Thursday, Jan. 22, 2009 | 1:34 a.m.
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Ryan Greene, Rob Miech and Ron Kantowski come to you from Provo to discuss UNLV's 76-70 come-from-behind victory on Wednesday night at BYU. The fellas talk about Wink Adams' emergence as the Rebels' senior spokesperson through both his play and his words, take a look at the ever-evolving early season MWC race, plus, what is it with those shoes? It's not as minor as you might think ... if you've noticed at all. Plus, postgame comments from Lon Kruger, Wink Adams and René Rougeau.
Beyond the Sun
PROVO, Utah -- Having a 53-game homecourt winning streak snapped by Wake Forest earlier this month was humbling enough for the BYU mens' basketball team.
Having its most recent home streak -- 25 consecutive conference wins -- chopped up by rival UNLV might have cut a little deeper.
However, finding someone to say just that following the Cougars' 76-70 fall-from-ahead letdown against UNLV on Wednesday night at the Marriott Center was tough in itself.
Senior do-it-all forward Lee Cummard answered questions from the Las Vegas media for about a minute before taking advantage of the first break in the interrogation to politely slink back down the hallway toward the locker room.
Junior gunner Jonathan Tavernari -- who played his senior season of high school hoops at Bishop Gorman -- had to cordially turn down an interview request after greeting some friends on the court while wearing a snappy suit.
He relayed the message that he's currently under a gag order of sorts and can't speak with the media.
That was believed to be a by-product of a comment he made about Wake Forest before the Demon Deacons won in Provo on Jan. 3. He was quoted as calling Wake an "all-star team" that plays an "all-star game," going on to say that that means not playing much defense.
Then again, the Cougars didn't really need to put into their words what the 12,852 in attendance saw with their own eyes.
A complete and utter second-half collapse. The numbers spoke for themselves.
"They got us out of our rhythm, good defense by them, and we weren't feeding off of getting stops, because we couldn't stop them," Cummard said. "Usually when we get some stops we get some easy baskets and feel a little better about ourselves and have more confidence."
The confidence was at seemingly an all-time high at the half, as Jimmer Ferdette's last-second 3-pointer from up top put the Cougars up 43-30 at the break.
To that point, they'd gotten whatever they wanted in the open floor, holding a 6-0 advantage in fastbreak points. They'd pounded the backboard in outrebounding UNLV 21-12 and outscoring the Rebels 24-8 in the paint. They had nine points off turnovers and five second chance points, while UNLV didn't register a point in either category.
Lon Kruger's club turned the tables in the second half. As the Rebels attacked the glass and went for loose balls, BYU was slowed and thrown a curveball, going nearly 14 minutes with just one field goal out of the locker room.
BYU's lead went away with a Brice Massamba layup that put UNLV ahead 50-48 with 11:42 to play.
"It's definitely an awkward position for us," Cummard said. "It's not like that normally, especially here."
Cummard's night was symbolic of his entire team's. After doing everything under the sun in the first half, he virtually disappeared in the final 20 minutes. Following the break, he was scoreless on 0-for-3 shooting with one rebound, three assists, one turnover, two blocks and three fouls.
As a team, they were outrebounded 25-12 in the second half, went seven-of-28 from the floor and couldn't hit the timely shots that fell regularly in building their early lead.
And while the two teams essentially swapped roles from one half to the next, they also swapped positions in what is becoming a more and more cluttered early season Mountain West race.
Following Wednesday's action, TCU is alone in first at 4-1, with Utah and San Diego State tied right behind at 3-1. Then comes UNLV at 3-2, followed by New Mexico and BYU, both at 2-2.
The Lobos thumped the Cougars on Saturday in Albuquerque, 81-62.
UNLV was feeling the same pressure after losing to TCU and Colorado State back-to-back last week that BYU will now deal with as it hosts SDSU on Saturday night, then it travels down the road to take on Utah next Tuesday.
"We can't take any more games for granted," Cummard said. "We've got to go out and get it done."