Runnin Rebels vs San Jose State

Runnin’ Rebels (17-14, 12-6)  |  San Jose State Spartans (7-23, 3-15)


UNLV finished the regular season with a dominating win over San Jose State, 92-69.


Senior guard Elijah Mitrou-Long led the way for the Runnin’ Rebels with 20 points, shooting 8-14 (57.1%) from the floor and 3-7 (42.8%) from three. The team co-captain from Canada also grabbed six rebounds and dished out six assists. Unfortunately, Mitrou-Long left the game early with an injury; there was not any further information on his status. He already missed twelve straight games earlier in the season due to a broken left thumb.

Junior forward Mbacke Diong was right behind him with a double-double performance of 19 points and 12 rebounds. His 19 points match his career-high. Diong shot a perfect 7-7 from the field and was 5-10 (50%) from the free-throw line.

Sophomore guard Bryce Hamilton contributed 18 points on 7-16 (43.7%) shooting from the floor and going a perfect 2-2 from both the three-point and free-throw line. The team’s leading scorer throughout the season has now scored in double-figures in 18 consecutive games, adding to his 15.7 points per game average for the season. He was also awarded the Mountain West Conference Player of the Week for the second time this season earlier in the week.

Hamilton finished the regular season averaging 20.9 points per game in conference play. He is the first player to average at least 20 points in conference play since Tre’Von Willis averaged 20.3 10 years ago, in 2009-10. Junior guard Amauri Hardy rounded out the players who scored in double-figures with 17 points, shooting 50% from both the field (6-12) and beyond the arc (2-4). The other co-captain for the Rebels also grabbed three rebounds and dished out eight assists.

On the other side of things, it was sophomore guard Seneca Knight who led the Spartans with 20 points on 4-10 (40%) shooting. Sophomore guard Trey Smith also scored in double-figures with 11 points on 4-9 (44%) shooting.


With this win, UNLV swept the season series with SJSU, after defeating them at home last month, 98-87. The Rebels finish the season with 12 conference wins, their first time reaching that amount in 12 years.


“We challenged our guys,” said Rebels‘ head coach TJ Otzelberger. “That is a tough environment to play in because you have to generate your own energy. I am proud of our guys how they came out with a focus early in the game. In the second half, we were really able to separate because our defensive energy was good. To hold them under 40 percent from the field on their court speaks to the continued improvement of our defense, and that led to our offensive transition.”

The Runnin’ Rebels already clinched a first-round bye into next week’s Mountain West Conference Tournament earlier in the week after their 10-point win over Boise State. At the time of this post, the Rebels currently sit at fourth in the conference, behind San Diego State, Utah State, and UNR. They can slide up and finish in third place by the end of the night if UNR loses to SDSU and USU loses to New Mexico. Whether it’s third or fourth, it is still better than where they were projected to finish, at sixth, at the beginning of the season.

UNLV will now go into the conference tournament riding a five-game winning streak, having not lost since their Feb. 12 game against UNR. They will not play again until Thursday night’s quarterfinal round. If they stay at the fourth seed, they will play at 2 pm; if they move up to the third seed, they will play at 8:30 pm.

The Runnin’ Rebels have to be feeling confident, as they’ve been able to beat every team in the conference at least once except for UNR. That includes being the only team to have beaten SDSU this year, spoiling their undefeated season last Saturday on the road.


The Rebels will play against an undetermined opponent on Thursday, March 5 in the quarterfinals of the conference tournament.


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Isaiah Torres

Twitter: Isaiah_Torres24


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