Rebels enjoy Pacific cruise, romp 116-76

The only thing Jerry Tarkanian's crew didn't use against Pacific Thursday night was the two-handed set shot.

The UNLV coach dragged out every other offensive and defensive formation known to basketball en route to running the Tigers clean out of the Thomas and Mack Center 116-76 before an announced crowd of 17,685.

It was a night for the pressure man, a 2-1-2 zone press, variations of the amoeba, the alley-oop pass off the break, the high-low post, the three-pointer and anything else a basketball fan could think of.

Barry Young led the Rebels finishing in double figures with 20 points. The junior forward put his contacts in for the first time in four or five games and wound up hitting 6 of 9 from beyond the three-point stripe.

David Butler added 16 and also had eight rebounds and six assists. He had thoughts of a triple double during the half, but just didn't receive enough playing time to accomplish that goal.

"I came up a little short," Butler said. "I saw my numbers at the half, and thought I had a shot. I'm trying to pass the ball more, to improve on some different parts of my game, so I can be a great NBA player.

"Last year my teammates looked for me to score more. I don't have to do that as much because of Larry Johnson. They can't double-team us, because that leaves one of us open in the paint."

Johnson finished with 15 points and five rebounds in only 21 minutes on the floor. Stacey Augmon came in with 14 points and Moses Scurry rounded out the offensive assault with 12.

Point guard Greg Anthony had only five points, but he managed six assists and five steals. The ninth-ranked Rebels forced 29 turnovers, while dishing off 39 assists. Tarkanian believes this unselfish play is the main reason UNLV is 18-4 overall, and 11-1 in the Big West Conference.

Although New Mexico State beat UC Irvine 79-75 Thursday, the Aggies are trailing the Rebels by a half-game in the league chase. The two meet next Thursday in what could be one of the biggest games of the year.

"Our first group played extremely well," Tarkanian said. "We got into the passing lanes and played good defense. We executed our high-low offense well. David Butler made some incredible passes.

"Our 2-1-2 defense made me nervous. Our guys play it differently with our big guys up front, and our little guys in the back. I'm pleased with the way we're playing."

UNLV has won eight of its last nine. This was the first time the Tigers (12-9, 5-7) have yielded 100 points this season. It was the most points allowed since they lost to UNLV 117-78 on Jan. 19, 1984, and ties their worst conference loss (92-52), which occurred against UNLV on Feb. 16, 1984.

"Is this team capable of going to the Final Four?" Pacific head coach Bob Thomason repeated the question. "Well if they aren't, I'd hate to play the four teams that do."

Pacific managed only seven points in the opening 12 minutes of the second half. The Rebels came out of the locker room with their slam dunks on. They scored the first 10 points, eight of them on dunks off of the break.

UNLV shot 61 percent from the field and made 50 percent of its three-pointers. The Rebels had 12 three- pointers on the night, six from Young and three from Travis Bice.

"I wore my contacts tonight for the first time in four or five games," Young said. I don't know why I have been shooting so poorly (32 percent of his shots from the field and 29 percent of his three-pointers entering the league game). It has been frustrating.

"I got into a real groove, and my teammates kept giving me the ball. It was a lot of fun. I hope I can keep doing it for the rest of the year. "

So does Tarkanian. Once again, he had the luxury of resting his starters, while allowing the second team to see plenty of playing time. The group did not do well in the first half, but came out in the second and hit everything in sight.

"I want to apologize to Pacific for the final score," Tarkanian said. " We tried to hold it down, but our second team really shot the ball well. The first time they came in, they didn't guard anyone. I was worried at halftime."

He needn't have worried. The Rebels held the Tigers to only 33 percent from the field in the final 20 minutes, and outscored them 58-36. It was a good night for everyone and should be just what Tarkanian needed entering Saturday's nonconference game with Oklahoma State.

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