UNLV Basketball Recap: Runnin’ Rebels vs SMU


Runnin’ Rebels (2-5) | SMU Mustangs (5-0)


After falling behind early, UNLV‘s attempt at a comeback falls short against SMU, 72-68.


Sophomore guard Bryce Hamilton had perhaps his best game as a Runnin’ Rebel, scoring his career-high 18 points. He shot 54% (6-11) from the field and 66% (4-6) on three-point attempts. UNLV‘s leading scorer Amauri Hardy and junior forward Donnie Tillman were behind him with 13 points each. Junior forward Mbacke Diong was the final Rebel to score in double-figures with 10 points and grabbing a game-high 9 rebounds, just one rebound short of a double-double.


For the Mustangs, it was sophomore guard Kendric Davis who led the way for them with a game-high 21 points. He also grabbed  9 rebounds, falling just one rebound short of a double-double as well. Up next for head coach Tim Jankovich and his team is a home game on Wednesday, Nov. 27 against Hartford.


Photo Credit: Isaiah Torres

UNLV head coach TJ Otzelberger seemed frustrated and said to put the blame on him following the four-point loss Saturday night. “We’re done with moral victories,” said Otzelberger. “Our guys played hard. We didn’t play winning basketball when it came time to win, that’s on me.” When it came down to crunch time in the closing minutes of the game, the Runnin’ Rebels had various opportunities and failed to tie or take back the lead.

Their largest deficit was 13, but that was late in the first half. They were able to cut the deficit down to 10 by halftime. The entire second half saw UNLV constantly trying to chop off some of SMU‘s lead. Every time the Rebels would bring the game back to within one possession, they could not get that final stop on defense and the Mustangs would score again.

The closest UNLV got the game to was two points with 5:16 left. Then they did like Otzelberger said and did not “play winning basketball when it came to winning”. However, it was SMU who did step up in the clutch moments of a tight game and increased their lead all the way back up to nine with 1:53 left on the clock.


The Runnin’ Rebels had one last rally in them to at least tie the game up and take it to overtime. They went on a short 9-4 run to make the score 68-72 with 10 seconds left. In that span, they had two crucial steals that could have affected the outcome of this game. Unfortunately, both of those steals came on hustle plays where the UNLV players’ momentum carried them out of bounds immediately after touching the ball. Both plays ending up turnovers right back to the Mustangs.


While trying to break a full-court press, junior forward Ethan Chargois missed a wide-open layup, allowing for Hamilton to grab the rebound and push it up the court for the Rebels to have one last opportunity to at least make things interesting. Tillman then made a three-pointer at the buzzer to make the score 71-72. After the referees reviewed the shot, they determined that he did not get it off on time, therefore making the official final score 68-72. Despite knocking down the shot, it wouldn’t have mattered. They still would have lost the game had it counted. The shot only mattered to the sportsbooks.


UNLV will now have to try to end their two-game losing streak on Tuesday night when they play in their final game of the Southwestern Showdown against Jackson State. The game will take on Nov. 26 at 7 pm, inside the Thomas & Mack Arena.

Runnin’ Rebels vs SMU          Runnin’ Rebels vs SMU


Isaiah Torres

Twitter: @Isaiah_Torres24


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Runnin' Rebels vs SMU Photos

Photography by Terrance Quaites and Trisha LaCoste