Thursday, Feb. 19, 2009 | 4 a.m.
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Ryan Greene and Rob 'Wise Owl' Miech discuss the Rebels' 77-68 setback on Wednesday night in Laramie. The Cowboys' effort was sparked by the combination of a sluggish start from the Rebs, plus a memorable performance by the dance-happy Brandon Ewing. Plus, the guys take a look at Saturday's home contest with BYU.
Beyond the Sun
- Laramie Boomerang: ’Pokes run down Rebels
LARAMIE, Wyo. – The sign was right there to welcome the UNLV men's basketball squad on its way from the locker room to the floor at Wyoming's Arena-Auditorium on Wednesday night.
"Welcome to 7,220 feet," it read, followed by a simple question: "How's your oxygen?"
However, the Rebels got a good feel for just what kind of a difference the altitude can make earlier in the afternoon when they arrived for a team shootaround.
"You get winded just during the shootaround," UNLV senior guard Wink Adams said. "You're not even going that hard and you still feel it.
"You're playing a game up and down, (Wyoming's) Brandon Ewing does a great job of getting a team up and down the court, so whenever you play that over the course of minutes, it starts wearing your body down and the ball gets heavy. It wears your body down, and I think that's what happened tonight."
Adams, for one, has had mixed results in Laramie over his four years as a Rebel. Wednesday's 77-68 setback dropped him to 2-2 as a visitor in the Arena-Auditorium.
He said the thin air helped contribute to his team falling into some bad habits in the early minutes that plagued the Rebels earlier this season.
"We settled for a lot of threes at the beginning of the game instead of getting to the basket," he said, as his team finished the night 5-of-26 from 3-point range after missing its first 14 attempts. "Tonight, the air played a factor. I missed on occasion, Kendall (Wallace) missed, and when you see Joe (Darger) miss two, three in a row, you know it's definitely the air."
Adams was 1-for-5 from beyond the arc, while Darger was 1-for-8.
However, Adams' 3-pointer with 16:38 to play in the game extended UNLV's streak of consecutive games with a trey to 732.
A longer drought
Wallace was 0-for-2 from long distance, making him just 1-for-12 in the team's last five games.
That all comes on the heels of his best game as a Rebel -- a 15-point, 5-of-9 3-point performance in 27 minutes against Air Force on Jan. 31.
That performance in Colorado Springs made him 14-of-24 from 3-point land over a 6-game stretch, and also earned him a bump in his minutes off the bench and a bit of a rise in the regular rotation.
Against Wyoming, he was 0-for-4 from the floor, finishing with just one rebound to his credit in 15 minutes.
Stuck in the mud, again
The Rebels again were forced to try and atone for a slow start. It was evident right from go that Lon Kruger's club wasn't its typical energetic self.
A René Rougeau bucket put the Rebels up 2-0 early, but after Brandon Ewing tied it up, UNLV never led again.
"We've fought that at times on the year, hard to explain or understand, especially at this point in the season," Kruger said. "Can't afford to do that. When you do, you make it possible for the result that occurred tonight.
"It's just activity on the boards, loose balls. I thought Wyoming was much quicker to all that than we were and had a step up on us all night. We just never did win many of those battles."
Start your engines
It was announced Wednesday that UNLV coach Lon Kruger will serve as the Grand Marshal of next Saturday's NASCAR Nationwide Series Sam's Town 300 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
The Rebels are off next weekend before finishing the regular season the following week against Air Force at home on March 4 and at San Diego State on March 7.
Around the MWC
Utah became the first team in the Mountain West Conference to notch double-digit wins in league play, improving to 10-2 on Wednesday night with an 89-79 overtime triumph at Colorado State.
CSU's Marcus Walker got a shot at the potential game-winner as time expired with the game tied, 73-73. Instead, the Utes ran away in overtime, paced by 23 points and 14 rebounds from Luke Nevill and 27 points off the bench from Tyler Kepkay.
The only other game on the league slate Wednesday night was a 62-50 TCU triumph over Air Force in Fort Worth. The Horned Frogs improved to 5-7 in the league, while the Falcons remain winless at 0-12. TCU was led by 20 points, eight rebounds and five steals from Zvonko Buljan.
The Utes now lead the league race by a game-and-a-half over San Diego State (8-3), who plays at New Mexico (7-3) on Saturday.
Also at 7-3 is BYU, who visits 7-5 UNLV on Saturday night.
Free throws ...
By hitting 23 of its 44 shot attempts, Wyoming became just the second team this season to shoot better than 50 percent in a game against UNLV. The first to do so was TCU (56.6) on Jan. 10 ... Wyoming's 24 turnovers were the most by a UNLV opponent this season. The previous high was 22 by North Carolina A&T on Nov. 22 ... UNLV is now 2-4 this season on the road in the Mountain West ... The Cowboys are now 11-1 at home this season, their only loss being an 80-70 defeat at the hands of Utah on Feb. 7 ... Darris Santee, who practiced with the third-team blackshirts leading up to the Wyoming game, played only three minutes off the bench. Freshman Brice Massamba played four ... Wednesday's announced attendance was 4,703.