UNLV men’s basketball fell short to the San Diego State Aztecs 65-55 in its Mountain West Conference home opener to kick off the new year.
“It was a tough defensive battle,” head coach Kevin Kruger said. “With our best defensive performance of the season, we would have loved to end up with a win and have a better flow offensively, but that’s what they do to you.”
“Our group, seeing that for the first time, is good for them. San Diego State has been doing that for a very long time and will end up winning games like this because of the way they defend.”
Bryce Hamilton made a jumper to get the Runnin’ Rebels offense going, as the Runnin’ Rebels opened the first half on a 10-6 run.
Off a defensive rebound, Micheal Nuga drove in for the tough layup. UNLV stretched their lead to 20-13 halfway through the first half.
The Runnin’ Rebels began to slack offensively, allowing the Aztecs to cut the lead to 20-19, but Hamilton pulled up from deep to sink the three-pointer with seven minutes left on the clock.
The Aztecs found offense momentum off of fast break points and took a 31-27 lead with three minutes left. Hamilton pushed the ball up the court with six seconds left and hit the three-pointer to close the first half with the Runnin’ Rebels trailing 35-32.
The Runnin’ Rebels allowed the Aztecs to shoot 31.6% and only hit 2-of-11 from deep in the first half.
After getting called for the flagrant foul, Hamilton made a catch and shot three to open the UNLV offense.
The scarlet and gray began to gain offensive momentum with Royce Hamm Jr. giving Hamilton a screen for a pick and roll. The Aztecs tried to double team Hamm Jr. but was still able to get the layup despite the defense.
The Aztecs stretched their lead 57-49 with less than three minutes left to play.
The Runnin’ Rebels had a total of four steals and shot a season-low of 29.7% from the field.
Donovan Williams led the Runnin’ Rebels with 16 points while Hamilton scored 15 points.
The Runnin’ Rebels will be traveling to Colorado to face the Air Force Academy Falcons on Jan. 8 at 7 p.m. This game can be watched on CBS Sports Network.