Game Recap: Runnin Rebels vs San Diego State

Runnin’ Rebels (15-14, 10-6)  |  San Diego State Aztecs (26-1, 15-1)


UNLV pulls off the biggest upset of the Mountain West basketball season on the road over San Diego State, beating them 66-63.


The Runnin’ Rebels battled it out for all 40 minutes in a tough, hard-fought game to take down the fourth nationally ranked team in the country in the Aztecs. Heading into this game, SDSU was the only undefeated team in the country and was starting to feel like they can finish out the regular season without a loss. UNLV headed into the Viejas Arena with something else in mind, and that was to shock the world.

The Rebels gave the Aztecs their toughest battle so far this season earlier in their Jan. 26 matchup, which SDSU escaped with the slim 67-71 win. Despite being 2-7 this season on the road, UNLV has now managed to win two straight away games in two of the most hostile environments. The Rebels narrowly defeated New Mexico in The Pit of Albuquerque last Saturday, 78-73. They then returned home to the Thomas & Mack Center a few days later to defeat Colorado State in dominant fashion, 80-56.


Winners of their last two and especially having a lead such as 35 over a conference opponent for the first time in a long time, the Runnin’ Rebels were riding high on momentum going into their big battle against the Aztecs.


Senior guard Elijah Mitrou-Long led the way for UNLV with 19 points on 5-12 (41.6%) shooting from the floor and 7-9 (77%) from the free-throw line. Junior guard Amauri Hardy was right behind him with 17 points, shooting 6-14 (42.8%) from the field and 2-5 (40%) from three. Sophomore guard Bryce Hamilton had himself another double-double performance with 11 points and ten rebounds. He shot 5-11 (45%) from the floor and was 1-3 (33%) from beyond the arc.

Mitrou-Long has made his presence felt as a leader for this team since returning from the broken left thumb injury that sidelined him for 12 straight games. He is currently averaging third in scoring for the team on the season with 12 points per game.

Hamilton continued to show why he is one of the best players in the Mountain West and making a strong case for first-team all-conference with his fourth double-double of the season and his 16th straight game scoring in double figures. He is currently leading the team in scoring with 15.5 points per game.

SDSU was led by junior guard Malachi Flynn, who posted a game-high 24 points, while also grabbing nine rebounds and dishing out six assists. The man who is favored to win Conference Player of the Year shot 7-19 (36.8%) from the floor and a perfect 6-6 from the free-throw line. Junior forward Matt Mitchell scored 13 points on 3-8 (37.5%) shooting from the field. Junior guard Jordan Schakel contributed 10 points, shooting 4-10 (40%) from the floor.

Runnin’ Rebels head coach TJ Otzelberger knows the importance of this win for this team heading into March and the future of the program going forward.


“It is a really great win for our program,” said Otzelberger. “Proud of our coaches, our players and everybody involved.”


With a three-game winning streak, the Rebels will now look to finish the regular season on a high note with only two games left.

They will return home to Vegas to face Boise State next week on Senior Night for Mitrou-LongNick Blair, Vitaliy Shibel, and Christopher Hall. UNLV lost earlier this season to Boise State on Jan. 8, 66-73. The Runnin’ Rebels will then end the regular season on the road against San Jose State, who they beat earlier this season on Jan. 15, 98-87.


The Runnin’ Rebels will play Boise State on Wednesday, Feb. 26, at 8 pm. The game will be nationally televised on CBS Sports Network and heard live on ESPN Radio 1100 AM.


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Isaiah Torres

Twitter: Isaiah_Torres24


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