RON KANTOWSKI:

Sounds of victory sweet for UNLV fans

Rebels roll up second season win against BYU as packed house watches

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Justin M. Bowen

UNLV fans go wild after the win as UNLV took on BYU in the Thomas & Mack Center Saturday night. It was their second meeting of the season with UNLV pulling out the win 75-74, making it a sweep on the season against the Cougars.

Clawing Back

After a devastating loss in Laramie, the Rebels clawed back into the thick of the Mountain West Conference standings by beating the Cougars, 75-74, Saturday night. Wink Adams scored a game-high 22 points to lead UNLV to its 20th win of the season.

UNLV edges out BYU

Wink Adams takes it up against BYU at the Thomas & Mack Center on Feb. 21, 2009. UNLV pulled off the season sweep of the Cougars with a 75-74 win. Launch slideshow »
The Rebel Room

BYU POSTGAME: Bench/crowd gets it going

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Ryan Greene and Rob 'The Wise Owl' Miech discuss UNLV's slim 75-74 victory over BYU on Saturday night at the Mack, fueled by the super-sub efforts of Kendall Wallace and Mo Rutledge, plus the Rebels' largest home crowd since 1993. Also, an unfriendly welcome for Mrs. Cummard and where the up-and-down Rebels go from here.

Box score

Beyond the Sun

The best victories are the ones that ring in your ears on the way home.

As sweet as beating BYU and sweeping the season series against the vaunted Cougars was, doing it in front of the first sellout crowd at the Thomas & Mack Center since 1993 made it downright memorable.

And loud.

With the raucous throng of 18,523 giving players from both sides a bad case of tinnitus, the Rebels beat the Mountain West's second-best team 75-74 Saturday night. The only reason it was that close is because the guys in the white shirts continued shooting free throws like Shaquille O'Neal on Valium during the final two minutes.

The last time the Rebels played a basketball game with a backside in every seat at the T&M was on Jan. 23, 1993. The opponent was Georgetown. I was at that game, but for some reason I don't remember the details. Maybe it was because Rollie Massimino was the Rebels' coach. (UNLV won 96-80, which means The Hoyatollah -- Georgetown coach John Thompson -- probably glowered at somebody after the game.)

I think I will probably remember this one long after I remove the cotton from my ears.

For starters, although it was a well-played game, it also was a weird game.

At halftime, the Rebels led 23-21. Then the 1958-59 Nevada Southern basketball team came onto the floor where it took a bow during a special ceremony and showed both teams how to throw the basketball in the peach basket.

Actually, tight defense probably was more responsible than errant shooting for the satin shorts era halftime score. The Rebels made eight field goals in 27 tries during the first 20 minutes (29 percent) while the Cougars hit only 10 of 31 (32 percent).

In the second half, it was just the opposite. The Rebels stashed 16 of 27 for 59 percent while the Cougars knocked down 20 of 33 for 61 percent.

Weird.

"To see it flip almost totally in the second half ... it's kind of rare to see two different extremes, style-wise," Rebels coach Lon Kruger said.

It also was kind of rare to see two Rebels virtually take the game over for minutes at a time in the second half. Well, it wasn't that rare to see Wink Adams do it. The UNLV shooting guard sank a free throw, a basket and two 3-pointers in a personal 9-0 run late in the second half that put the Rebels into try-to-hit-a-one-and-one-and-put-the-other-team-away mode.

Before that, reserve guard Kendall Wallace went on a similar scoring run. He hit a long 3 while falling down, another one from way out there and then even penetrated and scored a rare two-point bucket, and anybody who said they saw that coming -- with the possible exception of Uncle Riley, the former Hawaii coach -- has better vision than I do.

Unlike Wink's binge, which should have been frosting on the cake, Wallace's began when the score was tied at 37. He outscored BYU 8-2 during that stretch as UNLV eased to a 45-39 lead it never relinquished -- although that didn't keep the Rebels from trying to give it all back.

During the last 1:26, the Rebels, who led by as much as 12 points, went to the free-throw line seven times. Oscar Bellfield missed a one-and-one, Adams hit 1 of 2, Adams hit 2 of 2, Adams hit 1 of 2, Adams hit 1 of 2, Rene Rougeau hit 1 of 2 and Bellfield hit 1 of 2.

That's seven hits and six misses. One of these days, the inability to sink an uncontested 15-foot shot is going to bite the Rebels where it hurts. But because Bellfield hit one with nine seconds to go, it rendered Lee Cummard's 3-pointer with three seconds to go irrelevant, unless you think one-point road losses should count for something.

Maybe the bracketologists are impressed by one-point losses but Kruger didn't think the Rebels' inability to shoot free throws down the stretch was as big a problem as the rest of us.

"We made just enough free throws to pull it out down the stretch," he said.

But somebody asked about the misses anyway.

"I want to talk about the makes," he said with a big smile. "It would have looked like we had made a lot more free throws if they hadn't thrown in a 3 at the last."

Other than the sellout and the contrast in halves and Wallace's scoring binge and Mo Rutledge's 13 points off the bench -- and that was probably the smallest of the surprises, considering how well he has been playing -- there was one more unexpected development.

David "Whistle While You Ref" Hall was part of the three three-man officiating crew -- and yet neither side got into the bonus during the first half. In fact, the Rebels didn't step to the line for a one-and-one until there was 1:26 to play. Well done, Mr. Hall. Let 'em play.

So here we go again. The Rebels play awful and lose by nine at Wyoming on Wednesday and bounce back three nights later to beat one of the Mountain West's marquee teams for their 20th win of the season. They're 8-5 in the MWC, which is still disappointing at this late date, but Joe Lunardi -- who is to bracketology what Joaquin Phoenix is to bizarre late night talk show appearances -- still has them among his last four teams in. And they showed they are still pretty feisty at home, which, in case you missed it, is where they are going to play the postseason tournament in a couple of weeks.

Better hang onto those earplugs.

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  1. Um....no. Cummard hit the last 3 pointer before Wink ran the clock out. No correction needed. Tavernari made the lucky as all hell 30 foot bank shot with about 15 seconds left.

    I wonder, after you watch the film Me, if you will make a notation in your next comment that you were wrong.

  2. Actually, Tavernari hit his three around the ten second mark. Then Cummard came down and made one with 3 seconds left. Leave the journalism to the pros, Me.

  3. no one likes you "Me" I bet 4 bucks you were wearing blue last night.

  4. Who cares if it was the worlds Tavernari or the worlds ugliest kid (cummard). The only word that matters is the word sweep.
    sweep.
    sounds good.

  5. Way to go Rebs..Thanks for kicking the whining kitties.. But, just one request---be kind to us in the next game?!

  6. Did Mrs. Cummard behave herself this year?? LMAO

  7. Lenny:

    Re: the crowd. That's a really good point. Rebels fans often have been accused of being fair weather fans (and I have to admit I've been one of the accusers). But coming off that bad loss at Wyoming, nobody would have blamed the UNLV faithful for staying home and watching on TV.

    Instead, they pack the place.

    The atmosphere was electric.

    As Lon K. said afterward, the crowds have been great -- and certainly more consistent than the team has been -- all season.

    The gauntlet has been laid down. Yes, I expect the BYU faithful will run with it ... next year.

  8. As distasteful as it may have been Lenny, it is still a free country. And, those empty lower-bowl seats filled all the way in by the end of the first half (I noticed the empties at tip off, too).

    It was damn nice to be a part of a sold-out T&M wave again -- something I haven't done since the Rebels played Arkansas in Feb 1990 as a 10-year old :)

  9. lenny,hav you seen the reno t-shirts?they wear em to the mack.says f-unlv.reno kids are just as bad.

  10. Lenny:

    It could be worse. The student section could have worn Rollie Massimino T-shirts. That would have been truly obscene.

    On a serious note, I totally agree with you. After the Utah game, I saw this guy run over to where the Utes were walking from the court to their lockerroom and shout what appeared to be racial slur to Lawrence Borha. Surely, my ears were deceiving me.

    Then this same guy shouted something similar to Carlon Brown. One of my press row colleagues definitely heard that one.

    I should have said something to the guy but I guess I was too shocked to believe that this sort of thing still happens.

  11. I'm not saying it isn't bad, believe me it's downright nasty and you could probably chalk it up to immaturity. But when you're sensoring people you're screwing with constitutional rights...and THAT my friend, is worse than what you heard any day.

  12. And then University Police 86's YOU from the arena. Just let it go, man.