RUNNIN’ REBELS DOMINATE IN 70-53 WIN OVER UTAH STATE

UNLV starts 2-0 in Mountain West play behind Bryce Hamilton’s game-high 20 points and Mbacke Diong’s double-double of 10 points and 14 rebounds
LAS VEGAS (UNLVRebels.com) – Led by sophomore guard Bryce Hamilton’s game-high 20 points and junior forward Mbacke Diong’s double-double of 10 points and 14 rebounds, the Runnin’ Rebels rung in the new year in style as they dominated Utah State 70-53 Wednesday night at the Thomas & Mack Center.
 
Junior guard Amauri Hardy added 14 points with six assists for UNLV (7-8, 2-0). The win was UNLV’s third straight and kept it undefeated in Mountain West play.
Utah State (13-3, 2-1) was led by Justin Bean’s double-double of 17 points and 11 rebounds. Sam Merrill was the only other Aggie player in double figures as he scored 10 points.
THE TURNING POINT: UNLV used a 10-0 run late in the first half to turn a 22-19 lead into a 32-19 advantage. The Runnin’ Rebels led 37-26 at the break. In the second half, UNLV increased its lead to as many as 24 points.
 
RUNNIN’ REBEL OF THE GAME: Hamilton scored 20 points for the second time this season. He was 9 of 11 from the field.
 
GETTING DEFENSIVE: UNLV limited Utah State to just 2 of 19 on 3-pointers (10.5 percent) and 17 of 52 overall from the field (32.7 percent). The Runnin’ Rebels held Utah State to its lowest point total of the season. It’s previous low was 64 points vs. BYU.
QUOTABLE: “I feel like we have been here before talking about how if we play with tremendous focus, effort, be the physical team, the team on the glass that we need to be, the team defensively that we need to be, that allows us to have some pace and flow offensively. I feel like tonight is what that needs to look like, and that is Runnin’ Rebel basketball – and that is what it needs to be every night. It is my job to work tirelessly to make sure that is what Runnin’ Rebel basketball becomes from this point forward. Really proud of our guys. Tremendous effort and focus.” – UNLV head coach T.J. Otzelberger.
 
NOTES: 
– UNLV is one of only three Mountain West teams still undefeated in conference play.
– UNLV outrebounded Utah State 41-29.
– UNLV blocked a season-high seven shots, with a season-high-tying four coming from Diong.
– UNLV led for 38:27 of the 40 minutes.
– UNLV led 38-26 in points in the paint and 29-11 in bench scoring
– UNLV was without senior guard Elijah Mitrou-Long for the sixth straight game because of a broken thumb.
– UNLV has made at least one 3-pointer in a NCAA-record 1,085 straight games.
 
NEXT FOR THE RUNNIN’ REBELS: UNLV will close out its homestand with Air Force on Saturday, Jan. 4 at 7 p.m. at the Thomas & Mack Center.
 
-UNLV-