GAME RECAP: Runnin’ Rebels vs BYU

Runnin’ Rebels (4-7, 1-0) | BYU Cougars (7-4, 0-0)

Runnin’ Rebels vs BYU

Despite carrying some momentum from their recent double-overtime victory, UNLV lost badly in their neutral site game against BYU.

Last season, these two schools faced off against each other inside the T-Mobile Arena and ended in dramatic fashion with Noah Robotham making a game-winning buzzer-beating three-pointer in overtime to get the 92-90 win for UNLV. The game was not nearly as close in this year’s edition as BYU got their revenge by beating the Runnin’ Rebels, 83-50. While they played in Las Vegas in last year’s game, this game took place in the Vivint Smart Home Arena, home of the Utah Jazz. The Cougars definitely felt the home crowd as the neutral site game was played in their home state in Salt Lake City.

Senior forward Dalton Nixon scored his career-high 17 points to help lead BYU. Their team’s leading scorer, senior forward Yoeli Childs, also contributed with a double-double 13 points and 14 rebounds. The Cougars shot 29-53 (54.7%) from the floor and 14-27 (51.9%) from beyond the arc. They had four players score in double figures, as making their shots seemed to never be an issue for them from tip-off all the way to the final buzzer.

For UNLV, they were once again led by junior forward Donnie Tillman, who scored a team-high 13 points. He struggled to really get himself into the flow of things due to being in foul trouble early and finished the game with four fouls. Senior forward Nick Blair was the only other Runnin’ Rebel to score in double figures, finishing with 10 points and grabbing seven rebounds. Junior guard and team captain Amauri Hardy finished with nine points, failing to reach double-digits in points for the first time this season.

It was the complete opposite for UNLV when it came to getting the ball in the basket. They shot a combined 35.1% (20-57) from the field and 29.2% (7-24) on three-point attempts. It was a real downer for the team playing their worst game of the year, especially playing probably their best game in their conference-opening victory over Fresno State.

Senior guard and the team’s other captain Elijah Mitrou-Long missed his second consecutive game due to a broken left thumb suffered in practice earlier this week. The timetable for his return is 6-8 weeks. Junior guard Jonah Antonio also missed his sixth straight game due to a left-hand injury. There is no timetable for when he will be back.

Head coach TJ Otzelberger after the game said that the team’s effort was unacceptable. He also said that he is looking forward to addressing all of their mistakes in practice on Monday. After playing three straight games on the road due to the bull riding competition being in town, the Runnin’ Rebels will return to the Thomas & Mack Center to play their next five consecutive games at home.

The Rebels will look for Tillman and Hardy to bounce back and lead the way for them on offense. Depth seems to be a huge issue for the team at this point. They will be hoping for Antonio to return at least by the time they resume conference play, as he is a key three-point shooter, something the team seriously lacks.

Sophomore guard Bryce Hamilton seemed to take a step back in this game, after posting a career-high double-double in the previous game. He will need to also bounce back and find what has been working for him in the latest stretch of games that saw him gradually become someone that the team trusts to have the ball in his hands, especially in the closing moments of games.

Sophomore guard Marvin Coleman will also need to continue stepping up due to his increased playing time. He made a clutch three-pointer in their comeback victory late in the second half against Fresno State. He will now have to be more aggressive and take more open shots when it is there for him.

Their next game will be against another non-conference opponent in Pacific, out of the West Coast Conference (WCC).

The game will take place on Wednesday, Dec. 18 at 7 pm.

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Runnin’ Rebels vs BYU

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Isaiah Torres

Twitter: @Isaiah_Torres24

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