Recap: UNLV Runnin Rebels vs Air Force

Runnin’ Rebels (8-8, 3-0) | Air Force Falcons (7-8, 1-2)


UNLV continued rolling and won their fourth straight game against Air Force, 71-59.


The win now gives the Runnin’ Rebels a perfect 3-0 record in Mountain West conference play, only their second time in program history since joining the conference in 1999.

They were led by junior guard Amauri Hardy who scored a game-high 21 points, going 6-11 (54%) from the field and 2-5 (40%) from the three. The team’s co-captain continues to lead the team in scoring with 15.5 points per game. Sophomore guard Bryce Hamilton continued his three-game streak of scoring in double figures with 15 points in 19 minutes. Hamilton shot 6-8 (75%) from the field while also grabbing three rebounds.

Junior forward, Mbacke Diong also continued his four-game streak of scoring in double figures with 12 points on 4-9 (44%) shooting from the floor. Diong also pulled down eight rebounds, falling two shy from recording another double-double.

Air Force also had three players score in double figures, being led by senior forward Lavelle Scottie with 19 points. Senior center Ryan Swan was right behind him with 18 points. Sophomore guard AJ Walker also contributed 12 points for the Falcons. Together the three of them accounted for 49 of the team’s 59 total points, their second-lowest point total of the season.

Senior guard Elijah Mitrou-Long missed his seventh straight game due to a broken left thumb. There is still no timetable for when the team’s other co-captain will return to action. Before his injury, he was averaging 12.9 points, four rebounds, and 3.8 assists per game.

UNLV was also without junior forward Donnie Tillman. Head coach TJ Otzelberger scrapped him from the lineup due to showing up late for team shootaround. We will have to wait to see if Otzelberger puts Tillman back in the starting lineup for their next game.

The jury is out on the decision to pull one of the teams’ best players out of the game. Although it is a risk, they were still able to pull off the victory. Like a few others, I also like the coach’s decision to make this statement and set principles for how the team and program will run. Otzelberger is setting a foundation for how he envisions Runnin’ Rebel basketball should be about.

This is not the first time he’s done something like this. Earlier in the season, he held Hamilton and senior forward Nick Blair on a minute restriction for violating team rules. It looks like he will continue to lay down consequences to any of his players, no matter how important they are, to maintain the respect and control of the team.

This game was the finale of a five-game homestand that saw the Runnin’ Rebels return their record to .500 and remain undefeated in conference play. They will now have to hit the road for their next two games against Boise State and Wyoming. Boise State currently has a record of 10-6 (2-2) and is coming off a blowout 66-83 loss to UNR. Wyoming has a losing record of 5-11 and is winless in conference play (0-4). Their last game was a 61-72 loss to Colorado State.

We will now have to wait and see if the Runnin’ Rebels can carry this momentum with them as they prepare for their two consecutive road games. The last time UNLV played away from the Thomas & Mack Center, they lost in their worst game of the season in a 50-83 blowout to BYU. Since then, they have won four of their last five games and are now looking to remain undefeated in conference play.


UNLV will travel to Idaho to play against Boise State on Wednesday, Jan. 8 at 6 pm. The game can be seen on ESPN3 and heard on ESPN Radio 1100 AM.

Runnin Rebels vs Air Force     Runnin Rebels vs Air Force     Runnin Rebels vs Air Force     Runnin Rebels vs Air Force

Runnin Rebels vs Air Force

Isaiah Torres

Twitter: Isaiah_Torres24


Buy Runnin’ Rebel tickets here


Follow The Franchise on social media