FSM Essential Recap: UNLV vs Fresno State – Game 16


UNLV Runnin’ Rebels (9-7 / 1-2)  |  Fresno State Bulldogs (12-4 / 2-1)


UNLV clawed their way back into a classic back and forth matchup with the Bulldogs only to fall short in the final possesions to lose 73-68.


UNLV vs Fresno State
Photo Credit: Trisha LaCoste/Franchise Sports Media

Heavy is the head that wears the crown. UNLV Runnin Rebels (9-7, 1-2) leading scored Bryce Hamilton is sure to feel the brunt of the Rebel faithful/naysayers as the social media “Phil Jackson’s” and “John Wooden’s” of the world weigh in on what should or shouldn’t have happened in the closing moments of the Rebels’ 73-68 loss to the Fresno State Bulldogs (12-4, 2-1).

Hamilton had a good game, especially in the 2nd half. Hamilton scored 17 of his game-high 24 points in the 2nd half on 6-9 shooting from the field, including 3-5 from the three-point line.

The game started as what appeared to be the Orlando Robinson instructional video. The 7-foot Las Vegan displayed what he has been working on in Fresno over the past few years and gave the Thomas & Mack Center an early glimpse of a player that is sure to be back home for the NBA Summer League. Robinson had Rebel fans concerned as his first touch was a physical yet technical post-move, Fresno State 2, UNLV 0. Robinson then knocked down a jump shot, Fresno State 4, UNLV 0. Then, after a steal by Isaiah Hill, Robinson threw down a thunderous dunk which his athleticism and ability to run the floor on display, Fresno State 6, UNLV 0!

Those first 6 points of the game established early on that Robinson was not only the best big on the Thomas & Mack Center floor but perhaps, as UNLV coach Kevin Kruger eluded to in the post-game press conference, one of the best bigs on the West Coast! Robinson finished the night tied with Hamilton for a game-high 24 points with 11 rebounds and two blocked shots.

After Kruger called a timeout at the 17:45 mark, the Rebels appeared to reconvene and settled end. The Rebels had gone on a 10-3 run by the following media timeout. Both teams took shots at one another. They managed to play even for the majority of the half until the Bulldogs separated and went on a 12-1 run, closing out the 1st half. UNLV went into the intermission down 33-23.


The facts are, Bryce Hamilton missed a questionable shot with 0:19 to tie the game.

UNLV vs Fresno State
Photo Credit: Trisha LaCoste/Franchise Sports Media

The irony of the night is, the Rebels were only in the position to win/lose the game because Bryce Hamilton is willing to shoulder the burden of taking a questionable shot.

The action in the second half continued to go in the Bulldogs’ favor as they began to get better guard play as Hill and Anthony Holland found the basket with more frequency. The duo scored a total of 20 of their 26 points in the second half. Holland finished the game with 16 points, and Hill added 10.

As Kruger’s Rebels did a much better job on Robinson in the 2nd half, the Bulldogs’ guards began to get it going. A steady dose of Royce Hamm Jr., Victor Iwuakor, and David Muoka played Robinson much more respectable in the 2nd half, forcing him to shoot 2-7 from the field, 3 of which were from beyond the three-point line (1-3).

Kruger likened this game to the San Diego State game in which the Rebels seemed to hit a “rut,” as Kruger called it.

Kruger credited Fresno State with forcing his team to be uncomfortable. Kruger said, “They were dictating what was happening.” But, he also added, “I thought in the second half, especially late; I thought we were doing a much better job of catching where we wanted to.”

The Bulldogs were active a disrupted the Rebels forcing them to be late getting to spots and affecting timing and uncertainty.

The Rebels trailed the Bulldogs by as many as 14 points, 61-47. With roughly 6:00 minutes to play, the deficit was 11 points. As the Thomas & Mack Center began to percolate with energy, the Rebel defense began to feed off that energy and slowly but surely began to chip away. Bryce Hamilton opted to adjust the weight of his crown as the reigning King of Rebel scoring. After an acrobatic basket and free throw, due to the foul, Hamilton began to carry his team and drag his teammates along with him. It was clear that Hamilton put the honus upon himself to bully his way to the game’s final possession.

Hamilton proceeded to make difficult shot after difficult shot. After Hamilton made a pair of free throws, it appeared as though the Rebels made be poised to mount a comeback. However, the Rebels had already made a pair of defensive stances that got the T&M out of their seats, and just when Hollywood was ready to call for the script, the Rebels were able to get another stop. After a Hamilton rebound, the arena’s energy was at a fevered pitch.

Hamilton snatched the defensive rebound with 0:25 on the clock, and the Bulldog lead now cut to 3 points. Hamilton glanced up at the clock and proceeded to push the ball in transition. Hamilton pulled up beyond the arc, and the ball careened off the rim only after it teased the Rebels and 4,976 spectators of what could’ve been a legendary comeback. That comeback would have rivaled the UNLV at San Diego State comeback down by 10 points with 21.3 seconds on the clock. Instead, Hamilton missed the three-point attempt as it bounced around the rim only to bounce off.

Royce Hamm Jr. finished the night with 14 points and eight rebounds. Donovan Williams finished the evening with 15 points and, most importantly, shooting 7-10 from the free-throw line.


The following are in-game tidbits that may or may not appear in the boxscore.


Bryce Hamilton is once again the “STREAKER” in this game. After 1,1445 games. Hamilton knocked down the 3-pointer with 16:28 left in the 1st half.!

The “VEGAS HUSTLA” of this game was Donovan Williams. Williams was noticeably upset with himself after having missed free throws against San Diego State. Williams never took his uniform off and waited for fans to clear the Thomas & Mack Center so he could get back on the court and practice shooting free throws. After his 7-10 performance, Williams proudly stated, “I’ve been working on them!’


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


The Rebels will take on the San Jose State Aztecs in San Jose on Monday January, 17th at 6:00 PM

UNLV vs New Mexico.                                        UNLV vs New Mexico                         UNLV vs New Mexico                         UNLV vs New Mexico                                         UNLV vs New Mexico                         UNLV vs New Mexico                         UNLV vs New Mexico                                         UNLV vs New Mexico                         UNLV vs New Mexico                         UNLV vs New Mexico                                         UNLV vs New Mexico                         UNLV vs New Mexico                        

-Che Jones – Franchise Sports Media

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