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4th game in 8 days challenge for weary UNLV

Updated January 24, 2022 - 5:46 am

In the past nine days, UNLV senior Bryce Hamilton has played 134 minutes of basketball. In less than 48 hours, he’ll probably play around 30 more.

“It’s tough. It’s a tough stretch for us, but we can’t complain,” the senior guard said. “Everybody else is going through it, so we just got to be able to adapt.”

Hamilton and the Rebels (11-7, 3-3 Mountain West) are in the middle of a brutal stretch of games as COVID-19 cancellations forced the Mountain West to cram several make-up games into the schedule. UNLV now stares down a span of four games in eight days, more akin to an NBA schedule than a college one.

“Of course we probably feel a little tired, but it’s all mental at the end of the day,” Hamilton said. “We’ve just got to stay strong, stay together and we’ll be fine”

Saturday’s win against San Jose State was the third game in the sequence. On Monday, UNLV will suit up again to visit San Diego State (10-4, 2-1) at Viejas Arena in Southern California. Coming off a recent COVID-19 outbreak, the Aztecs played their first game since Jan. 8 on Saturday.

UNLV coach Kevin Kruger said the team is doing everything it can to keep players fresh and healthy. The coaches encourage the players to go straight to the practice gym at Mendenhall Center to get treatment, and Kruger believes the team understands the importance of taking care of their bodies.

“It’s another quick turnaround,” he said. “It’s another one-day prep to go play at San Diego State, and they know that. So we encouraged them to get out of here, get their food and go get off their feet.”

Kruger and Hamilton are confident the Rebels will manage the workload well, but the team’s injuries are beginning to pile up. Junior Josh Baker has missed the past two games in concussion protocol. Senior Marvin Coleman hasn’t appeared since UNLV’s Jan 14 loss to Fresno State with a non-COVID sickness.

Then, minutes before tipoff Saturday, junior wing Donovan Williams — the team’s second-leading scorer — was ruled out. Kruger didn’t reveal his status for Monday or his injury, but during the team’s open media practice Tuesday, Williams was limited by back tightness. Down two starters and a bench contributor, Kruger praised the Rebels’ poise while dealing with the lineup changes.

The amount of basketball isn’t the only thing impacting the team, though. In the past six days, the team has flown 1,980 miles after playing at San Jose State and Air Force.

But no matter how many games they play, miles they fly or injuries they sustain, Hamilton is just grateful to be out there.

“We’re happy we’re still able to play,” he said.

Contact reporter Andy Yamashita at ayamashita@reviewjournal.com. Follow @ANYamashita on Twitter.

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