Gilliam dominates Rebels triumph at Reno

RENO----All UNLV head basketball coach Jerry Tarkanian looks or when his team plays on the rod against Nevada-Reno is survival.

The top ranked Rebels did survive Saturday night with a 99-88 victory over the Wolf Pack, but UNLV's stigma in the Lawlor Events Center still remains.

"I don't know what it is," Tarkanian said afterward , "but I can't remember when we've come up here and played aggressively."

The victory, witnessed by the second-largest crowd ever in Lawlor (10,075) lifts UNLV's season record to 6-0, while Reno suffered its first etback at home this season and sits at 3-3.

Following a ho-hum first hall that saw the Rebels get burned while experimenting with traps off different zone defenses, UNLV quickly found its rhythm offensively at the outset of the second half and everything else fell into place.

"Once they started hitting their shots from the outside I think it got them jacked up," UNR head coach Sonny Allen said. "Up until then, I won't say that they were playing scared, but they were playing tentative. "

The Rebels constantly got the ball down low to 6-9 power forward Armon Gilliam, who finished with a game-high 32 points and 16 rebounds.

Gerald Paddio added 22 points (6 of 8 from three-point range) and Freddie Banks added 13.

David Willard came off the bench to score 10 points in 14 minutes and Gary Graham also scored 10.

The Wolf Pack was led by guard Boris King with 24 points. Mario Martin added 18 and 11 rebounds, while David Wood scored 14 and had 12 boards.

UNLV opend in a zone defense and began to press about rhree minutes into the contest.

UNR found some creases, however, as Martin scored seven straight points off two dunks and a layup.

"Our plan was to do some trapping, but for some reason we played slow," Tarkanian said. "I don't know why that is. "

Meanwhile, Allen mixed up his defensive schemes with a triangle-and-two approach that pressured the Rebels' wing players and played a zone underneath.

"That's the first time we've seen that kind of zone this year," Tarkanian said. "You've got to give Sonny a lot of credit."

"I thought we confused them a little," Allen said. "But they came out in the second half and hit some great shots."

The Rebels owned a 44-40 lead at halftime, thanks to Gilliam's 14 points and 11 points from Paddio.

But Paddio promptly hit three three-pointers after intermission to give UNLV a 59-46 advantage at the 16:12 mark.

The Rebels never trailed after the 1:34 mark of the first half and their biggest lead came at 85-68 with 4:15 remaining

too”, said Paddio, the junior college transfer who has converted 25 of 44 three-point field goals (56.8 percent) so far this season. Tarkanian’s plan from the outset was to underneath to Gilliam, who woften ould be left to go one-on-one against inexperienced Reno center Quentin Stephens.

“Armon’s a great shooter when he gets the ball down low,” said point guard Mark Wade, who finished with a career-high 15 assists. “But we kind of let them off the hook when we had ‘em down in the second half.”

“We always just come out and read what the situation is and take it from there,” said Gilliam, who has been hampered by a leg injury the entire week. “When Gerald and Mark (2 of 3 from three-point range) started hitting from the outside, it opened things up for me. I just hope they can keep shooting like that.”

The Rebels play host to UNR Wednesday night at the Thomas and Mack center.

Pepperdine visits Lawlor for a Monday night game.

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