UNLV Basketball strives to be relevant in the crowded and competitive Las Vegas sports market; Runnin’ Rebels enjoy a 64-57 win over Wyoming on senior night Wednesday


Story by Alan Snel Photos by J. Tyge O’Donnell

They’re older than Vegas Golden Knights fans, those UNLV basketball fans who can recite details of a Larry Johnson hoop drive or Freddie Banks jump shots from literally decades ago. .

The VGK game has a lot of techno whiz bang at the T-Mobile Arena and probably outperforms the Runnin’ Rebels by a three-to-one margin.

UNLV hoops games are far less expensive to attend than VGK games, and the men’s basketball team is slowly gaining relevance as first-year coach Kevin Kruger stabilizes a program that has endured a ride of Rice-to-Beard-to-Menzies-to-Otzelberger-to-Kruger coaches.

UNLV Hoops Coach with Kevin Kruger

While VGK is the nouveau riche Summerlin, UNLV is an old Vegas neighborhood trying to give its rebels some semblance of national relevance.

They came out as UNLV senior Wednesday night as two of Mountain West’s top five teams — UNLV and Wyoming — squared off at the Thomas and Mack Center.

When Wyoming comes to The Mack, I always get a kick from a great Cowboys player by the name of Hunter Thompson, who haunted the UNLV team in a kind of fear and loathing with three-point shots in first half.

After UNLV limited Wyoming to just 10 points in the first 12 minutes of the first half, the Cowboys trailed by just one point at the half, 30-29.

The Rebels took control of the game in the second half and ended their home schedule with a 64-57 win over Wyoming.

UNLV is 18-12 and ends the regular season with a road game against New Mexico on Saturday. Wyoming is 23-7.

We talked after the Boise State game that when we won, defense was the calling card. That’s what we did well. Holding opponents in the 50s and at a lower shooting and rebounding percentage and I don’t think they could have taken that message after watching the movie and implemented a change better than they did this evening. These guys aren’t easy to guard and it’s not easy to play defense in the position. When you have several guys who are as comfortable with their backs to the basket as Wyoming is, all you can do is compete and fight every game and I thought we did that tonight. – UNLV head coach Kevin Kruger

UNLV senior Bryce Hamilton struggled to shoot 3-for-15 for 15 points, but Royce Hamm, Jr. led UNLV with 17 points while Justin Webster came off the bench for a 5-for-1 shot. 7 to participate with 11 points.

UNLV shot 21 for 55 (38%), while Wyoming was 21 for 61 (34%).

Wyoming was led by Hunter Maldonado with 22 points.


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