UNLV’s basketball team makes its home at the Thomas & Mack Center.
But Fresno State junior big man Orlando Robinson is from Las Vegas, too. And he sure seemed happy Friday night to be back in his hometown.
The Rebels could not contain Robinson and fell 73-68 to the Bulldogs in their third Mountain West game of the season. Robinson, who prepped at Centennial High School and played club basketball for the Las Vegas Knicks, had 24 points, 11 rebounds and two blocked shots as the epicenter of Fresno State’s offense.
Robinson is one of the best players in the Mountain West and was averaging 19.5 points and 8.3 rebounds and 1.5 blocks entering Friday’s game against UNLV (9-7, 1-2 Mountain West). Rebels coach Kevin Kruger said Thursday that Robinson was a prominent part of UNLV’s scouting report.
But that didn’t stop Robinson from establishing his presence at the beginning of the game with a personal 6-0 run — scoring via post-up, putback and transition dunk.
UNLV senior center Royce Hamm and junior forward Victory Iwuakor took turns guarding Robinson and had varying degrees of success, especially during the middle of the first half as UNLV built an 18-12 lead.
The Rebels never led by more than six points, though, and stalled offensively as Robinson reasserted his will by drawing fouls while he worked to establish position at the high and low posts. He had 16 points in the first half, converting 6 of 7 from the free-throw line as the Rebels shot 33 percent to face a 33-23 halftime deficit.
Hamm converted an old fashioned 3-point play and made two triples early in the second half, but Robinson made a three of his own and freed junior guard Isaiah Hill for a floater with a good ball screen and delivered a strike as the roller to fellow junior Anthony Holland in the corner to give the Bulldogs (12-4, 1-1) a 12-point lead.
The Rebels rallied late in the second half amid a flurry from senior wing Bryce Hamilton, who scored 17 of his team-high 24 in the second half. His game-tying triple rattled around the rim and popped out, forcing UNLV to foul in the final minute.
Hamm finished with 14 points and eight rebounds. Junior wing Donovan Williams added 15 points for UNLV and Holland scored 14 for Fresno State.
This is a developing story. Check back for updates.