FSM Essential Recap: UNLV vs Boise State – Game 29

UNLV Runnin’ Rebels (17-12 / 9-7)  |  Boise State Broncos (23-6 / 14-2)

Franchise Sports Media


UNLV fights but to no avail in a blow-for-blow Mountain West Conference bout against Boise State, losing 86-76.


UNLV vs Boise State
Photo Credit: TQ/Franchise Sports Media

Twenty-five minutes before game time, there was a particular type of energy not seen for a long time. The student section seemed extra energized, as did the anxious Rebel fan base. The atmosphere was more than what we expected from a Rebel crowd in recent years, but the lurking question remained. Would this raucous environment be too much to absorb for the Boise State Broncos or this new but inspired Rebels team?

This type of environment had not been commonplace for this Rebel’s bunch until now. The stakes were high, and it was clear what the Keven’ Kruger’s Rebels were looking to do, and every single possession had a sense of urgency attached to it.

Early on, it appeared as though the atmosphere was a lot to handle, but the second unit came in a seemed to settle in behind the play of Justin Webster, Donovan Williams, and David Muoka. They were steady and effective on both the defensive and offensive ends of the court. Williams looked like he tapped into his former self as he drove the ball and shot jump shots as he did in the early part of the season.

Along with Williams, Muoka made his presence felt in the middle immediately. After Webster knocked down a couple of timely three-pointers, the Rebels‘ second unit looked to steady the ship. Coupled with the Rebel defenders handling the screens better, they could make a game of it.

UNLV was doing a solid job of backing the Broncos up against the ropes. However, the officiating, much to the chagrin of the Rebel faithful, did not share the sentiment. On more than a few occasions, the officials made calls that prevented the Rebels from taking the lead or shifting the momentum and placed critical players in foul trouble. Mountain West Conference-leading scorer Bryce Hamilton sat most of the first half due to foul trouble (2), and then soon after that, starter Victor Iwuakor picked up his third foul and was forced to the bench.


Kruger was able to slow down Boise State Broncos guard Marcus Shaver Jr. after some minor adjustments, but he still had 15 points at halftime.


UNLV vs Boise State
Photo Credit: TQ/Franchise Sports Media

However, that was only for the time being. Shaver went on to another 12 points late in the second half as he led all scorers with 27 points. Shaver had his way late as he drove the ball downhill intending to put Rebel defenders on their heels, and was successful either by scoring, dishing to open teammates, or getting to the free-throw line.

Shaver was excellent, and his teammates backed him up as Abu Kigab had his way barreling into the paint against smaller defenders or hitting mid-range jump shots over shorter defenders. Kigab was effective and to the detriment of UNLV as he scored 23 points, 14 of which came in the second half. Tyson Degenhart also added 10 points for the Broncos.

The Achilles heel for the Rebels was rebounding. Although the Rebels were only outrebounded 38-29, it was more their inability to get timely rebounds that may have cost them this game. On numerous occasions, the Broncos were at the free-throw line (where they shot a dismal 52%) and missed their second free throw but were able to corral the rebounds and subsequently score.

The Rebels gave up three such possessions that led to three-pointers and others that also led to baskets. The Rebels‘ inability to get these timely rebounds at crucial points in the game proved to be the turning points, as the Broncos ended the night with a 21-5 difference in second-chance points.

As good as Shaver was, Hamilton again showed his penitent to score and make high-difficulty shots. Hamilton hit three-pointers, floaters, layups, and anywhere else he could score on the court. After having to sit for the majority of the first half with two fouls, Hamilton was never able to establish himself early, and luckily for Boise State, he wasn’t able to; because he looked to be well on his way to going on another one of his scoring binges that have become so familiar in Mountain West Conference play this season.

Hamilton was only able to score 5 points in the first half but put on a scoring clinic against the Broncos, much to the delight of “The Rebellion.” Hamilton scored 20 points and was virtually unstoppable for the better part of the second half, scoring in various ways.

A bright spot for the Rebels was the reemergence of Williams. Williams looked to be back to the slashing version of himself that Rebel fans had gotten to love with 17 points and four assists. Royce Hamm Jr. was also a factor contributing 12 points to go along with only four rebounds, well below his average on the glass.

According to Kruger, Williams play offensively, and freshman Keshon Gilbert’s tenacity on the defensive end was pivotal in the Rebels making a game out of this matchup. Muoka continues to be a force in the middle as he came in, had an impact, and finished just shy of a double-double with 9 points and a game-high seven rebounds. Jordan McCabe once again had an efficient night handling the basketball (5 assists, 0 turnovers) but was held scoreless on only three shots.

Kruger was quick to say, “There are no moral victories! It’s about winning games.” He then went on to say, “We were right there. We gave ourselves a chance to beat Boise.” He said that this game will give them valuable film to go over on Monday and that this group, however, is not an experienced Mountain West Conference team. They have matured from the other places they have played and understand how to get better from watching film such as this.



The “STREAKER” for this game was none other than Royce Hamm Jr. Hamm knocked down the trey from the top with 17:16 to make the score 7-6 Broncos. The streak now stands at 1,158 games.

In tonight’s game, the “VEGAS HUSTLA’S” were Keshon Gilbert and David Muoka! The duo of Muoka and Gilbert came off the Rebel’s bench and gave Kruger valuable minutes during a pivotal stretch of the game and were able to shift the tide and make a game of it as the night seemed as though it might get out of hand.


Don’t forget to go out and support the Runnin’ RebelsClick here to get your UNLV Runnin’ Rebels tickets! 


The Rebels will be back at Thomas & Mack Wednesday to honor their seniors on senior night. UNLV takes on the Wyoming Cowboys at 7:30 PM. The game will be televised on FOX Sports1.

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-Che Jones – Franchise Sports Media

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