FSM Essential Recap: UNLV vs Michigan – Game 4


UNLV Runnin’ Rebels (3-1)  |  Michigan Wolverines (2-1)


UNLV held their ground in a standoff against 4th ranked Michigan. The Rebels proved their legitimacy in their first loss of the season, 74-61, to the Wolverines in the Roman Main Event.


A Michigan-heavy fan base packed the T-Mobile Arena to witness the 4th ranked Michigan Wolverines face off against the Runnin Rebels of UNLV. From the onset, the tone insinuated that the Rebels weren’t expected to do anything other than lay down for the Big Ten favorites and possible NCAA #1 seed. The Rebels proved that their three previous dogfights were not the results of either lackluster play or subpar opponents. They also confirmed that if you’re going to beat them, you best be prepared to fight for 40 minutes. Early on in this rare Big Ten/Mountain West matchup, it was clear that the Rebels were in no way intimidated, nor were they prepared to step aside.

T-Mobile Arena was packed with anxious fans that had just witnessed an OT thriller between Witchita State and the University of Arizona. The Roman Main Event did not fail to deliver. Both teams played at a kinetic pace, and the energy was high, mimicking a first-round NCAA tournament game. A game that saw the Wildcats blow a 14-point lead before securing the win and a matchup against the Wolverines on Sunday at 6:30 pm. The Rebels will match up Sunday against Witchita State at 9:00 pm.

Michigan boasts one of the best players in college basketball in 7-1 center, Hunter Dickinson, and a crafty guard in Eli Brooks. Coupled with the addition of an elite athlete, 6-11 freshman Moussa Diabate to last year’s elite eight-team, the Wolverines are both experienced and talented. Dickinson was a handful all night for UNLV’s bigs, and the Rebel guards had a tough time dealing with Eli Brooks, who finished with a game-high 22 points. 

When Rebel guard Jordan McCabe knocked down a three-pointer, he forced Michigan head coach and former member of the famed “Fab FiveJuwan Howard to call a timeout with 5:46. The Rebels ended the first half on a 9-0 run with a second-half three-pointer by Bryce Hamilton just 12 seconds into the second half; the run extended to a 12-0 run and tied the game, 35-35.

The intensity of the night took a break when the score was 45-54. Out of a timeout, Hamilton scored to make the score 47-54. However, both teams fought back and forth, and the game was a slugfest for the most part. The Rebels appeared to take on an identity tonight. Their identity may be the worst nightmare for opposing coaches. Although it’s early, UNLV seems as though they may become that team that badgers you into submission by playing suffocating defense and taking advantage of 1 or 2 players’ one on one ability to score.


Head coach Kevin Kruger blames the Rebels’ inability to bounce back from a second-half lull as the reason why they could overcome a 9 point deficit.


Unlike their previous games, the Rebels struggled to overcome their lapse in offensive efficiency and get back into this contest. Although there are no moral victories, there were multiple takeaways. The Rebels play hard! The Rebels are built for the long games. The Rebels are shooting better. Hamm will and can handle the posts… and the list goes on.

Keshon Gilbert’s ability to defend the basketball is second to none in college basketball. Gilbert moves his feet exceptionally well, and even fighting over a screen doesn’t prevent him from staying on the ball. 

Hamm was able to get back to rebounding the ball. Although he started the game off aggressively offensively, he ultimately slowed down, and despite only scoring 7 points, he pulled down ten boards. Mike Nuga was also aggressive and made it a point to drive the ball downhill and created multiple opportunities for his teammates. Donovan Williams used his length to be disruptive and created matchup issues.  

Bryce Hamilton looked at times like the best player in the tournament, and there were many instances in which he backed that up. Now, the real question is whether or not he can focus on becoming a better passer and rebounder, thus making his game much more attractive to NBA scouts. Hamilton finished the night with 21 points which led all Rebels. Michigan’s Moussa Diabate had 14 points and seven rebounds.




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

The following are game tidbits that may not show up in the boxscore! 

After 133 games, the streak continues to breathe, thanks to this game’s “STREAKERRoyce Hamm Jr.

This night’s “SWAGG-BAGG” goes to Keshon Gilbert for a nifty move. Gilbert made one of the best moves of the year as he sliced and diced his way through the Wolverine defense and elevated on the right side of the basket. Michigan defenders had hands in the air, but the pesky freshman clutched it after showing the ball with his right and quickly switched to the left to kiss it off the glass! The gifted defensive wizard showed that he could take his offense to another level as well.

The “LAS VEGAS HUSTLA” for this game is Mike Nuga. Mike drives the ball hard to basket and often kicks it out to teammates for wide-open looks. Nuga was able to get into the paint at will for the most part.

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


The Rebels will now take on the Shockers of Witchita State at the T-Mobile Arena on Sunday evening. Tip-off is scheduled for 9:00 pm.


UNLV vs Michigan                         UNLV vs Michigan                         UNLV vs Michigan                         UNLV vs Michigan                         UNLV vs Michigan                         UNLV vs Michigan                         UNLV vs Michigan                         UNLV vs Michigan                         UNLV vs Michigan                         UNLV vs Michigan                                          

-Che Jones – Franchise Sports Media

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