Directed By: Trisha LaCoste/Franchise Sports Media

FSM Essential Recap: UNLV vs North Dakota State – Game 3

Runnin’ Rebels (3-0)  |  NDSU (2-1)


Once again the Rebels show that they are built for a dog fight with yet another win in the closing seconds, improving to 3-0!


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

UNLV fans were perhaps feeling reminiscent of Bill Murray in the classic film “Groundhog Day.” The Rebels once again played another close game, this time against the North Dakota State University Bison, and came away with a 64-62 win at the Thomas & Mack Center on Monday night. Do you feel like you’ve heard me say that line before?

The lingering question within the Thomas & Mack Center, Monday night as the Rebels faced off against the Bison of North Dakota State University: How would they handle a legitimate, experienced opponent? 

This Bison team has a legitimate shot at winning the Summit League’s automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament, and a team that is favored to finish ahead of last season’s NCAA Tournament darlings, Oral Roberts University. In addition, NDSU is a team that boasts three pre-season All-Summit League selections in Rocky KreuserSam Griesel, and Tyree Eady.

The Rebels did not answer that lingering question; we’ll push it aside until next Friday when Kevin Kruger’s Rebels take on the Wolverines of Michigan at T-Mobile Arena. Not only did the Rebels refrain from answering the question, they almost mirrored their win from Saturday night against the California Bears after winning their first game against Gardner-Webb in the same manner. The games were eerily similar, yet both were confidence builders for first-year head coach Kevin Kruger and his staff.

The past two games had heavy doses of Bryce Hamilton down the stretch to keep the opponent at bay. Hamilton, who struggled early and got into a bit of foul trouble against NDSU, came on strong at the end, seeming almost undefendable at times. Hamilton paired with teammate Royce Hamm Jr. on some high ball-screen action that forced the Bison into an uncomfortable four/five action that left them either out of position or confused. Hamilton took advantage of the indecisiveness and scored at will down the stretch.

To once again ride on the back of the offensive prowess of Hamilton or witnessing Jordan McCabe at the free-throw line in the closing moments wasn’t enough because the similarities didn’t end there. The finale got the fans up and out of their seats and yelled loud enough to make the 4,000 fans inside the Thomas & Mack sound more like 40,000 fans! 

Just like the end of the Rebels win against Cal, Hamm Jr. and his teammates put forth a defensive effort that culminated in yet another game-saving block for Hamm. Kruger said, “Having a solid trust in each other defensively will give us a shot every night.”


If the defensive energy of this group is the law of the land, then freshman Keshon Gilbert is the Mayor! Gilbert has an immediate impact within seconds of checking into the game. As coach Kruger said himself, “This city will love him!”


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

Gilbert has slowly but surely shown his ability to score and make plays in transition as well. After creating a turnover after only having been in the game for a few seconds, Gilbert got the crowd in a frenzy with crafty dipsy-so move ala the 80’s version of his Airness himself, Michael Jordan.

The Rebel offense once again felt the calming presence of Jordan McCabe. He kept pressure from Bison defenders at a distance with his ability to handle the basketball and knock down shots from the three-point line or off the 1-dribble pull-up. 

McCabe seems to command the offense his teammates don’t yet seem to have, and players like Hamilton are slowly feeling their way through it. McCabe appears to be comfortable directing traffic as well as calling his number when need be.

Michael Nuga was the usual aggressive guard with whom Rebel fans are becoming enamored. He plays hard at all times, and his tenacity is more than welcomed at the Thomas & Mack. Aside from having his second straight game-saving block, Hamm Jr. also had his second game with 17 rebounds, so far averaging 13.7 rebounds per game.

Reserves Marvin Coleman and David Muoka were both equally effective coming off the bench and spelling teammates for stretches at a time. Both are efficient and low-risk system guys that don’t hurt you when in the game. They were instrumental in securing the win.

When asked if winning close games such as those against Cal and NDSU defensively was refreshing, Kruger replied, “Yes… it’s showing them that all of the work that they’ve put in since June 1 is giving them results, because they’ve done a really good job defensively, in these three games“.

The Bison offense was spearheaded throughout the night by the outside touch of the 6-10 Rocky Kreuser. He is a matchup nightmare, was able to knock down shots from distance, and was able to keep his team within two possessions for most of the game. Kreuser finished the night with 17 points and ten rebounds to go along with a solid performance off the bench from Maleeck Harden-Hayes, who scored 12 points and pulled down four 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! 

The streak continues to breathe! This game’s “STREAKER” is Donovan Williams. At the 12:09 mark, he nailed the first 3-pointer, extending the streak to 1,132 straight games.

The “SWAGG-BAGG” goes to Donovan Williams. He had two great plays tonight, but one, in particular, was a dunk that he claims he had been dreaming of! Williams nodded his head with assertion saying, “Yeah, that one was nice!” Yeah, Donovan, we agree!

Once again, tonight’s “LAS VEGAS HUSTLA” is Royce Hamm Jr.  Blocking a shot to win/secure a win for your team is a big man’s dream come true, but to do it in back to back games is unheard of…unless, of course, your Royce Hamm Jr., in which it’s just, Monday!

Former 25th Nevada Governor and United States Senator (1989-2001) Richard Bryan was in attendance cheering on his hometown team.

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 University of Michigan at the T-Mobile Arena on Friday evening. Tip-off is scheduled for 9:30pm. The game can be seen on ESPN2.


UNLV vs North Dakota State                               UNLV vs North Dakota State                              UNLV vs North Dakota State                   UNLV vs North Dakota State                               UNLV vs North Dakota State                              UNLV vs North Dakota State                   UNLV vs North Dakota State                               UNLV vs North Dakota State                              UNLV vs North Dakota State                   UNLV vs North Dakota State                               UNLV vs North Dakota State                  

-Che Jones – Franchise Sports Media

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