The Runnin’ Rebels defense dominated the Wyoming Cowboys in their first and only meeting this season, 64-57 Wednesday night.
“It feels great,” Hamilton said. “At the end of the day a win is what matters. Our guys stepped up big time, our younger players played this game for the seniors. Everyone stepped up at the right time. It was a great win for sure.”
Senior night kicked off as Bryce Hamilton, Royce Hamm Jr, and Mike Nuga were all recognized before the game with a special ceremony as fans packed the stands for a white out theme.
Hamm started the Rebels scoring, as he scored the first eight points of the game. Victor Iwuakor would go on to score the next four points to put the Rebels up 12-9.
The scarlet and gray would stretch its lead to as much as eight after going on a 6-0 run early in the first. A heavy defensive effort on both sides kept the scoring low, Wyoming shot 34.5% in the first in comparison to UNLV’s 32.3%.
Wyoming’s Drake Jeffries made a jump shot and free throw in the final minute of the first half to close the gap, and UNLV entered halftime with a 30-29 lead.
The seniors opened up the second half on a small scoring run as Hamm, Hamilton, and Nuga each put points on the board to keep UNLV’s lead.
Graham Ike would score on back-to-back possessions to tie the game at the first media timeout of the second half. The Cowboy’s would take their first lead of the game after a made layup by Hunter Maldonado.
Wyoming’s lead would only get to as big as three before Justin Webster would tie the game for the Rebels and from there, UNLV held the lead for the remaining 12 minutes.
The Rebels biggest lead came with 20 seconds left in the game when Jordan McCabe would knock down two free throws to stretch the lead to 10. Jeffries would make a three-pointer with seconds on the clock but UNLV would walk away with the 64-57 victory.
The Rebel’s defense held the Cowboys to just .86 points per possession which would make for Wyoming’s worst offensive performance of the season. The Runnin’ Rebels are now 13-0 when holding their opponent to less than 60 points on the season.
UNLV has now won 19 straight against Wyoming at home and improves its record to 29-3 against the Cowboys at the Thomas & Mack.
Hamm finished the game with 17 points and 10 rebounds, his seventh double-double of the season. Ham also held Wyoming’s leading scorer Graham Ike to just 6-of-19 on the floor.
“I was gonna let it flow,” Hamm said. “I came out aggressive and the basketball gods were going my way…I just want to thank my teammates and coaches for giving me the confidence to play my game and be me.”
Hamilton also added 15 points while Webster would help UNLV’s bench outscore Wyoming’s bench 21-14 as he added in 11 points. Donovan Williams recorded a career-high eight rebounds to help UNLV out-rebound Wyoming 44-36, improving its record to 17-0 this season when tallying more boards than its opponent.
The Runnin’ Rebels will hit the road to face the Lobos of New Mexico to finish off the regular season on Mar. 5 before returning home to compete in the 2022 Mountain West Conference Tournament which starts on Wednesday, Mar. 9.