Nothing went right for the Runnin’ Rebels in their first road game of the season.
A 27% first-half shooting performance left UNLV trailing by 23 points at halftime and they could never make it close the rest of the way as they lost to SMU 83-64 Wednesday night.
The Runnin’ Rebels missed 24 of their 33 first-half shots and struggled to find any consistency on offense, which in turn impacted them on the other end of the floor.
“When you take an unexpected shot, it just doesn’t hurt that possession, it carries over to the defense with matchups, spacing, and getting set,” Kevin Kruger told reporters after the loss. “It just ended up costing us, not just points (on the offensive) end, but (the defensive) end too.
SMU’s first-half lead was as high as 25 points in the first half, with a 42-17 lead in the last few minutes before halftime. The Mustangs shot 59% from the field in the first half and knocked down six 3-pointers.
Early in the second half, SMU led by as much as 28 points, but UNLV managed to cut it as low as 14 points late in the second half.
Justin Webster scored all 12 of his points in the second half with four made 3-pointers. And UNLV had a much better shooting second half, making 51.7% of its shots from the field and making 7-of-14 3-pointers.
Bryce Hamilton only played 20 minutes in the game and scored 12 points on 5-of-12 shooting. Hamilton has been the main force offensively for UNLV this season, but he, along with the rest of his teammates, struggled to take efficient shots which led to the poor offensive performance.
“We’ve talked to a couple of the guys about what we want offensive possessions to look like. (Hamilton) understood it and he was good about it,” Kruger said. “We knew there were going to be some growing pains to it, but we’re going to start taking better looks.”
Kruger noted that he and his staff have to do a better job of making sure Hamilton’s looks are a product of quality offense and that it is in rhythm with what the other guys expect.
Royce Hamm Jr. led UNLV with 13 points on 5-of-11 shooting with 10 rebounds. Four different Mustangs were in double figures, led by Kendric Davis who had 18 points.
SMU limited UNLV to just two fast break points, while the Mustangs were able to pick up 11 points in transition off the struggling Runnin’ Rebel offense.
8-0 San Francisco is coming up for UNLV. Kruger said after the game that his team will “get after it” at the next practice to get ready for the Dons.
The Runnin’ Rebels will have to find consistency on offense from others besides Bryce Hamilton if they want to turn the corner and get a victory Saturday night against a very good San Francisco team.
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