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Hamilton’s scoring streak, UNLV’s win streak end against Utah State

The defense from Utah State caused serious problems for UNLV as the Aggies were able to even the season series in the two team’s most recent contest.


Utah State beat UNLV, 83-74 Wednesday, Jan. 27 from the Thomas & Mack Center to even the season series at one apiece.


“I thought we were the team that was more physical and played with more energy and enthusiasm on Monday but that wasn’t the case tonight,” head coach TJ Otzelberger said. “We’ve got to have the same team show up every night if we’re going to be successful at the level we want to be and unfortunately we fell short in that category tonight.”


The loss brings an end to a five-game win streak for the Runnin’ Rebels, their longest since February of last season.


“There’s no secret formula,” Otzelberger said. “To me, it’s the habits you have everyday. If you do things one and you only go as hard as you can, communicate and you’re physical and aggressive, that’s how you’re going to play.


“What you don’t want to be is a team that picks and chooses those things.”


UNLV is now 17-3 all-time at home against its Mountain West foe.


After six consecutive home games, the Rebels head to the road with a 6-7 overall record, 3-3 in the Mountain West.


They will be headed up north to face in-state rival Nevada – Reno.


“Just showing up and being ready to play,” junior guard David Jenkins Jr. said. “We didn’t do a good job getting mentality focused coming into this game. Every game moving forward no matter who the opponent is, we want to treat them like they’re the best team in the conference.


“I read a quote that [sophomore forward] Moses Wood said and he said ‘we’re one of the most dangerous teams in the Mountain West.’ Honestly, I believe that as well [but] we’re only that team when we’re focused.”


Both games are set for Sunday, Jan. 31 and Tuesday, Feb. 2.


Tip-off for the first meeting is scheduled for a 6:30 p.m. start.


In the early going, UNLV did a good job keeping Utah State leading scorer Neemias Queta from scoring.


Senior forward Cheikh Mbacke Diong forced Queta to start 0-for-4 from the field before scoring his first field goal when guarded by junior forward Edoardo Del Cadia.


Coming into the game, Queta led the Mountain West in field goal percentage.


Queta would find a rhythm later in the game and finished with 13 points, eight rebounds and two blocks.


“[The Aggies] are really disciplined,” Jenkins Jr. said. “You can tell they execute the game plan for the full 40 [minutes]. Even though we exploited it [their defense] a little bit on Monday, I didn’t think they made a lot of mistakes then.”


He also entered the game as the conference’s leading shot blocker.


All five Aggie starters scored in double figures.


On the other hand, UNLV leading scorer Bryce Hamilton had a rough go at things, finishing with 2 points on 1 -of-12 shooting from the field.


His first points of the game came with less than 10 minutes left in regulation.


“Unfortunately, with [Hamilton] hobbled tonight with that ankle, he wasn’t his normal self,” Otzelberger said. “I’d like to think that when [Hamilton] is at his best, this is a very uncharacteristic game so I think his ankle is certainly a major factor.”


Prior to this one, Hamilton had scored in double figures in 30 straight games for the Rebels.


He was the leading scorer in the conference, averaging 19.6 points per game during conference play.


It was the first time he was held under 10 points since being held scoreless when he played seven minutes against Robert Morris in December of 2019.


The team was, however, bolstered by Wood in his second consecutive start as a Rebel.


“[Wood] is coming, his confidence is growing,” Otzelberger said. “We’re expanding his role and what we’re looking for from him. I know defensively he gives us some additional rim protection and offensively, he allows us to space the floor more so we’re excited about the progress he’s making and hope that it continues because we’re going to continue to count on him as the season moves forward.”


Wood scored seven of the first 12 points for UNLV before finishing with 11 points on 3-of-5 from the floor with two made threes.


In the first half, he put together a sequence that featured a block on one end and an assist to Jenkins Jr. for three in the corner after leading the break.


Jenkins Jr. set a new season-high with 33 points on 12-of-21 from the field, including going 5-for-7 from three-point range.


“Offensively, we’ve got to have more of a balance attack,” Otzelberger said. “We haven’t been good at all this year when there’s been gaudy numbers from anybody. We need to kind of have everybody in the flow offensively.”


The former South Dakota State Jackrabbit has scored in double figures in three consecutive games after failing to do so in either game against New Mexico last week.


It also marked the first time he’s gone for at least 30 points since February of 2019.


As a team, UNLV shot 10-of-28 from beyond the arc after shooting 7-for-15 in the first half.


Turnovers really did the Rebels in, as the team committed 11 turnovers including three in the team’s first five possessions.


In addition, the team had difficulty executing after timeout plays committing two coming out of a timeout.


“Personally, I don’t think we did a good job of coming out focused,” Jenkins Jr. said. “I think we kind of just showed up. Obviously we beat them on Monday but we knew they were going to come out and be more physical and I just feel like we didn’t do a good job at coming focused the entire time.”


The mistakes ended up being too much for the Rebels to overcome as the Aggies built a lead as large as 14 points in the second half, their largest of the game.


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