Rebels hammer ‘pathetic’ Irvine both inside and out

The substitutes didn't bother to make an RSVP with UNLV coach Jerry Tarkanian - they knew they'd be welcome at the door.

UC Irvine provided the party favors with a variety of missed shots, errant free throws and costly turnovers that resulted in an easy 103-67 victory for UNLV on Thursday night before 18,632 at the Thomas and Mack Center.

Irvine Coach Bill Mulligan said his Anteaters were pathetic, but that might be doing them a service. They were much worse than that in a first half in which they connected on 5 of 26 from outside and 7 of 12 at the charity stripe en route to being down 48-17 at the intermission.

By then Tarkanian was making some reservations of his own for dinner. The starters played about five minutes of the second half before turning it over to a group of guys known only to themselves.

Chris Jeter, Barry Young, James Jones and Stacey Cvijanovich made the most of their precious minutes on the floor. They led a second-half barrage that resulted in 55 points. The three-point shot looked like it was invented by the Rebels throughout most of the second half.

UNLV hit 14 of 27 from way beyond the three-point stripe. Only Jeter, David Butler and Bryan Emerzian didn't try a bomb. Young and Anderson Hunt each had three, while Cvijanovich, Travis Bice and Stacey Augmon had two apiece. The Rebels fell only two short of the team record of 16 set against Fresno State in 1988.

"If I had know that," Hunt began, "I might have tried a few more. Barry and Stacey hitting a couple will really help take the pressure off me and Travis.

"It is good for them to hit the outside shots because they've been in a little bit of a slump. It was fun getting to watch the other guys play. I think we proved we can beat people from the outside and the inside."

UNLV might have beaten Irvine with the walk-ons who work so hard in practice. The Anteaters could not stop anybody from anywhere. Larry Johnson led the entire floor with 20 points and nine rebounds.

Butler countered with 17 points and five rebounds. He and Johnson hit a combined 15 of 23 from the field. Young finished with 13 points, Hunt added 11 and Augmon and Bice went to the showers with 10 each.

"We shot the three-point shot very well tonight," Tarkanian said. "I was glad to see Stacey hit two in a row and Barry Young came out of his slump. I'm happy to see us shoot that shot well. I can't believe we made 14 three-pointers."

Mulligan certainly believed it. Last year his team upset the Rebels by one point thanks to the outside shot. But there weren't enough bombs in his arsenal to offset the Rebels. If Tarkanian had wanted to he could have won by 50 or more.

"UNLV just has so many weapons," Mulligan said. His team lost its ninth straight to fall to 2-14 on the season and 0-7 in the Big West Conference. The ninth-ranked Rebels are 12-3 and 6-1 respectively. They're alone in first in the conference chase.

"We went to a zone in the second half because we were afraid of Johnson and Butler and then their outside guys started hitting and it was all over. I would like to remember tonight's game when the score was 10-8"

UNLV outscored Irvine 38-9 the rest of the first half and led 82-39 halfway through the second half. Irvine's Rod Palmer heated it up long enough to make it sort of respectable. He hit 4 of 10 three-pointers to finish with 16. Elgin Rogers came off the bench to score 15. Ricky Butler added 10. The Anteaters made only 39 percent of their shots for the game.

"I liked watching Chris, David and Bryan getting a chance to play," a gracious Johnson said.

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