…And a happy New Year! We hope. The holiday season has not been kind to what used to be the hottest sports ticket in town — Runnin’ Rebels basketball.

As 2018 comes to an end, so does the non-conference portion of the UNLV basketball season. Thankfully. With a .500 record of 6-6, the men’s basketball team has already had its ups and downs. The latter of which coming most recently in Hawaii, at the Diamond Head Classic, where UNLV’s basketball team won just one of three, losing to two sub-par opponents in Hawaii.

The opening game was against host Hawaii. The Runnin’ Rebs found themselves, once again, locked in a tight contest. Trailing at the half, 28-26, UNLV blazed it’s way to a 47-point second half and continued to hustle on the defensive end of the court. In what was almost a true six-man rotation throughout the entirety of the game, only three Rebs came off the bench to secure the 14-point victory.

Amauri Hardy played 29 minutes off the bench scoring 11, while Bryce Hamilton played nine minutes with a bucket and Ben Coupet Jr. (WHERE ARE YOU TERVELL BECK?!) added five minutes without scoring. Not much more to talk about this game, except for Mbacke Diong’s extended absence since Shakur Juiston’s injury. But we’ll get to that later on, trust me…

Missing! Mbacke Diong

Next up for UNLV was Indiana State. Joel Ntambwe had himself a game, grabbing 15 boards while putting up 21 points, only to be outdone by Amauri Hardy’s 22. While it seemed to be a good game for the boys, the Rebels couldn’t keep pace with a solid Sycamores squad. Once again trailing at half, this time by 7, another second half outpouring totaling 51 wouldn’t be enough. Diong was held scoreless in 14 minutes of work, and Tervell Beck found himself plantingn roots on the bench. This might be a sign of things to come, as it looks like the big guys are struggling to find success (or even minutes) without the glue that is Juiston.

After failing to reach the finals of the tournament, the Runnin’ Rebels had to settle to play Bucknell in the third place game. I predicted that UNLV would win two out of three in paradise, but this dream turned into a nightmare, quickly. Let’s sum it up with a single tweet…

BUT WAIT!

“We have a Tervell Beck sighting! This is not a drill. Nunu Beck is in the game. He’s playing. It’s a Christmas miracle! Oh wait… he’s out there, playing center, with Noah Robotham, Bryce Hamilton, Trey Woodbury, and Nick Blair. Re-read that.”

That, my friends, summarizes the desperate measures UNLV dropped to in this game. Ten turnovers, seven assists combined, and a total of 97 points given up to Bucknell. The defense wasn’t there, missed layups (AND DUNKS!) combined with an abysmal 4-of-25 from three-point range gave UNLV the lowest of lows in being blown out by 25. And to cap it off, it now appears Coach Menzies is on the hot seat.

The Rebs come home to start conference play Wednesday, Jan. 2, against Colorado State. Hopefully the new year brings in new luck, and more consistency for this still young squad. Maybe now, more than ever, the team needs you. Show up early, wear red, and cheer loud. Coach has all but guaranteed a win and a better effort. Plus, all we need to do is win the conference tournament to get another banner in the building, right?