Wednesday, Dec. 24, 2008 | 2:07 a.m.
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Ryan Greene and Rob Miech discuss UNLV's 73-60 defeat of Southern Utah on Tuesday night at the Thomas & Mack Center, plus Wink Adams' injury mid-way through the first half. His departure thrust Kendall Wallace into expanded action, and the sophomore gunner responded. Plus, why René Rougeau is the team's unquestioned MVP to this point in the season. And, what needs to change before the Rebels take on Louisville on New Year's Eve.
Some thoughts ... from the Mack
Rob Miech: "Senior guard Wink Adams hitting the wood with an apparent abdominal injury in the first half makes me never want to touch a basketball again. Rupturing an Achilles’ tendon or tearing a knee ligament, or getting felled by what toppled Adams, is a horrible predicament.
"Adams said he has never felt such pain. Imagine what his mother, watching in Houston, must have experienced. She soothed him soon enough, though, and UNLV fans will await Wednesday’s MRI results, no doubt, with some nervousness.
"But he believes he will be fine. He even expects to play at Louisville. The Rebels won their fifth consecutive game Tuesday, against Southern Utah, but they should have. All that matters is that the test results come back negative and Adams heals quickly to resume his final collegiate season."
Ryan Greene: "Kendall Wallace's 15 points and healthy stat line were great for the Rebels, but he helped also lift the spirits inside the Thomas & Mack Center in general in the wake of Wink Adams going down. That shouldn't go overlooked.
"If Adams is out for any period of time, either he or Tre'Von Willis will need a game like that -- maybe both of them? -- to make up for everything you lose with Wink out of action. And that's a pretty hefty workload.
"The big men sort of disappeared, which was interesting. SUU's 6-foot-10 John Clifford was a nice player, and finished with 13 points and eight rebounds. Darris Santee and Brice Massamba both had a tough time getting going, and Joe Darger even flexed down later in the game to play the center spot. They'll both have to make a big splash in eight days when the task gets much taller against Louisville's Samardo Samuels, Terrence Williams and Earl Clark, who are the Cardinals' top three scorers and rebounders."
Inside the numbers
23: It's hard to undervalue the 23 minutes played by Kendall Wallace -- a season-high for the sophomore gunner. He hit three of his five 3-point attempts, but also rounded out his stat line nicely with two tough second half buckets from closer up, three rebounds and three assists. He filled Wink Adams' shoes admirably for the game's final 30 minutes. The Rebels had 29 points off the bench, compared to SUU's six.
0: There probably won't be an asterisk added to this game for Wink Adams, citing that his only scoreless contest as a Rebel was largely due to injury. But that was pretty insignificant, especially should the results of a Wednesday MRI show that Adams' injury is more than an abdominal strain. The fact that UNLV has eight days before it tips off at Louisville is pretty valuable.
8: Oscar Bellfield had eight assists to just two turnovers, which gives the freshman point guard 15 assists to two giveaways in the Rebels' last two games. His stranglehold on that starting spot is tightening, and Tre'Von Willis is still looking comfortable coming off the bench, to boot. But Bellfield added 11 points, too, after going scoreless against Arizona. He hit two early 3-pointers while UNLV was finding its offensive footing in the first half.
5: UNLV didn't hold a monstrous edge on Southern Utah on the glass (27-23), and it wasn't a game with too many rebound opportunities, since the Thunderbirds slowed things down and tried to maintain long possessions. But the Rebels allowed just five offensive rebounds to their foes.
16: Another ho-hum all-round stellar night from René Rougeau, the team's unquestioned MVP to this point in the season. He's truly earned these two days off. For a team that's been maddeningly inconsistent at times, he's been, well, consistent. He heads into the holiday mini-break with 16 points, seven rebounds, three blocked shots and two assists in the win.
Just in case you missed it ...
Scott Hoffman scored the Rebels' final two points of the night -- his first of the season, too -- on a baseline jumper in the game's final minute. The score still wasn't wide enough to where he could get five or six minutes late in the action, and Rob Ketchum was still kept from making his collegiate debut. But the crowd has cheered him on to hit a shot each time he's appeared in a game this season. He gave the student section one last reason to roar Tuesday.
Hopefully you didn't miss it ...
UNLV's bench continues to produce when it's needed the most, and Tuesday night was no different. Granted, SUU only played really six guys, but the Rebels brought 29 points off the pine, keyed by the efforts of Wallace and Willis. Also, Mo Rutledge shouldn't go overlooked. He only had two points and a board to his credit, but he was solid defensively in 17 minutes of run.
They said it
Lon Kruger on Kendall Wallace's contribution in Wink Adams' place: "Any time you take a go-to guy, a leading scorer off of a club, it's gonna change not only having him in there, but it's gonna change the depth, the rotation. Kendall Wallace came in tonight and took advantage of some opportunities there. Hit some shots, made some plays, did a good job."
Rene Rougeau on not shutting the door on SUU until late: "We heard about them with Florida, the game was close. We knew it was gonna be a close game. We just have to work on closing it out. We have a big lead like that, we just have to maintain it."
Kendall Wallace on his well-rounded effort: "It gives me a little more confidence when I'm doing a lot of other things on the floor, and they can't just focus on me shooting the ball. I'm able to do a lot more when they focus on me shooting the ball. I'm able to drive and find open people. It's definitely gonna help my confidence, and hopefully coach will have a little more confidence in me. I think it's a good thing for me, and I'm building some momentum."