Runnin Rebels vs New Mexico

Runnin’ Rebels (11-9, 6-1) | New Mexico  (15-5, 4-3)


UNLV didn’t just beat New Mexico; they demoralized them. The Rebels used a substantial 2nd half scoring burst (The 2nd in as many games) to quite literally run the Lobos off the court. The 99-78 win felt more like 50 points based on the level of energy and excitement from the black-clad UNLV faithful inside the Thomas and Mack Center. There were too many big plays and big performances to count. 


The moment of the game came on a stunning tomahawk jam by Amauri Hardy. Hardy drove hard baseline, elevated, and then just kept elevating over a wide-eyed New Mexico big man. The thunderous left-handed jam that ensued was worthy of the number one spot on the SportsCenter Top 10. Hardy finished with 12 points, six rebounds, and six assists on 4/7 shooting. 


The performance of the game ended up being the most significant performance by a Rebel since 1999. That’s the last time someone in a UNLV jersey posted a triple-double. Mark Dickel is one of the most heralded point guards in school history, and he was 2nd in the country in overall assists by the time he was a senior. It’s not surprising that he was the last to accomplish such a feat.

Marvin Coleman, on the other hand, started as a walk-on. His 11 points, 11 assists, and 12 rebounds are the stuff of legend. Coleman has been the catalyst of UNLV’s rise to 6-1 in MWC play, and the local product is fast becoming one of the best stories in college basketball this year, period. 


Not to be outdone, Bryce Hamilton exploded for a career-high 35 points. As incredible as that is, Hamilton did it on 14/19 shooting (73%), and 2/4 from three-point range. It doesn’t get more efficient than that. Frankly, he has been unguardable since entering conference play. Hamilton is always in attack mode, takes good, high percentage shots, and uses an elite package of moves to leave his defenders hapless. 


The other former walk-on who was granted a scholarship in the offseason, Nick Blair, was perfect. The former Gorman Gael hit all 7 of his shot attempts on his way to 14 points and five rebounds. 


Jonah Antonio had a noteworthy game as well. After slumping a little bit early in the season after adjusting from JUCO, and a hand injury, the Australian native, has finally found his shot. Antonio hit four big threes and totaled 14 points on the afternoon. UNLV needs his shooting, and he has delivered in a major way ever since the OT win at Wyoming. 


UNLV used a 9-0 run to close out the 1st half after New Mexico started the game hot. The Rebels went into the locker room up 43-40, and then never looked back. The momentum was overwhelmingly on the side of the home team, and they masterfully pulled away the rest of the way. UNLV shared the ball nicely, with 23 assists on 38 made baskets. They also had another dominating rebounding effort, demolishing UNM in the category, 47-31. This exciting win has catapulted them to 2nd place in the MWC standings, with a rivalry game at UNR on the horizon this upcoming Wednesday. 


Overall the Rebels are now 11-9 and playing by far their best basketball of the season. Head coach TJ Otzelberger sent the team a stern message after some porous play in the non-conference portion of the schedule, and it has been well received. UNLV is back to its runnin’ ways, and embodying the effort, energy, and now the execution that the first-year coach envisioned when he first took the job. The T&M won’t be empty much longer if this keeps up. 


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Isaiah Torres

Twitter: Isaiah_Torres24


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