Wednesday, Dec. 17, 2008 | 9:26 p.m.
Final, UNLV wins 78-66
The five inches of snow outside made everything slow down in Las Vegas on Wednesday. But UNLV went in the complete opposite direction, atoning for a sluggish victory over Western Michigan on Sunday with a 78-66 beatdown of Santa Clara.
Wink Adams led four Rebels in double figures with 16 points, including a personal seven-point flurry to send UNLV into the half with a 14-point lead. He capped it with a 3-pointer atop the key, followed by a flurry of fist pumps and a slap of the floor.
In the second half, Joe Darger got things started with the third of his three 3-pointers on the night, and Darris Santee put on the finishing touches by scoring 10 of his 11 points in the final 20 minutes. DeShawn Mitchell added the final splash with a two-handed dunk which brought the 5,000 or so in attendance to their feet one last time.
UNLV went 28-of-61 from the floor in one of their more efficient offensive performances of the season, and it was a nice jump-off into Saturday's much awaited showdown with Arizona. That game will tip at 12:00 p.m. in the Thomas & Mack Center.
Rougeau again was stellar, with 15 points, seven rebounds, four steals, three assists and a block.
For full postgame coverage, including stories, photos, video, stats and The Rebel Room: Postgame Edition, stay tuned to www.lasvegassun.com/rebels.
7:49, second half, UNLV leads 65-46
UNLV's well-rounded offensive showing continues to roll on, as the most recent Rebel to step up is Darris Santee, whose point total on the night bumped from one to seven in a matter of minutes.
After a tidy little move for two off the glass, he was the recipient of a nice touch pass from René Rougeau for a slam. With that bucket, UNLV's modest double-digit lead creeped even closer to the 20-point barrier, as the Rebels lead the Broncos, 65-46, heading into the game's stretch run.
Rougeau also added a baseline jumper before the media timeout, making him the third Rebel to reach double figures tonight, and UNLV is shooting nearly 50 percent from the floor (23-of-47).
No signs of UNLV slowing down, and Lon Kruger couldn't be more pleased with his team's offensive outburst of sorts, as the schedule, again, is about to tighten up quite a bit.
15:27, second half, UNLV leads 52-39
Wink Adams hit his second 3-pointer of the game from atop the key, but Santa Clara's staying aggressive on the offensive end early in the second half, and still trails by just 13 points.
After Joe Darger opened up the second half with his second deep ball of the game, Perry Petty took an offensive board away from René Rougeau and was fouled going back up. The scrappy SC guards kept it coming, too, as Kevin Foster scored an and-one bucket just before the first media timeout of the half.
But as long as UNLV keeps up the 50 percent shooting, it's tough to see how the Broncos can fully close in on a double-digit lead.
Halftime, UNLV leads 42-28
Wink Adams capped off an 11-point first half with a seven-point flurry at the end of the half, and UNLV leads Santa Clara, 42-28, following a convincing first half performance.
Adams scored an and-one layup on a tough drive, hit the free throw, then splashed in a trey at the buzzer, sending him into a fist-pump flurry near midcourt, capped with a slap of the hardwood. Combine that with the two jumpers he hit atop the key earlier in the half, and he is enjoying his 4-of-7 showing from the floor in the first half, given his recent struggles.
Here are some other numbers of note from the first half ...
-UNLV has seven offensive rebounds -- all grabbed in the game's first 10 minutes -- and the board battle is tied, 18-18. René Rougeau had 3 offensive caroms to go with his six points and two steals.
-Santa Clara's John Bryant, as predicted, is getting his. He has 10 points and seven rebounds so far. He did a great job of not picking up a potentially painful third foul in the final stretch of the half.
-The Rebels are 5-of-11 from 3-point range, and five different players have hit them.
-Every Rebel to play so far has scored a point, and everyone but Wink Adams has a rebound.
If UNLV duplicates that performance over the final 20 minutes, that would be about as perfect a showing as Lon Kruger could hope for heading into Saturday's showdown with Arizona. Also, look to see what Brice Massamba brings off the bench this half. He's sure to get more minutes than the seven he played in the first half, and he might be rarin' to go after picking up two fouls away from the ball in a short span of time.
3:12, first half, UNLV leads 4-21
Thanks to 3-pointers from Joe Darger and Kendall Wallace, the Rebels still lead Santa Clara, 34-21, as we come into the stretch run of the first half.
But the Broncos are keeping close thanks to a couple of nifty inside buckets -- one from John Bryant, one from James Rahon -- and some successful working of the officials by coach Kerry Keating. Noting a serious foul call disadvantage early on, he's stayed on the officials, and it worked.
His team earned two fouls on Brice Massamba -- both away from the ball -- sending the UNLV big man to the bench. Then there was another just moments after Massamba's second whistle against Oscar Bellfield.
But, still, UNLV's patience on offense is paying off. The Rebels are 12-of-24 from the floor, 4-of-9 from deep, and all nine Rebels to play so far tonight have scored.
7:31, first half, UNLV leads 24-12
It's been a long time since the Rebels have led this comfortably in the first half of a ball game, and still, Brice Massamba is at the center of it all.
His most recent exploits saw him grab UNLV's seventh offensive board of the game, throw a shoulder into Santa Clara 7-footer Troy Alexander to create some space, then drop in two points off the glass. He has three points, and is truly establishing himself in the post, having already set SC's John Bryant on the bench with foul trouble.
Also, Wink Adams hit back-to-back jumpers atop the key, as he's 2-of-3 from the floor so far. He's not out of the slump yet, but he's looking as confident as ever.
UNLV could certainly use a big win tonight, considering what's on the horizon.
11:54, first half, UNLV leads 14-8
Brice Massamba's getting his hands into all sorts of cookie jars here in his first stint off the bench for UNLV, and it's helped spark the Rebels to a 14-8 first half lead.
First, after a strong move inside which drew plenty of attention, he kicked out to Tre'Von Willis for an easy, wide open 3-pointer. Then, he hit one of two free throws after collecting UNLV's sixth offensive board of the game.
Right before the break, though, he drew the second foul of the game against Santa Clara's top weapon -- John Bryant. As a result, things got a little chippy between Wink Adams and SC's Decensae White. Either way, it put Bryant on the bench, possibly for the rest of the first half.
14:53, first half, UNLV leads 8-4
The Rebels are showing some nice patience on the offensive end so far, and thanks to some spirited defense, they've kept the 3,000 or so in attendance amidst the winter storm into it early.
René Rougeau used some hustle to get the scoring going for the Rebs, first slipping in two off the glass following a Joe Darger air-mailed 3-point attempt. Then, he hit a short jumper in a fast break situation off of a Wink Adams steal. The big separator so far is a trio of Oscar Bellfield free throws. He got hacked atop the key firing a long ball.
UNLV's gone to the glass early and has a 7-4 edge, including five offensive rebounds. Rougeau has three of them.
Santa Clara's John Bryant has two points early off of a nice Perry Petty feed, but UNLV's sealed him off pretty well.
It's just a weird, casual atmosphere tonight so far thanks to the snow.
Another day, another group of Broncos, but some unusual weather here in Las Vegas.
Rebels junior walk-on guard Scotty Hoffman was the first player to come out of the Thomas & Mack Center tunnel for shootarounds, and with hardly a butt in the seats, looked over and said "I feel like I'm back in Hays."
Of course, he was referencing to his hometown of Hays, Kan. Back there, four inches of snow on a December afternoon is moderate. In Las Vegas, it feels like the apocalypse. This is UNLV's first game back in the Thomas & Mack Center in nearly two weeks. But the weather appears to have scared some fans away. We're 30 minutes from tip, and we've already set the over/under on attendance at 4,000.
The NFR may have left the building, but the smell of manure is still wafting through the air a little bit.
Another nice scene here before the action was senior walk-on Rob Ketchum walking out of the locker room in uniform for the first time in a Rebel. You couldn't wipe the smile off his face if you tried. He got well-earned handshakes from Lon Kruger and Lew Hill.
On to tonight's three big predictions ...
1) Picks to Click: Miech wants Oscar Bellfield, I'm going with Joe Darger and the first lady of our office, Christine Killimayer, picks Wink Adams to snap it.
2) I predict that a lot of what you see the UNLV big men tonight will be in pseudo-preparation for Saturday when Arizona and Jordan Hill come to town. Santa Clara's John Bryant is 6-foot-11, 275 pounds, and averages 18.4 points and 12.0 rebounds per game. Not a bad warmup. Expect him to get his, win or lose.
3) UNLV 61, Santa Clara 59. Another ugly one.
Talk to you in a bit.