UNLV went nearly 30 minutes without hitting a three. The streak was on the line.
But Caleb Grill stepped up and buried a deep three to extend UNLV’s streak to 1,118 games with a made three pointer.
UNLV has made a three in every single game since the three-point line was introduced in the 1986-87 season. The only other school that can share this claim is Princeton.
But at halftime against Air Force, UNLV was 0 of 9 from three. And UNLV fans, in a quick Twitter poll, chose the streak over a win.
UNLV was able to win and keep the streak alive. But the sentiment from fans stuck. The streak is more important than a win.
T.J. Otzelberger disagrees.
“I remember looking at half and seeing we are 0 for 9 and I never thought of the streak. Just thought we gotta play to win,” Otzelberger said. “I’m sure there are a lot of other folks watching the game saying they better not mess this streak up right here. I guess I just wasn’t one of them.”
While Otzelberger may not care about the streak during a game, his players do.
“We are really aware of it,” Bryce Hamilton said. “That won’t happen next time. Pretty sure we scared a lot of people.”
Fortunately for UNLV, they don’t have to decide between making a three and winning a game. Hitting threes is usually a good thing for a team trying to win. So UNLV will never have to chose between one or the other.
Plus this is a good three-point shooting team that shoots a lot of threes. 39.9 percent of UNLV’s points have come from three pointers this season. That is the 14th highest mark in the country.
But both Otzelberger and Hamilton showed an awareness for how important the streak is to the fanbase. And while neither one would say they prefer the streak over a win, the streak is more important.
UNLV does not have NCAA Tournament hopes. They aren’t even on the NIT bubble. No one is going to remember if a below .500 UNLV team loses to Air Force in February.
But everyone will remember the date the streak ends.
Ultimately the streak is fun. And personally the threat of the three-point streak ending is hilarious.
Just watch the final minutes of Vanderbilt’s loss to Tennessee last year. Vanderbilt had made a three in 1,080 straight games.
Fans were booing made Vanderbilt layups, simply because it wasn’t a three. That level of random entertainment dies if the streak ends. And I don’t want that to happen.
Until UNLV has some NCAA Tournament hopes, the streak will always take precedent over a meaningless win.