No. 1 Rebels overcome Marymount

This was a night of bomb scares, near fights on the floor and brawls in the stands.

The up-tempo frenzy created by UNLV and Loyola Marymount Wednesday night at the Thomas and Mack Center left the 13,430 fans breathless by the end of the preseason NIT game, won by the top-ranked Rebels 102-91.

At game's end there were no handshakes, no congratulations between the western schools. In fact, a fight between the two teams almost broke out in the tunnel that left both squads pointing, shoving and shouting all the way to their dressing rooms.

There were no blows, but there was plenty of action on the court as the run-and-gun styles met in a near head-on collision. The Rebels survived thanks to a zone defense early in the second half and an intense man-to-man in the final moments which left Marymount angry and confused.

UNLV will meet California at 8:30 p.m. Friday in the Thomas and Mack, and if it's anything like this one, don't bring the women and children.

"I never felt comfortable in this game," UNLV Coach Jerry Tarkanian said. "They kept coming at us even when we had a big lead. I thought we were terrible defensively in the first half, but I thought our zone saved us in the first 10 minutes of the second half."

"You can't play defense unless you stop the ball, and our guards didn't do that in the first half. I have no gauge on how we were tonight. This was an unusual game."

Unusual wouldn't quite describe it adequately. Led by Anderson Hunt's barrage midway through the second half, UNLV climbed back from a 54-52 halftime deficit to a 76-73 advantage it would never relinquish.

Hunt finished with 26 points to lead all scorers. Larry Johnson overcame a slow first half to finish with 24 points and 16 rebounds, while Stacey Augmon added 18 points and 11 boards.

James Jones came through with 1 key points and eight rebounds of his own. His defensive play held Marymount's Hank Gathers to 18 points and 11 boards Jeff Fryer led the Lions with 23, while Bo Kimble added 21.

Kimble and Augmon continued their war on the court right through to the dressing room. Angry shouts could be heard throughout the area. Coaches and security broke it up before it got any worse.

Late in the first half a bomb threat occurred that left many people scrambling for the exits. After five minutes it proved to be a hoax, but it seemed to bother the lions who had the momentum at that time.

UNLV and Marymount wasted little time going to the basket in the first half. Early on, the Rebels transition game was set up with a variety of steals from everywhere on the court.

Augmon gave UNLV its biggest lead on an athletic dunk and two free throws, making it 23-11 with 13:56 left in the half. But from that point on, the Lions began to apply some running pressure of their own.

Marymount scored 10 unanswered points thanks to Gathers and Kimble. The Lions then surged into the lead with two three-pointers from Terrell Lowery and Fryer en route to taking a 36-27 advantage.

It was 40-34, Marymount, when the bomb threat took place. UNLV regained the lead thanks to Johnson, who finally decided to play some basketball. But it was short-lived as Marymount led 54-52 at the half.

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