Sunday, March 13, 1977 | midnight
TUSCON, Ariz.- Those renegade run-and-gun Rebels, who play no defense, can’t rebound, win a lot of games cause they play patsy teams at home and score a lot of points against Cal State Northridge are on their way to the West Regionals in Provo, for the third year in a row.
This time, though, UNLV didn’t breeze past San Diego State or Boise State in the sub-regional. This time, all Rebels did was tie an NCAA playoff record for most points in a game against the nation’s No. 2-ranked team, the University of San Francisco, in a shockingly one-sided 121-93 romp over the Dons at McKale Center at the University of Arizona.
The nation’s coach of the year was there. So was one of the best sophomores in the country. But, unlike, the program said, neither one came from USF. Bob Gaillard, just named Coach of he Year by both wire services, and 7-0 center Bill Cartwright just named second team All-American and Northern California Player of the Year, are on their way home for good with a 29-2 record, best in the nation but nothing to show for it.
Jerry Tarkanian, head coach of the Rebels, and 6-7 sophomore Reggie Theus, who sparked UNLV to an incredible 19-point first half lead, are on their way with the rest of UNLV’s team for a rematch with Western Athletic Conference champion Utah Thursday night at Brigham Young University.
The Utes, who handed UNLV (26-2) one of its losses in the fourth game of the season in Salt Lake, defeated St. John’s at McKale Center, 72-68, earlier Saturday to advance to the West Regional semifinals. The UNLV-Utah winner will meet the winner of the UCLA- Idaho State game next Saturday for the right to advance to the NCAA finals in Atlanta.
A subdued Gaillard said after the game, “They (UNLV) played almost a perfect basketball game. It’s to their credit. I’d like to congratulate them. They played as perfect a basketball game as I’ve ever seen. They are definite factor to get out of the West (Regional).”
Well, UNLV didn’t play perfect. It just seemed that way as the Rebels, winning their ninth straight, dominated the Dons in a way no one would have thought possible. And a boisterous crowd of nearly 4,000 Las Vegans who made the trip down roared their approval. The crowd of 13,451 and a regional television audience that covered the western half of the United States saw UNLV shoot 64 percent in the first half when it took a 63-44 lead and keep it up for most of the second half, building up its biggest lead, 31 points (97-66) with 9:24 remaining.
The Rebels finished up hitting 55 percent and, against a frontline of 6-8 James Hardy, Cartwright, 6-6 Marion Redmond and 6-6 Marlon Redmond and 6-6 Winford Boynes the smaller Rebs came away with a near draw on the boards (53-50). UNLV actually led in rebounds at the half (22-19) and led until late in the game when USF’s subs made up the difference.
And the defense, USF ended up with 95 points but that, as usual, didn’t tell the story. The Dons, with a team shooting percentage of 53 coming into the game, hit only 47 percent. UNLV’s pressure forced 32 turnovers, 17 coming on steals. The Rebels had only 18 turnovers.
It all added up to an improbable and edible rout over the am ranked No. 1 in the nation for most of the season before losing it’s last regular season game at Notre Dame.
All of the Rebels had a hand in the victory.
There was Theus coming in off the bench to hit 11 of 18 from the field, score 27 points, pull down a team-high eight rebounds, dish off a game-high of five assists and steal the ball three times in 23 minutes.
When he first cam in, the Dons had their biggest lead at 10-6. Theus scored four buckets in the next two minutes, three on long jumpers, as the Rebels jumped off a 12-4 spurt to take the lead for good, He had 18 at the half on eight of 12.
There was Glen Gondrezick, who not only took USF’s touted Hardy out of the game defensively (Hardy was only three of nine from the field and had only six rebounds) but on the other end scored 21 points, hitting eight of 12, passed off for four assists and stole the ball six times.
In UNLV’s 20-6 run in the final 4:53 of the first half that broke the game wide open, he took a pass after Theus had stolen the ball and cored on a rousing slam dunk and came back to steal the ball himself. He was flagrantly fouled while going in for another stuff shotwhich resulted in the Dons’ Allen Thompson being ejected. Momentarily stunned, Gondo left the game and Eddie Owens hit the two free throws that gave UNLV its biggest lead of the half, 61-42.
Then there was Sudden Sam Smith, who opened the game by hitting a 22-footer and finished with 14 points on five of seven from the field, four coming on his patented long bomb. Even more noteworthy, am took a charge on Cartwright in the first half. Cartwright later fouled Theus on a rebound play for his third personal with 8:49 left and was on the bench during the crucial late stages of the first stanza. Sam also combined with Theus to hold Boynes scoreless for the first 9:41 of the second half when UNLV built up its commanding lead. Boynes was all the Dons had in the first half, scoring 20 of his game-high 30 points.
There was Larry Moffett, who may have played his greatest game as a Rebel while scoring only four points and getting only four rebounds. Giving up three inches to Cartwright, he held him to 15 points and eight rebounds and even blocked two of his sots. Cartwright, a 57 percent shooter going in with a deadly outside show, didn’t score a field goal on a jump shot all night. Moffett also gave assistant coach Ralph Readout, who works with the centers, something to celebrate on his birthday when he scored on a fast break dunk over Cartwright in the first half.
There was also little Robert Smith, scoring 14 points (six of 12), leading the attack and pressuring the ball all over the court (he had three steals) NBC’s Player of the Game Award.
Then there was Owens, holding Redmond to six points in the first half and then coming out and scoring 15 himself in the second half to finish with 22 on eight of 12 and pull down seven rebounds. He had two follow shots right in a row in the second half as the Rebels inexorably upped their lead.
There was Lewis Brown, taking over for Moffett when he drew his fourth personal foul only seven seconds into the second half and promptly hitting two buckets.
Cartwright had just scored the first points of the half to make it a 17-point lead when Brown hit a short jumper over Cartwright from the side and, after Sam Smith drove in for a layup, tipping the ball in after Sam intercepted the ball to make it 69-46.
Finally, Tony Smith, playing on a painful ankle injury that limited his playing time to just 11 minutes, scoring two of his three field goals 12-0 run late in the first half that the Dons never recovered from. UNLV was ahead, 49-42 with 3:13 left when Sam Smith hit both ends of a one-and one. Tony then stole the ball and then scored on a jumper from the circle and he came right back on a fast, break to hit another long jumper straight up for a 13-point lead.