REBELS BASKETBALL:

Adams upbeat despite senior struggles

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Sam Morris

UNLV guard Wink Adams takes the ball up the court during the second half of their Mountain West Conference opener against New Mexico at the Thomas & Mack Center earlier this month. Adams returned to the lineup after missing the game against Louisville due to an injury.

Win No. 1 in Conference

UNLV opened up the Mountain West Conference season with a close 60 to 58 win over New Mexico Saturday night at the Thomas & Mack Center.

UNLV vs. New Mexico

Darris Santee and Kendall Wallace can't bear to watch as UNLV shot two-of-seven at the free throw line in the last 38 seconds. The Rebels still managed to beat the Lobos, 60-58. Launch slideshow »

UNLV Fan Photos

Photos of fans from Saturday's game against New Mexico Launch slideshow »

UNLV guard Wink Adams isn’t exactly having the time of his life like those Hallmark cards say you're supposed to do during your senior year of school.

First he struggled through his much-publicized shooting slump.

Then just as quickly as he found his touch by torching Arizona for 25 points on Dec. 20, the Houston native endured an even more frustrating setback — going down with an abdominal strain against Southern Utah three days later.

The lower ab injury kept Adams out of UNLV’s big victory over Louisville on New Year’s Eve.

It made him look like a shell of his former self as he went scoreless for just the second time in his career as the Rebels survived a last-second shot to defeat New Mexico in their Mountain West Conference opener Saturday night at the Thomas & Mack Center.

“It’s real sore now, but it’s nothing I can’t fight through,” said an upbeat Adams, who misfired on all six of his shots in UNLV’s 60-58 victory.

“It’s really tough when you can’t go out and play defense, can’t go out and do certain things on offense. I’m pretty restricted right now, so I try to just make the plays I can. My teammates told me they’re backing me up.”

And that includes off the court, too, where fellow senior and good friend Rene Rougeau says Adams' leadership has really been tested this season.

“He’s definitely battling through a lot of adversity right now and I’m proud of him,” Rougeau said. “He’s not a real vocal leader, but he shows it through his actions.

“This all shows me that he really wants it. He’s coming into his own every day an stepping up and being that leader that we need.”

Although his stat sheet had the zero in the scoring column, Adams did grab two rebounds and had three assists in 18 minutes of action.

He looked most bothered Saturday when he attempted his signature moves of driving to the basket, often looking for a person to pass to instead of showing his normal explosion through the lane.

“I can’t really put a lot of pressure on my right leg,” said Adams, who listed himself at “75 to 80 percent.”

“I got to find other ways to do things. It’s getting better by the day. Hopefully I can heal up and get rid of that pain by next Saturday.”

The Rebels don’t play again until they travel to TCU on Jan. 10, which Adams said should be enough time to heal completely.

“But even if I’m only 90 to 95 percent, I know I’m playing,” he said. “I’m always the type of person that will come out and do whatever I can to help my teammates.”

Adams smiled when asked how he’s coped with the sour stretch during his season.

“Just another experience that’s made me stronger,” he said with a grin. “Even though I’m hurt, I can’t put my head down. We still got a lot of games left and a lot to look forward to.

“I just got to get healthy, bounce back, and get ready to have some fun.”

Andy Samuelson is a sports writer/editor for the Las Vegas Sun. He can be reached at [email protected] or 702-948-7837.

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