points and that was a little over half of UNLV’s points. The next closest person was Abu Kigab with 18. This just goes to show that winning in college basketball doesn’t just come down to who can shoot the ball from behind the arc, but who can play good defense and get offensive and defensive boards.
The Rebels continue their road stint this week, going into the SaveMart Center in Fresno to play the Bulldogs on Wednesday, February 16th at 7:30 PM PST.