UNLV licking its wounds after win over Fresno

There were barely enough doctors in the house to tend to all the patients.

Greg Anthony (fractured jaw in two places), Stacey Cvijanovich (separated right shoulder) and David Butler (twisted knee) all were treated during Monday night's Big West conference game with Fresno State, eventually won by seventh-ranked UNLV 69-64 before a crowd of 17,885.

But the cost of this victory can only be measured by how many of the players are back for Thursday's critical game with 25th ranked New Mexico State. Anthony's fracture was wired by Dr. Daniel Orr, who said prior to performing the operation that Anthony could play as soon as Thursday's game.

"I know kickers (in football) have been able to play," Orr said. "But I don't know about basketball players. It would be difficult because of breathing through a closed mouth."

Anthony is listed as questionable for Thursday and probable for Sunday vs. Arizona. He fractured the jaw at the 13:41 mark of the first half when he collided with Wilbert Hooker. The post-operation X-rays were considered encouraging.

"Oh boy," UNLV Coach Jerry Tarkanian sighed. "I don't know where to start. It's beyond belief. I can't believe any of this. We were fortunate to win and unfortunate with all the injuries. I don't know who'll be able to play on Thursday."

"Our guys are dead tired. Defensively, they couldn't move. Our feet seemed glued to the floor. The only reason we won is that we have the greatest kids who have a lot of character. Stacey played the whole second half with a dislocated shoulder."

His status is listed as questionable for the next two games. The doctors believe it will be at least a week before he is able to go, leaving Tarkanian with only one healthy guard. Travis Bice is out 10 days with chicken pox.

"That just leaves me," sophomore guard Anderson Hunt said. "I'm definitely coming down with something (suspected chicken pox). But I'll be ready. You can count on that."

Butler hobbled around on a sprained right knee for most of the second half. He and Larry Johnson picked up this M.A.S.H. unit of a team and carried it to the finish line. Fresno State did everything it could to derail the Rebels, but the Bulldogs had no answers for Johnson and Butler down low.

Johnson led all scorers with 23 points and grabbed 14 rebounds as well. Butler added 22 points and nine boards. It was their baskets down the stretch that broke open a very tight game.

UNLV broke a 53-53 tie with 11:15 remaining on a free throw by Johnson and never trailed after that. The Bulldogs got within two on numerous occasions, but never hit the key basket.

"I kept looking for big Dave and he kept looking for me," Johnson said. "We've had to overcome so much adversity this year. Nothing could happen that would surprise me. We have to suck it up and play hard the rest of the way."

If UNLV's tanks weren't running on empty prior to Monday's game, they are now. With two of its most important games just around the corner, Tarkanian will need all of his coaching abilities at his disposal.

The Rebels are 12-1 in the tight league chase and 20-4 overall. New Mexico State doesn't play until Thursday. The Aggies are 11-1 in conference and 20-2 in league. That will ultimately decide the conference champion.

"We've been pointing to these two games all year," Tarkanian said. "It looks like Vietnam for us. I don't know who we'll play where. That will depend on who's healthy enough to play."

It's likely Hunt will go to the point, with Barry Young at the off-guard spot. Stacey Augmon could also play the two spot, which would move Young to the wing. Tarkanian also led an offense against Louisiana State where Johnson went to the wing and Moses Scurry to the post.

Hunt was UNLV's third-leading scorer Monday with eight points. The Rebels only made it worse for themselves by hitting just 15 of 30 from the foul line. Fatigue and lack of concentration can be blamed for that. UNLV made 46 percent of its shots from the field and only two three-pointers.

Fresno State was led by forward Tod Bernard, who finished with 16 points. The Bulldogs fell to 4-8 in conference and 9-12 overall. Hooker and Dave Barnett rounded out their attack with 13 each.

"I thought we played well enough to win," Fresno Coach Ron Adams said. "But in the end, Larry Johnson did some great things. We needed to control and shorten the game. We did that. We were in a position to win, and just didn't do it."

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