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UNLV stays perfect on the season

The UNLV Runnin’ Rebels keep the winning going as they reach 3-0 on the season after a 64-62 victory over visiting North Dakota State on Monday.

This is the first time since the 2017-18 season that the Rebels have started the season with a winning streak of three games or more. In that season, UNLV started 6-0 before suffering their first loss on the road against Northern Iowa.

Bryce Hamilton is leading the way for the Rebels. He’s currently averaging 17 points per game, including his 17 points scored against the Bison on Monday evening. Hamilton is also second on the team in assists, averaging two per game.

Newly added Rebel Royce Hamm Jr. is helping out in a huge way for UNLV in the rebounding department. He is averaging 13.7 rebounds per game this season. Hamm Jr. finished with 17 rebounds on Monday for the second time in three games this season. He also had 17 rebounds in the Rebels’ opening game against Gardner-Webb.

Even though his offensive starts aren’t looking too good through three games, Hamm’s rebounding ability has helped tremendously in replacing the loss of last year’s leading rebounder, who transferred out of UNLV.

UNLV’s first big tests will come this weekend. They will be playing in the Roman Main Event tournament being held at the T-Mobile Arena on Friday and Sunday nights.

Friday night’s matchup will be against the No. 4-ranked Michigan Wolverines. This will be the highest ranked opponents for the Rebels since they played the No. 4-ranked San Diego State Aztecs during the 2019-20 season. Unfortunately for UNLV, that game ended with a 71-67 loss.

Depending on Friday’s outcome, the Rebels will either play Arizona or Wichita State on Sunday night in the final round of the tournament.

Over Thanksgiving weekend, UNLV will once again play a top-ranked team. This time, they’ll be hosting the No. 2-ranked UCLA Bruins.

The Bruins already have a win over a top five team this season after they defeated No. 4-ranked Villanova in overtime. UCLA will be playing a second top-five team when they take on the No. 1-ranked Gonzaga University Bulldogs just days before they are set to play UNLV.

Even with these high-ranked opponents coming into Las Vegas, it should show us what UNLV is capable of and what we could be seeing as the season progresses.

The hope is that the Rebels will show signs of strong play and be able to play competitively for the Mountain West title this year.

The Runnin’ Rebels haven’t been able to get past the quarterfinals round in the Mountain West tournament since the 2013-14 season.

This year, with the addition of head coach Kevin Kruger, they’re hoping to right the ship and get back on track for the NCAA tournament.

Contact Sports Editor Danny Smyth at dsmyth@pvtimes.com.

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