Saturday, Dec. 20, 2008 | 11 p.m.
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Ryan Greene and Rob "Python" Miech (explanation inside) discuss UNLV's 79-64 trouncing of Arizona on Saturday afternoon at the Thomas & Mack Center. They talk about Wink Adams' offensive eruption, plus what else was memorable and forgettable as the Rebels improved to 10-2 on the season.
UNLV senior swingman Rene Rougeau continued to display his all-around skills in a 79-64 victory over Arizona on Saturday afternoon at the Thomas & Mack Center.
“Whatever I can,” he said. “The little things do matter. I’m happy it went well.”
Rougeau scored 12 points, on 6-for-12 shooting, and five of his team-high nine rebounds came under the UNLV basket.
He also had four steals, two assists and a career-best six blocked shots.
And, for the second time this season, he didn’t commit a turnover.
“All we can do is come out and play our best,” Rougeau said. “It’s taken us a while … 11, 12 games … to get going. We definitely feel like it’s turned around for the good for us.
“It’s just getting that chemistry down. Everyone knows what it takes and the defense is coming around for us. Everyone’s making plays.”
UNLV had 21 assists, the most it’s recorded since it had the same amount in a 19-point victory over TCU in the Mack on March 1, 2008.
Rougeau has averaged 12.8 points, 8.3 boards, 1.7 assists, 2.7 blocks and 2.2 steals over his past six games.
During a game-deciding 15-0 second-half run, Rougeau had one basket. Kendall Wallace sailed in to miss a layup, and Rougeau grabbed it on the right side and sank a little turn-around fling.
“Guys were on fire,” Rougeau said. “Wink (Adams) and Tre (Tre’Von Willis), they just didn’t seem like they were missing.
“I was going to the boards, and it seemed like every time I went there a shot was going in. If anything, it makes my job easy when they hit wide-open shots.”
For a few days, word was that Saturday’s atmosphere would rival that of the early 1990s, the glory days of Jerry Tarkanian and Final Fours and Larry and Stacey.
“But close,” said former UNLV center and Rebels booster Cliff Findlay.
“Very close,” said former UNLV athletic director Brad Rothermel, a special adviser to current A.D. Mike Hamrick. “Winning will make it happen.”
Nevada Sen. Harry Reid even attended, sitting two spots away from Findlay.
"I brought them luck," said Reid as he left the arena after watching every second of the action. "Usually, I watch on television from home."
The first Thomas & Mack Center crowd of 19,000 since 1991 didn’t exactly materialize.
Courtesy of Arizona’s appearance in the Las Vegas Bowl on Saturday night, plenty of Wildcats fans attended the hoops game and helped boost attendance to 16,667.
“There were a lot of U of A fans,” Rougeau said. “I was happy to hear our fans quiet them down. This is our house. We can’t have people getting too loud, over our fans. They definitely represented for us tonight.
“We played our hearts out for them. It was a great atmosphere. I don’t think there was an empty seat in the lower bowl. Everyone was really into the game. That first half was very intense, but the entire game was intense.”
With 13:27 left, Rebels senior guard Wink Adams hit a 3-pointer from the right side to boost UNLV’s lead to 50-36.
Fans in the Thomas & Mack Center exploded into a deafening cacophony of applause, cheers, yells and stomps.
“You can feel it,” Adams said. “It runs through your blood and the adrenaline gets going.”
He expanded on that special feeling.
“You want to come down and hit another one, get a stop on defense and get ’em even louder,” Adams said. “You want to constantly get them louder and louder, get stops, get momentum going, get everyone down on defense and diving on the floor.
“That’s the whole thing. Momentum.”
A little kid approached UNLV freshman guard Oscar Bellfield in a tunnel outside the Rebels’ locker room after the game and tentatively asked for an autograph.
He stammered a bit, finally asking if, uh, are you a Rebel?
“Yeah, I’m the one that missed the dunk,” said Bellfield, laughing a bit at himself.
In the first half, Bellfield zipped in for a dunk and nearly fell on his backside after hitting the rim flush with the ball.
Senior power forward Mo Rutledge, with a jammed index finger on his left (shooting) hand, was there to put the rebound in the basket.
A woman told Bellfield that he was fouled on the play.
“No,” he said politely, “it was clean.”
It was a tough day, shooting-wise, for Bellfield, who went 0-for-6 from the field. Still, he gave out a career-high seven assists and had three steals in 26 minutes.
“We thought the game was over,” he said of a key timeout that coach Lon Kruger called with 8 1/2 minutes left. “We should have kept playing hard. Coach got on us to take care of the ball. The game wasn’t over. Finish it.
“Those were words we needed to hear.”
Walk-on guard Steve “Chopper” Jones, a transfer from Arizona State, knows all about the Arizona Wildcats.
He proved it Friday morning, after practice, when he predicted that UNLV would have success if it kept Chase Budinger and Jordan Hill from going crazy, and limited guard Nic Wise to less than 20 points.
Wise had eight points on 4-for-12 shooting.
After the Rebels’ 15-point victory, Jones smiled widely. He didn’t have to say a thing.
Long-time Las Vegas resident, Valley High graduate and sure-fire Hall of Fame pitcher Greg Maddux sat nine rows behind the Arizona bench for the game. He has had UNLV season tickets for seven or eight seasons and, yes, he considers UNLV to be his adopted college. He took classes during one offseason and his wife, Kathy, is a UNLV graduate … nine seconds after entering the game in the first half, sophomore guard Kendall Wallace sank a 3-point shot. He canned another one 50 seconds later. Wallace’s great-uncle Riley, the former Hawaii coach, said it was no surprise; Kendall likes beating Arizona schools. He had a career-high 14 points against Northern Arizona this season and had nine against the Lumberjacks at the start of last season … “Make them earn it!” UNLV assistant coach Lew Hill demanded of the Rebels at practice Friday morning. The Rebels had been holding foes to 41.3 percent shooting, and Arizona only shot 39.7 percent … UNLV committed only eight turnovers, a season low it had two other times this season, against the Wildcats … UNLV plays Southern Utah at the Mack at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday in a game that will be televised on The Mtn.