The Runnin’ Rebels started their conference showdown against Utah State a little off their game, but managed to hold on until the last seconds to pull through with their fifth win in a row and a final score of 59-56.
Bryce Hamilton returned to the starting lineup, after suffering an ankle injury last Monday against New Mexico. Hamilton demonstrated his strength by making a game-high of four 3-pointers and a career-high of eight assists, while also collecting a career-high of five steals for UNLV.
UNLV made a total of 13 three-pointers compared to Utah State’s five. The Runnin’ Rebels shot 43.3% from beyond the arc, while the Aggies were held to 22.7%.
"It was a really hard fought game on both sides. Certainly a defensive battle down the stretch. We kind of bent... fortunately we didn't break and made just enough plays defensively,” Head Coach T.J. Otzelberger said. “Proud of our guys for finding a way to come out with a win. Even when our offense was kind of sputtering we showed that we can hang our hat on that defense to bring home a victory."
Sophomore Moses Wood earned his first start as a Runnin Rebel and he made sure to prove he deserved it. He managed to score all 10 of his points within the first 13 minutes of the game, keeping UNLV in the game in the first half.
Wood also added six rebounds and two assists to the scoreboard, and made a game-saving block in the last five seconds.
With the Aggies only needing a 3-pointer to tie the game, Steven Ashworth got the opportunity for a shot, but Wood was quickly rotated over and blocked it as the final seconds counted down.
"I knew they needed a three, so I knew (Neemias) Queta was going to be looking for somebody on the perimeter,” Wood said. “I saw (Ashworth) come on the side, and I said ‘I’m going to commit to this’. Got the block. Game over.”
UNLV will conclude their six-game homestand with the series finale against Utah State at the Thomas & Mack Center on Wednesday, January 27 at 8 p.m. The game will be televised on FS1 with the radio call available on ESPN Radio 1100 in Las Vegas.