LAS VEGAS (UNLVRebels.com) – The UNLV men’s basketball team, which has won four straight games, will resume Mountain West play with a two-game series vs. Utah State on Monday, January 25 and Wednesday, January 27 at the Thomas & Mack Center. Monday’s contest is scheduled for 6 p.m., while the series finale on Wednesday will tip at 8 p.m.
Because of COVID-19 issues, the Runnin’ Rebels went 33 days without a game before playing at Colorado State on January 7 for its first MW series of the season. However, since resuming play, UNLV has played a total of six games in a 15-day span heading into this week’s contests.
UNLV’s four-game win streak consists of victories over Saint Katherine (95-34), New Mexico (77-54), New Mexico again (53-46) and Benedictine Mesa (99-45). In the game against the Redhawks on Thursday, five Runnin’ Rebel players scored in double figures as Mbacke Diong had a career-high 22 points along with 11 rebounds for his second double-double of the season. David Jenkins Jr. scored 20 points, making 4 of 5 3-pointers, and Nick Blake, in his first career start, scored 15 points with a career-high seven assists and no turnovers. Devin Tillis and Moses Wood each added 11 points for UNLV.
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 Diong, and junior guards Marvin Coleman and Hamilton. It was announced on January 16 that Coleman would miss the rest of the season with a stress fracture in his right leg. 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 second in the MW at 20.3 ppg. He also leads in assists with 3.6 apg (5th in MW), steals with 1.4 spg (7th in MW) and field-goal percentage at .460 (8th in MW). Diong is the team’s rebounding leader (8.6 rpg, 4th in MW). Jenkins Jr., is also averaging in double figures in scoring with 15.4 ppg, is first in the MW in 3-pointers made (2.82 per game) and is second in 3-point percentage (.397).
Utah State is 12-4 overall this season and just suffered its first MW loss (9-1) on Thursday at home to Colorado State, which also ended an 11-game win streak. Neemias Queta leads the team in scoring and rebounding with 12.6 ppg and 9.3 rpg (2nd in MW). He shooting 60.7 percent from the field this season (1st in MW).
Monday’s game will be televised by CBS Sports Network with Joel Godett and Steve Wolf calling the action, while Wednesday’s contest will be on FS1 with Daron Sutton and Doug Gottlieb. 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 are available at UNLVRebels.com.