Saturday, March 6, 2010 | 9:01 p.m.
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Ryan Greene and Case Keefer take a quick look at UNLV's 74-56 Saturday blasting of Wyoming at the Mack, then look forward to the Rebels' third meeting of the season with pesky Utah ... and beyond.
Chop really wanted to cry. When he walked on the red carpet to center court with his mother before the UNLV’s 74-56 victory against Wyoming and shook coach Lon Kruger’s hand, he felt the tears coming.
But he held them back for one reason — his teammates.
“I didn’t want my team to see it, because they wouldn’t forget it,” Jones said with a laugh. “They don’t forget things very well, so I was trying to bite my lip.”
In classic Chop fashion, he was thinking about his teammates before himself. That’s why Jones is often referred to as the consummate team player.
Although nearly everyone who appeared in the Rebels blowout win had a big game, the afternoon at the Thomas & Mack Center belonged to Jones and fellow senior Darris Santee.
“It was great to see Darris and Chop go out with great efforts for us,” Kruger said. “Those two seniors have been just terrific for our program.”
Santee had one of his most productive games of the season. He scored nine points with four rebounds.
Santee also energized the Rebels early by scoring five of their initial seven points. Santee credited his teammates for the fast start and said he knew they wanted to get the ball into the paint early.
“They were looking out for me,” Santee said. “My teammates wanted me to go out with a bang, so I appreciate that.”
Santee, who transferred from Midland (Texas) Community College two years ago, wasn’t as emotional as Jones after the game but still said it was hard to believe he had played his last home game at UNLV.
He said it didn’t hit him until after the game when he walked off the court and his mother congratulated him.
“I’m going to miss being here,” Santee said. “I’ll miss the atmosphere. The experience has been great.”
Jones’ performance was consistent with the role he’s played all year for the Rebels after transferring from Arizona State.
He served as a spark off of the bench and pestered the Wyoming guards defensively while mixing it up down low with the big men and grabbing three rebounds.
“It was the same, business as usual,” Jones said. “Play a game, focus and have fun.”
It looked like Jones might not score in his final home game as he went 13 minutes without recording a field goal.
But with a minute and a half remaining in the game, Jones got the ball just inside the three-point line on the right wing. He elevated for a long jumper and it swished through the hoop.
Although it meant nothing in the grand scheme of the game and made the score 74-56, the Thomas & Mack Center fans responded with a raucous ovation.
Jones could only smile and run down the court.
“That was fun,” Jones said. “I’m glad I could go out with a little jumper.”