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    The Rebel HD-2

Basketball

Running Rebels Outlast Bulldogs In Opener

todayNovember 12, 2021 8

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By: Matthew Raftery
Las Vegas, Nevada- The UNLV Runnin’ Rebels kicked off their 2021-22 season on Wednesday with a 64-58 victory over the Gardner Webb Bulldogs inside the Thomas & Mack Center. Wednesday night marked a lot of firsts for UNLV as it was the first game for Kevin Kruger as the Head Coach of the Runnin’ Rebels. It was also the first home game with fans in attendance since February 26, 2020. As announced by the UNLV Athletic Department earlier in the week, fans were permitted to enter the game as long as they show proof of Covid-19 vaccination.

The first half saw a story of both defenses coming to play early and often. Neither team was able to establish much of a sustainable offense. UNLV tried to find their way on offense via the three-point shot but found little success as they would only knock down a small handful of three-pointers. With the low-scoring contest in the first half, UNLV took a 27-24 lead into the half.

The second half saw an uptick in the scoring column as both teams would try to push the pace and find those additional fastbreak opportunities. Much like in the first half, the Rebels defense was the story in the second half as Bryce Hamilton, Royce Hamm Jr., and Donovan Williams all came up with massive defensive stops to set the Rebel offense up for success. UNLV knocked down some huge three-pointers and layups late in the second half to put the Bulldogs away.

Royce Hamm Jr finished his first game with UNLV with 18 points and 17 rebounds while Bryce Hamilton led all Rebel scorers with 22 points in the win.

First year head coach Kevin Kruger said after that game, “When we go back and watch the film, we’ll be really encouraged with how much better we can get defensively. Offensively, of course we’ll take this one as a staff since we didn’t put as much emphasis on the offensive side of the ball until recently because we felt we could make an imprint on this team defensively.” Kruger also noted how happy he was to have a guy like Royce Hamm Jr. because of how excited he gets to see his teammates do well.

Bryce Hamilton also spoke highly of Hamm saying, “He’s one of the leaders of our team.” Hamilton also was happy to see fans back in the Thomas & Mack after a whole season of playing their home games in front of empty red seats. The Runnin’ Rebels continue their homestand on Saturday as they will welcome in the University of California Golden Bears. The game starts at 5PM Pacific and fans are able to find tickets at UNLVTickets.com

Written by: Ashton Ridley

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