Rebels romp to an easy victory over Ohio U.

Because of editing purposes let’s politely refer to UNLV’s trapping defense as “nasty.”

Following the Rebels’ 105-81 victory Friday night over Ohio University. Bobcats head coach Billy Hahn probably would prefer to use some expletives in his description.

UNLV’s defensive pressure against Ohio in the Thomas and Mack Center was superlative to say the least.

A crowd of 16,082 watched the Rebels harass the visitors into 24 turnovers during the first-round game of the Rebel Roundup tournament.

With the victory, 8-0 and top ranked UNLV now faces 4-3 Louisiana Tech for the tournament title at 9 p.m. Saturday.

Tech downed Duquesne 82-64 in the opening game Friday night.

Duquesne (4-2) battles Ohio (4-5) in the consolation game at 6:30 p.m.

A perfect indication of how well things were going for the Rebels could be found by looking at the wife of UNLV head coach Jerry Tarkanian.

Lois Tarkanian is nothing short of a nervous wreck during games, often closing her eyes and constantly rubbing her rosary beads until they nearly disintegrate in her hands.

But by the 10-minute mark of the first half, Lois was eased back in her chair and even managed a few smiles before intermission-----at least they looked like smiles.

“I thought we played great in the first half,” Jerry Tarkanian said. “I thought we were excellent. Our press defense really worked well.”

Freddie Banks paced UNLV’s balanced scoring with 22 points (17 in the first half).

Armon Gilliam added 20 points (16 in the first half). Jarvis Basnight added 15, Gary Graham 13 and Gerald Paddio had 12.

Mark Wade played just 19 minutes, but still had enough time to dish out 11 assists.

John Rhodes paced Ohio with 17 points.

The Rebels never trailed this one.

The Bobcats stayed close the first four minutes and trailed only 8-7.

UNLV then scored nine straight and eventually worked to its astounding 68-40 advantage at intermission.

The second half was nothing more than 20 minutes of exchanging baskets and fouls.

“We quit playing in the second half,” Tarkanian said. “We were horrible. We didn’t guard anybody. We were soft.

“I didn’t want to pour it on so I took the kids out of the press. I think our player got the impression coach was calling it off. It kind of backfired on us.”

“Las Vegas’ pressure defense had everything to do with the game,” Hahn said. “We didn’t handle it well and we dug ourselves into a hole.”

It marked the second straight game UNLV broke the 100-point barrier (a 115-83 victory over Nevada-Reno-Wednesday), but defense unquestionably took the spotlight for the Rebels.

In Friday’s opener, Louisiana Tech got 20 points from senior forward Louis Cook and shot 57 percent from the field to post an 82-64 victory over the Duquesne Dukes.

“We sure came a long way to play as bad as we did,” Duquesne head coach Jim Satalin said afterward. “I don’t know where we go from here, but we’ve got a lot of work to do.”

“I’m so disappointed right now I’m having a difficult time figuring out what the hell went wrong. IT seemed like they executed a lot better than we did. I think they shot better than we had anticipated.”

Louisiana Tech, which lost to Arkansas by 26 points earlier this season, sizzled from the floor throughout the entire contest and also converted 3 of 4 three-point attempts.

The Dukes, who have misfired most of the season, would up shooting 36.5 percent.

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