As usual, beating Temple not so simple

But Rebels manage to win, 82-76, after Owls mount late comeback

PHILADELPHIA - Perhaps it would have been more fitting had they removed the hardwood floor of the Spectrum and let them play on the ice underneath.

All that was missing from UNLV's basketball game with Temple on Saturday was a penalty box in this rough-and-tumble affair, eventually won by the seventh-ranked Rebels 82-76 before a crowd of 13,206.

A total of 56 fouls were called, six players fouled out and an intentional foul called on the Owls' Mike Kilgore with 34 seconds left sent Larry Johnson to the charity stripe to put out the fire.

Trailing by 17 (68-51) with 8:41 remaining, Temple mounted a comeback that had UNLV Coach Jerry Tarkanian biting his nails down to his knuckles. The Owls had just lost Mark Macon to fouls and appeared well on their way to being blown out of the arena when UNLV welcomed them back in.

A three-pointer by Johnnie Conic, coupled with David Butler's fifth foul with 52 seconds left, resulted in a five-point play that cu the Rebels' lead to two (76-74).

Johnson sank two free throws a second later, then added two more on a controversial intentional foul to seal the win. Johnson went to the showers with 26 points, 12 rebounds and a whole lot of talk going on.

"There was a lot of woofin' out there," Johnson said. UNLV is 10-3, while Temple falls to 6-6. "Everybody says we're the hoodlums, but we weren't just talking to ourselves. So-and-so says this and so-and-so says that. And then pretty soon you have a whole lot of pushin' and shovin'.

"Well, that's all right with us. We like to play that way. We can talk and play. I don't think it distracted me any, but I'm not sure about them. Man, that's just part of the game."

It was the game for most of the second half. Every time a whistle blew, or one player hammered another to the court, the teams would meet in the middle and do a little jawing. Ancestries were questioned. Fists were clenched. It looked like a fight would break out at any second.

"This was a very strange game," Tarkanian said. "Our guys started off playing absolutely horrible, then Duane Causwell gets into foul trouble and we actually get a led at the half which I felt very good about.

"Then we really played hard in the second half and took control with about eight minutes left. We let Tempe get back into the game with our fouling. Every time I heard the horn blow, I figured it meant we had another guy coming over to join me on the bench."

Actually Temple Coach John Chaney had more of his starters with him than did Tarkanian. Macon went down early, which turned out to be a blessing considering his performance, then backup Chris Lovelace, Causwell and finally point guard Michael Harden

The all-Big West Conference officiating crew sent only Butler and Stacey Cvijanovich to the UNLV bench, although Johnson and Barry Young each finished with four fouls.

"I think that referee with the moustache (Al Hackney), is the best I have ever seen," Chaney said with a touch of sarcasm in his voice. "I would have thrown my coat on the floor, but I had my wallet in there and was afraid I might lose 10 bucks.

"We didn't lose this game because of fouls. UNLV played a great defense on Macon and took us out of our game. We only got back in it because they became a little too cautious. You do that when you lead by 10 or more with so little time left on the clock."

Neither team shot well from the field, but had nice days at the foul line. The Rebels connected on 39.7 percent from the outside, while Temple hit 35.5 percent. UNLV made it on 31 of 41 at the foul line. The Owls countered with 26 of 34.

"We were really flat early on," Tarkanian said. "We didn't let them know until about 90 minutes before the game that Anderson Hunt wouldn't be playing. That is the darndest thing. (UNLV Athletic Director) Brad (Rothermel) called me at midnight on Friday to let me know."

Hunt was told Saturday morning that a university audit determined he had not fully repaid a student loan. The NCAA said he should be held out of Saturday's game until the matter is reviewed on Monday.

Hunt said in a released statement that the money had been repaid through deductions in his scholarship checks, and that he was shocked to find out he wouldn't be playing.

As a result, Tarkanian put Young in at the off-guard. Greg Anthony was moved off Macon and onto Harden. Young took Kilgore and Stacey Augmon smothered Macon.

"This was a great game for Stacey," Tarkanian said. "He needed a game like this on defense. I thought he got all over Macon and disrupted his shot. It was a thing of beauty."

Macon hit only 4 of 22 from the field to finish with 11 points. Butler's former high school teammate, Donald Hodge, more than picked up the slack with 31 points and 11 rebounds.

The seven-footer made 15 of 18 at the foul line and played all 40 minutes. Kilgore also played 40 minutes, but wasn't nearly as effective. He had 12 points, but hit only 2 of 10 from the field. Causwell rounded out the attack with nine points and four boards.

Butler was second in scoring for UNLV with 18 points and had 10 rebounds. Anthony added 16 points and four assists, while Augmon had 14 points and four rebounds. The Rebels committed just 12 turnovers, but forced only 11 against the Owls.

Augmon and Causwell were the sultans of swats with four apiece.

"It was a very physical game down in the paint," Butler concluded. "I've been working so hard on my free throws in practice (12 of 14), that my jump shot is coming up short. It was a very physical game. But we like that kind of thing. I'm not sure they can say the same.

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