Thursday, Dec. 18, 2008 | 2:08 a.m.
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Ryan Greene and Rob Miech discuss UNLV's 78-66 victory over Santa Clara, an efficient, complete effort which leads perfectly into Saturday's showdown with Arizona. The guys break down Wink Adams busting his shooting slump, the inside presence of Brice Massamba and other tidbits from the Mack.
A day after walking through graduation ceremonies inside the Thomas & Mack Center, UNLV senior swingman Rene Rougeau continued working on his advanced hoops degree.
He continued to flourish all over the court, scoring 15 points, grabbing seven rebounds – six under his own basket – stealing four passes, giving out three assists and blocking a shot in 23 minutes.
For a second consecutive day, Rougeau heard applause inside the arena as UNLV improved to 9-2 with a 78-66 victory over Santa Clara.
“It felt great, even better seeing how we got the win tonight,” he said. “Walking in the commencement ceremonies was a dream come true. I held my composure when I shook UNLV president David Ashley’s hand.”
Rougeau said he felt like the half dozen family members who watched him graduate Tuesday were the loudest people in the building.
“But that’s what probably everyone says,” he said.
He was the only one who had that applause directed at him for a second consecutive day, though.
With 82 seconds left Wednesday night, Rougeau fielded an alley-oop pass from freshman point guard Oscar Bellfield and completed the dunk to give UNLV a 76-59 lead.
The crowd roared at the punctuation mark to the Rebels’ victory.
“Oscar gave me a good pass,” Rougeau said. “We made good eye contact. That’s the sign of a good point guard there, being able to see the whole court. He just gave me a great pass.”
Midway through the second half, Bellfield left the court in some discomfort.
Just cramps, Bellfield – who treats an asthma condition with a medicated inhaler – said afterward.
Trainer Dave Tomcheck fetched him some water and appeared to massage the right side of his neck and/or shoulder.
Bellfield checked back in four minutes later. His next offensive play was flipping that alley-oop lob to Rougeau.
“It was a real good win,” Bellfield said. “We showed great composure. We started off well, ‘D’ing’ up and hitting shots, hitting a lot of big shots … just getting our flow going for the next game.”
Dowdell goes down
Santa Clara senior center John Bryant said the Broncos lost a lot of their power when Ben Dowdell, a sophomore forward from Australia, left with a broken finger a bit more than two minutes into the second half.
Dowdell did not return.
“That’s our starting power forward and one of our best players on the defensive end,” Bryant said. “Without him it’s kind of tough.”
The staple shot
Those back-to-back jumpers, from just above the free-throw line, 14 seconds apart in the first half were not minor to UNLV senior guard Wink Adams.
“Those are the shots I take 80 to 100 times before every practice,” he said. “Those shots I can hit all day. They were given to me. I’m glad I could hit them.”
Adams hasn’t exactly been detrimental to his team. Over his past three games, he has 45 points, 11 rebounds, nine assists and only five turnovers.
“Tonight I shot the ball relaxed, like coach told me to do,” he said. “I shoot so many shots before and after practice … it’s slowly coming. Tonight was a good start.”
No harm, no foul
Santa Clara senior center John Bryant and UNLV freshman center Brice Massamba tangled a couple times Wednesday night.
Just part of the game, said Bryant.
“You’re always going to have a physical game down there,” he said. “It’s the way of the game. You’ll get fouls. You’ll give fouls. Whatever happens, happens. No hard feelings off the court.
“In between the lines, it’s a battle. Off the court … ”
Not just yet
Ahead 68-46 with 6:52 left, UNLV went cold for 3 1/2 minutes.
Joe Darger missed three 3-pointers. Wink Adams missed one. John Bryant of Santa Clara swatted an Adams shot, controlled it and got away from Adams with a nifty wrap-around dribble.
All of a sudden, the Broncos ripped off nine consecutive points and UNLV had to secure the victory.
With another shot or two, the Rebels could have achieved a rare goal so far this season – getting some semi-quality time for reserves like freshman DeShawn Mitchell.
“You want to keep that big lead and get younger guys in there, get them some more experience,” said Rougeau. “That’s what we look forward to.”
He’s eating it!
UNLV freshman center Brice Massamba left all that snow in Sweden to come to the desert, to escape the cold.
He went to Findlay College Prep, in Henderson, for his junior and senior high school years. Wednesday, he found himself back in snow as a winter storm draped Las Vegas in the white stuff.
Even better, he rode to the game with senior walk-on Rob Ketchum, who had never seen snow.
Ketchum was so enthralled, he pulled over. He put the car in park. He opened his door, slipped out, bent over, scooped up some snow and tasted it.
“He was all crazy,” Massamba said. “He was lickin’ it!”
Ketchum admitted as much in a tunnel after the game. Didn’t taste so good, he said.
It’s all over but the GQ cover-photo shoot.
Chace Stanback and Steve “Chopper” Jones had been tied, at three games apiece, for the Most Dapper Dresser honors among UNLV’s walk-ons, transfers and injured players.
The victor Wednesday won the season, hands down, no questions asked. Game, set and match to senior walk-on forward Rob Ketchum, who joined the team last season.
By shoring up his academic standing, with final fall-semester grades that were posted at 3 p.m. Tuesday, Ketchum went from street clothes to full uniform – No. 13 – for the first time.
That’s the dream attire of every “scout-team” player.
Before the game, Ketchum said he checked himself in a locker-room mirror once or twice. At halftime, he slipped on a long-sleeve undershirt for more warmth.
With his newfound status, the native of Sacramento, Calif., will also travel with the Rebels.
“It makes you feel more a part of the team,” he said. “It was a good experience.”
Hopefully, he said, he’ll be able to show the spiffy uniform to fans if and when he’s put into a game, likely the end of a big blowout victory.