Sunday, Feb. 1, 2009 | midnight
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Ryan Greene and Rob Miech, fresh off of their whirlwind trip back from Colorado Springs, talk about UNLV's 59-38 triumph over Air Force on Saturday afternoon. The ever-evolving Rebels were paced by the zone-busting 3-point shooting of Joe Darger and Kendall Wallace, while Tre'Von Willis used their marksmanship to help build his way to 11 assists. Plus, the guys take a quick look ahead at Tuesday's home date with San Diego State.
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. –- Sophomore guard Tre'Von Willis was the first UNLV player this season to sport low-top sneakers for a game, busting out a pair of all-black retro Nikes.
He wanted to show the same support toward the American Cancer Society and Coaches vs. Cancer as Lon Kruger and his staff were on Saturday by wearing sneakers on the sidelines.
Coaches across the country took part in the awareness effort.
"I thought I should do something as a player to get involved with the Coaches vs. Cancer," Willis said.
He was very involved in the game, too, doling out a career-high 11 assists in a game in which he went 0-for-6 from the field.
“’Tre’ did a great job handling the rock and getting everyone in position,” said René Rougeau. “He didn’t score much, but his presence was felt driving. He’s done a great job the last few games.
“Guys are trying to play him harder, that makes it easier for other guys to get open shots.”
Senior power forward Joe Darger said Willis’s run, of 25 assists and only two turnovers in his past four games, is impressive.
“That’s what we need out of ‘Tre’ every night,” Darger said. “He’s a great player. Others have to help on him. If not, he’ll go off and have 20 points. It’s one of those things where you have to give something up to take something away. He’s one of our stars.”
When Joe Scioscia took off everything except his dark blue bikini-cut underwear, it rattled the Rebels.
Sophomore guard Tre’Von Willis went to the line with 17 minutes, 34 seconds left in the game, and Scioscia went to work.
He stripped behind the UNLV basket, in the first row of Clune Arena, and started to gyrate and frolic. Willis hit the free throw. But he missed the second.
During a timeout with 2:18 left, Scioscia, a junior from Pittsburgh majoring in humanities and philosophy at Air Force, explained his motivation.
“I’m just trying to get people into the game,” said Scioscia, 22. “I have a lot of good friends on the basketball team, and I want people to come out and support them.”
Clune, with a capacity of 5,858, is tiny by any standard. But it truly feels like a barn when only 4,020, which was Saturday’s attendance, come to watch.
The game resumed, and 22 seconds later DeShawn Mitchell stepped to the free-throw line for UNLV.
Scioscia stripped down to his skivvies, again, and went at it. Mitchell missed the front end of the one-and-one situation, and Air Force sped down the other way.
Scioscia was Air Force’s best defender Saturday.
UNLV stubbed its toes in its first two conference road games, against TCU and Colorado State.
After a slow start, it roared back to win at BYU. Saturday, the outcome wasn’t in doubt as the Rebels produced solid results in both halves.
“It’s very important,” coach Lon Kruger said. “I think guys understand that, as we approach the midway point of the conference, everyone is tough. If you approach any of them with any other mindset, you’re probably going to be disappointed in the result.”
Another one down
By scoring 22 points in a Jan. 21 victory at BYU, senior guard Wink Adams snapped a career-long funk at the Marriott Center.
He did the same with 13 points at Clune Arena on Saturday against Air Force.
Adams entered his fourth and final trip to Colorado Springs with 13 career points on the road against the Falcons on combined 6-of-31 shooting.
With a late 3-pointer, he finished Saturday's 59-38 victory with 13 points on 5-of-9 shooting.
UNLV jacked at least 30 3-pointers in a game Saturday for the fourth time this season. It went 12-for-30 from long range against Air Force.
It beat North Carolina A&T (11-for-33) and Arizona (14-for-31), but lost at TCU (15-for-34).
Willis is the first Rebel this season to record double-digit assists in a game. Curtis Terry last did that, with 11, against Colorado State on Feb. 9, 2008 ... Darger's 18 points included three baskets inside the 3-point arc. Coming into Saturday's game, he had only 10 of those all season. Also, his seven rebounds hiked his average in that category at 6.9 in seven conference games. In 14 non-conference tilts, he averaged only 3.7 ... Scott Hoffman's late 3-pointer was his first since his second career appearance as a Rebel, back on Dec. 18, 2006, against Norfolk State ... Air Force’s two offensive rebounds were the fewest UNLV has allowed to an opponent all season. The previous low was five by both UNR on Dec. 6 and Southern Utah on Dec. 23 … Rougeau went scoreless in a game for the first time since Dec. 29, 2007, against Nicholls State … UNLV committed fewer than 10 turnovers in consecutive games for the first time this season. It had nine against Utah and nine vs. Air Force. In fact, the Rebels have committed single-digit turnovers in three of their past four games –- it had eight against Wyoming … UNLV, San Diego State and Utah are knotted atop the league at 5-2. Next, at 4-3, are BYU, TCU and New Mexico. SDSU plays UNLV in the Thomas & Mack Center at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, and Utah plays at TCU on Wednesday.