After 33 days between games, including a program pause because of COVID-19 issues, the UNLV men’s basketball team is set to return to action and begin conference play at Colorado State on Jan. 7.
The two-game series will conclude on Jan. 9. Thursday’s game is scheduled for 5 p.m. PT, while Saturday’s will be at 1 p.m. PT.
The Runnin’ Rebels have not played a game since Dec. 5, when they won at Big 12 Conference-member Kansas State for their first victory of the season. UNLV’s subsequent scheduled games vs. Eastern Washington and Pepperdine were canceled and its series’ with Wyoming and San Diego State were postponed.
In the win against the Wildcats, junior guard David Jenkins Jr. made seven 3-pointers and scored a season-high 25 points, while junior guard Bryce Hamilton added 18 with team-highs of eight rebounds and six assists (career high), and sophomore guard Caleb Grill contributed 12 points.
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The trio combined to score 55 of UNLV’s 68 total points on 22 of 40 shooting, including 11 of 23 on 3-pointers.
Coming off a tie for second place in the Mountain West standings last season, UNLV has an entirely new look this year as 10 of its 13 scholarship players had yet to play in a game for the Runnin’ Rebels as the 2020-21 season began.
UNLV’s returners include senior forward Mbacke Diong, and junior guards Marvin Coleman and Hamilton. Other returners from last year’s roster include Jenkins Jr., a transfer, sophomore transfer forward Moses Wood, and walk-on junior guard Trey Hurlburt. Of the nine newcomers added to this year’s roster, seven are freshmen.
Hamilton was the team’s leading scorer last season. The Runnin’ Rebels’ first First-Team All-Mountain West recipient in seven seasons, he averaged 16.0 points per game as a sophomore. Diong led UNLV in rebounding at 7.9 per contest as a junior.
Hamilton was also named a Preseason All-MW honoree in November, while Jenkins Jr. was selected as the league’s Preseason Newcomer of the Year and freshman guard Nick Blake was named the conference’s Preseason Freshman of the Year.
Hamilton is the team’s leading scorer this season and is also tops in the MW at 20.8 ppg. He also leads the team and is fifth in the league in assists at 4.0 apg, and is the team’s rebounding leader (6.2). Grill, a transfer from Iowa State, is also averaging in double figures in scoring with 13.6 ppg, as is Jenkins Jr. with 13.2 ppg.
CSU is coming off a 20-12 overall record, including 11-7 (T-5th) in the MW last season. The Rams are 6-2 overall this season and 3-1 in MW play and are coming off a split at San Diego State.
Thursday’s game will be televised on CBS Sports Network with Dave Ryan and Bob Wenzel calling the action, while Saturday’s will be on FS1 with Alex Faust and Jess Settles.
Jon Sandler and former Runnin’ Rebel Curtis Terry will handle the UNLV radio call, which may be heard live on ESPN Radio 1100 in Las Vegas.
All streaming links and live stats will be available here.