Thursday, Jan. 1, 2009 | 12:05 a.m.
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Ryan Greene and Rob Miech dissect UNLV's 56-55 upset win at No. 18 Louisville on Dec. 31, 2008, which the Rebels completed with leading scorer Wink Adams out of the lineup. René Rougeau and Tre'Von Willis both rose to the occasion in terms of production and leadership, while Oscar Bellfield provided the late-game heroics. The guys also give some New Year's resolutions for both the Rebels and themselves.
Wink Adams started rebounding for his UNLV teammates during warm-ups more than an hour before Wednesday night’s game against Louisville at Freedom Hall.
Eventually, he joined his fellow Rebels in a lay-up drill and took some shots of his own, all while wearing his black sweats.
He never took off those sweats.
For the first time in UNLV’s past 116 games, Adams did not play.
The senior guard injured a lower abdominal muscle against Southern Utah on Dec. 23 at the Thomas & Mack Center. Although his rehab has gone well, he was held out of Wednesday’s game as a precaution.
Adams leads the Rebels with 14.1 points a game.
“It was real hard not playing with him,” said freshman guard Oscar Bellfield. “We just have to make sure he gets healthy and is ready for conference, and we’ll be good.”
While some teammates, like Brice Massamba and DeShawn Mitchell, exchanged laughter on the bench in the second half, Adams wore a pained expression.
It was evident how badly he wanted to be on the court, as the Rebels’ 15-point lead in the first half turned into a two-point deficit late in the second half.
Bellfield hit a game-winning bank shot with 16.8 seconds remaining, and the Rebels grabbed a last-second rebound off a close miss by Cardinals senior forward Terrence Williams.
UNLV escaped Louisville with a 56-55 victory. Afterward, Adams couldn’t contain his glee as he celebrated on the court with his teammates.
He escaped Freedom Hall through a maze of stairs and tunnels.
“This win was definitely for Wink, without a doubt,” said Rene Rougeau, who scored a game-best 17 points. “I wish he could have been there to play with us. He wanted to be out there real bad.
“Everyone just really played hard. I kinda felt that they were gonna take us for granted, since Wink wasn’t playing. We definitely used that to our advantage.”
Bellfield almost thought Adams would tear off his sweats and report into the game at some point.
“It probably hurt him to watch, but I’m sure he loved it that we won,” Bellfield said. “He wanted to be a part of it. But we had to take over and do what we had to do. This says a lot.
“With him, we’ll be real great. We did real well without him. With him, we’ll be stronger.”
How low can you go?
Louisville had only 16 baskets, a low for a UNLV opponent over its past 32 games. On Jan. 15, BYU sank only 15 field goals in a 70-41 defeat to the Rebels at the Thomas & Mack Center.
The Cardinals had only 15 field goals in a defeat to Western Kentucky in Nashville on Nov. 30.
A hole at center
UNLV centers Darris Santee and Brice Massamba committed more total fouls (seven) than they had combined points and rebounds (four).
Santee had a free throw and a board, and he had three fouls, in 13 minutes. Massamba had two points and four fouls in 10 minutes, but his basket was a big one.
With 13:29 left, he grabbed a blind pass from point guard Oscar Bellfield on the right side and put in a layup on the left side for a 40-32 lead for the Rebels.
That was UNLV’s sole basket over a stretch of almost 12 minutes, when a 38-27 lead had turned into a 50-48 deficit.
For the eighth time in their last 11 games, the Rebels lost the battle of the boards, 38-27. Like Arizona, Louisville yanked down 19 offensive rebounds.
Bellfield matched a season high with six turnovers, but that figures to be downplayed after his game-winning shot.
He also played a career-high 36 minutes.
“Oscar did a great job,” said UNLV coach Lon Kruger. “He just continues to grow. Even though he battled a few turnovers, he handled it. (Tre’Von Willis) got two early fouls, and we weren’t able to spell Oscar very much.
“Oscar fought not only Louisville but fatigue. He really grew up.”
On a roll
Rougeau made eight of his nine shots Wednesday, improving his marksmanship over his past seven games to 67.1 percent (47-for-70).
He has averaged 14.6 points over that stretch.
Rougeau played a season-high 37 minutes. Last season, he played 38 minutes twice and 39 in two other games … over his past five games, sophomore guard Tre’Von Willis has gone 23-for-27 at the line … senior walk-on Rob Ketchum traveled and suite up for a UNLV road game for the first time. He became academically eligible to play over the holiday and wore a No. 13 Rebels uniform for the first time Dec. 17 against Santa Clara. Just wearing a uniform, said the hard-working scout-team player, is a dream come true … UNLV sophomore walk-on guard Todd Hanni and his father, Jeff, made the trek from Danville, Ind., to Louisville for the game. Danville is outside Indianapolis, about 1 hour, 45 minutes from Louisville. Hanni had been with his family since Dec. 24 and is returning to Las Vegas with the Rebels.