REBELS BASKETBALL:

Cal hands UNLV a beating in 18-point loss

Rebels’ record no longer unblemished after 73-55 loss at the Mack

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Sam Morris

UNLV forward Joe Darger puts up a 3-point shot over Cal guard Nikola Knezevic during the first half Friday at the Thomas & Mack Center.

Bears Take It to Rebels

Cold shooting by UNLV helped California beat the Rebels 73-55 Friday night in the semifinals of the Global Sports Classic.

UNLV vs. California

Brice Massamba of UNLV forces a shot up over Max Zhang of California Friday at the Thomas & Mack Center. Launch slideshow »
The Rebel Room

CAL POSTGAME: Shooting woes spring back

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Ryan Greene and Rob Miech talk about UNLV's 73-55 loss to Cal in the Global Sports Classic on Friday night, as the the Rebels dropped their first game of the season thanks to 19-of-64 shooting.

California brought the best 3-point shooting team in the country into the Thomas & Mack Center on Friday night and treated it like it was its own gym.

UNLV watched the Golden Bears sink five of their first six shots from beyond the arc, and Cal (5-0) cruised to a 73-55 victory in the Global Sports Classic before a crowd of 13,830.

The Rebels (5-1) play Cincinnati (4-1) today at 5 p.m. in the final round of the tournament, and they are fortunate to play so soon after getting tattooed in their own arena by the Bears.

“When you get popped like that,” said fifth-year UNLV coach Lon Kruger, “you realize you have a lot of work to do and a long way to go.”

The defeat ended the Rebels’ 19-game winning streak at the Mack and was one of the worst home beatings in the Kruger era.

The worst was a 20-point defeat to Louisville last season. The Rebels play the Cardinals in Freedom Hall on New Year’s Eve.

That might not be the best way to jump into 2009.

Was Friday night embarrassing? Yeah, said UNLV senior forward Rene Rougeau, without a doubt, and disappointing.

“We couldn’t hit any shots the whole game,” Rougeau said. “When you’re not hitting shots, it’s tough … especially when the other team is hitting.”

The chatter in the Rebels’ locker room, he said, was about the Bearcats.

“All we can do is try to take it out on our (next) opponent,” Rougeau said.

Cal came into Las Vegas hitting 58.8 percent of its 3-point attempts, and it blistered the Rebels by sinking seven of its 10 bombs.

“Well, we can shoot the ball,” said Mike Montgomery, the first-year Bears coach and former longtime Stanford boss whose stint running the Golden State Warriors didn’t go so well.

“This team can score. Their pressure bothered us, but we didn’t panic. We almost did, but not quite. We shot it well and I hope we can keep it up. It’s what we do best.”

If not for some action in the final two minutes, UNLV wouldn’t have had anyone score in double figures.

But senior guard Wink Adams (who finished with 10 points) sliced in for a layup and freshman guard Oscar Bellfield (who had 10) drilled a 3-point shot at the end.

“It’s a matter of getting stops on defense,” said UNLV senior forward Joe Darger. “A lot of times, they lead to easy buckets on our end. We didn’t get stops tonight and didn’t execute our offense well.

“They gave us a whooping.”

UNLV shot a season-low 29.7 percent from the field because the Golden Bears were the aggressors on defense all evening, and Darger was at the top of Montgomery’s priority list.

Darger was 1-for-5 from long range. He’s 2-for-10 in his past two games after hitting six of 11 3-point attempts in a 13-point victory over North Carolina A&T.

“They like to roll their shooters out on pick-and-rolls,” Montgomery said. “They try to get help with guys who can shoot, and they kick it to the shooter. It’s an NBA thing.

“We didn’t want Darger to get open looks (on those). We wanted to stay on him so help came from somewhere else, the weak side. I thought we did well.”

Still, Cal almost did panic when it had a 54-34 lead.

Darger missed an ugly 3-point attempt and Kendall Wallace air-balled a 3-point shot. In between those ugly possessions, the Rebels managed to score seven consecutive points with their crowd roaring.

Junior forward Jamal Boykin converted a strong layin for Cal and junior center Jordan Wilkes sank a free throw, then UNLV had another 7-0 run.

But it could have been so much more.

Adams missed a 3-pointer and a turnaround jumper, Darger got called for a charge and the crowd became livid when Rougeau was hit with a blocking foul.

Boykin then kick-started the Bears with a driving layup and hit the free throw when Rougeau was whistled for interfering with him, and Cal had a 60-48 lead.

“We can’t let the refs get the best of us,” Rougeau said. “(They) made some tough calls, but we still have to play through that and keep our composure.”

The frustration of the night was capped off by Cal’s physical play under the boards, where it had a 50-34 advantage on UNLV.

“We did a poor job of executing,” Darger said. “We had a poor shooting night against a good team that played well. It didn’t go our way tonight.”

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  1. Unlucky shooting last night, too bad. Need to learn some lessons and move on quickly. Lets play better today against Cinncy and pull out another win.

  2. Ahh, Sufferin... happy holidays to you, too.

  3. Rebels will learn from this loss and move on. I don't think Coach Kruger wants big name recruits. He wants solid basketball players that will buy into his system. Im sure you will remember that Bill Bayno had a few NBA caliber recruits when he was here. Remember how that turned out?

  4. Didn't turn out too well, did it tom ... a loss was imminent, they way they'd been playing -- no, shooting poorly -- lately. Cal was just unconscious early on and had a great scheme on defense. Losses are a good thing when you learn from it and get better -- plus, it's November. Overreacting isn't a good thing ...
    Kruger gets a certain type of player, two-star or five-star or 100-star ratings be damned. He never recruited like that to begin with. It's about defense-first and being a solid teammate.

  5. My birthday was Nov. 16 and when I blew out my candles I wished that Rob, Ryan and Ron would immediately remove any comment posted by the anti-christ of UNLV athletics (Sufferin'). Yeah, yeah, I know, first ammendment. The funny thing about sucmystach's comments is that they are always, always slanted toward the negative. Which, ironically, brings out the worst in me. For example, in his latest statistical idiocy, he doesn't mention two important things:

    1. We've only lost 3 of those games mentioned after Kruger got most of his players in after 06.

    2. Where the hell are the post season games! Does he think that tournament wins don't count? But he doesn't want you to see that, cuz that would point out progress and that Lon is turning the program around, if he hasn't already.

    ONE GAME! ONE GAME! And everyone panics! We got killed in Arizona two years ago, turned it around and went to the sweet sixteen. That was an away game you say? Last year we got beat even worse by Louisville at home, still we got to the tourny and won a game. This is Lon Kruger! He'll work it out, he always does.

  6. I forgot to mention, sufferin' also leaves out that UTEP will be a top 50 rpi team by the end of the year and possibly by Monday with their crash course of playing good teams this week. Also I did some research and his stats that he posted were end of the year rpi rankings. Not what they were rated at the time we played them.

  7. I knew the wake-up loss was coming, but I didn't think it would happen like that, and at home for that matter.
    To back up what FastCam said, it reminds me of UCSB two years ago at home (one of just seven losses that season). In the end the Rebels did great when it counted. If you're a true loyalist to the program, you have to take the good with the bad.
    On another note, hopefully these guys begin to finish at the rim consistently & emphatically.

  8. I just don't see anyone on the team with finishing skills except for DeShawn. Wink, Tre, Oscar, and Darris can all score off of drives but nobody has that above-the-rim athleticism besides Mitchell on this squad. Watch Cal hit about 4 or 5 alley oops while we're struggling to hit bunnies and double clutch lay ups. This team needs a slasher who will try to flush things in the worst way. But that's not even this offense's worst problem, that is that we have a very pro-style offense but without the skill players to make someone pay for things like overplaying the high pick and roll.

    Mark my words: everyone is going to overplay the high pick and roll just like Cal and NCA&T did against us until we show that we can attack the basket off the pick. Either that big has to roll hard to the rim and have the guard feed him or we're going to see exactly what we've been seeing for the last 2 home games.

    As a big on the pick and roll play if your man shows high on the double you HAVE to roll hard to the rim. Our bigs try to reset the pick in the middle of the double team which is the offensive equivalent of running into a wall again and again. It shouldn't be too hard a fix, but it's something that needs to be addressed ASAP.

    Go Rebels!

  9. great points couev... touche... that's the point of the pick-and-roll, you have got to make them pay with those hard drives to the hoop. Long way to go, though. And people who panic need to just take a deep breath. RPI is important, obviously. But it won't matter what your RPI is when you roll over BYU in the MWC tourney final to get to the NCAAs. That's the point about playing your best ball at the end. Back on the road for two this week folks, should be interesting.