FSM Essential Recap: UNLV vs Seattle – Game 10


UNLV Runnin’ Rebels (5-5)  |  Seattle Redhawks Dons (7-3)


Hamilton and Nuga get UNLV off the schneid with a 20-point win over visiting Seattle University, 76-56, at  Michelob Ultra Arena at the Mandalay Bay


UNLV vs Seattle
Photo Credit: Trisha LaCoste/Franchise Sports Media

After the Runnin’ Rebel’s practice on Tuesday morning, an unusually cheerful Kevin Kruger joked with the media when asked about whether or not leading scorer Bryce Hamilton would be reinserted into the starting lineup. On Wednesday night, “Oooh! You’ll just have to come to the game and see, won’t you”?

Moments later, Kruger repeated the media ribbing like a well-timed veteran comedian when asked if Rebel fans would get their first glimpse of Victor Iwuakor after he had an excellent full-contact practice.

The first-year head coach did not leave the limited amount of Rebel fans in attendance in suspense very long as he did put Hamilton back in the starting lineup. At the 17:56 mark, he inserted Iwuakor into the lineup for the first time, making an immediate impact.

If his first play as a Rebel indicates his future, it may be a very bright one. Within seconds of stepping on the floor, Iwuakor got a steal and sparked not only a rare fastbreak basket for UNLV but also spearheaded a 20-5 run. After another slow start, the Rebels fell behind from the tip, 8-0. However, the energy that Iwuakor brought to the floor was contagious, and it showed as the Rebels were able to get out in transition for a change. And in a back and forth battle with a solid Seattle Redhawk team, the home team went into the locker room with a 36-30 halftime lead.

Hamilton was his usual offensively aggressive self; he appeared to look as if he started from where he left off in the San Francisco game. Hamilton got into the heart of the Redhawk defense easily and often, finishing the night with 8-9 shooting from the field. With his constant attacking of the paint coupled with the rebounding of Royce Hamm Jr., the Rebels never relinquished their lead, only building upon it in small increments.

As Iwuakor brought the energy and Hamm brought the rebounding, coupled with Hamilton’s scoring was the offensive emergence of Mike Nuga. He has been aggressive since the first game of this season. However, against Seattle, Nuga was ultra-aggressive, and he was looking to make plays for his team from the early part of the contest. Nuga finished at the rim as he usually does but also added to his repertoire a barrage of three-pointers in the second half that allowed the Rebels to separate themselves.

Kruger and Nuga both eluded to Nuga making some personal changes to his preparation to explain his abrupt turnaround. However, it was clear to all in attendance that the changes paid dividends last night. Nuga’s contribution in the backcourt may be the type of contribution that the Rebels may have been looking for to make life easier for Hamilton. If Nuga proves to be the Robin to Hamilton’s Batman, the Rebels may just so happen to have found a happy place.


Although Seattle proved to be a lesser opponent, the Rebels will still be able to look back at this game as a turning point in their season.


UNLV vs Seattle
Photo Credit: TQ/Franchise Sports Media

UNLV played together and genuinely looked happy to see one another succeed. They willingly passed the ball; they eagerly talked and communicated on defense. If such a thing were charted, they definitely would have had a season-high in high-fives. After many plays on both sides of the ball, the Rebels acknowledged teammates’ passes. All night they helped defensively and helped each other up off the floor.

Hamilton said that Nuga had a great game and that they would “…all be expecting more of that.” Kruger even said that the mini outburst that Nuga had after their loss at San Francisco resulted from self-imposed guilt. He had a sense of feeling as though he had let his team down. However, Kruger added that it was a great moment that he nor his staff not only steered clear of intervening but even used it themselves to take accountability for whats was going on and do better.

Kruger was visibly more aggressive in his instruction at practice and even insisted that Hamilton get down in a proper defensive stance before a drill started. Nevertheless, there was a slight sense of urgency to practice Wednesday, and it indeed carried over into Wednesday’s game. Hopefully, it’s here to stay.

It would have to be free throw shooting if there were anything to criticize. The Rebels shot 5-15 from the charity stripe. The lowest moment from the line came when Hamilton was fouled on the three-point shot attempt and proceeded to miss all three free-throw attempts.

The Rebels’ scoring was led by the energized heroics of Nuga, who had 21 points, five rebounds, and eight assists. Hamilton was right behind Nuga with 18 points and five rebounds. Hamm only scored 7 points, but he also pulled down 14 rebounds, which proved pivotal as UNLV outrebounded the Redhawks 42-32. Jordan McCabe also dished out six assists. The Rebels followed Hamilton and Nuga’s lead and assisted one another on 24 of their 30 made shots, shooting 54.5%.

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



UNLV vs Seattle
Photo Credit: TQ/Franchise Sports Media

After 1,139 games, the three-point make streak continues, and once again, this game’s “STREAKER” is Michael Nuga. Nuga had a great game, his best game as a Rebel so far. Nuga hustled and got an offensive rebound, and off the second-chance opportunity, nailed the three-pointer.

Tonight’s “SWAGG-BAGG” goes to Royce Hamm Jr. He had an amazing and rare two-handed block shot that sparked a fast break that got the Rebel fans up and out of their seat.

Michael Nuga was the “LAS VEGAS HUSTLA” tonight. His energized play had him making and creating shots all over the floor. He was a matchup problem for the Seattle guards, and he took advantage of the moment.

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


The Rebels will return home to the Mandalay Bay’s Michelob Ultra Arena on Saturday at 12:00 PM to take on Hartford.

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-Che Jones – Franchise Sports Media

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