December 5, 2019 Currently: 47° | Complete forecast

Rebels roll to Final Four

UNLV runs past Loyola 131-101, meets Georgia Tech in Denver Saturday

OAKLAND, Calif. ----- Loyola, Marymount’s players had been living in a dream through the first three rounds of the NCAA West Regional. On Sunday afternoon that dream ended.

UNLV shook the Lions awake by beating them at their own fast-paced game 131-101 before 14,289 at Oakland Coliseum Arena. It was the second-ranked Rebels who were off and running at every opportunity, leaving an exhausted Marymount team wondering who stole its game plan.

UNLV advanced to the Final Four on a brand of determination that hasn’t been seen in more than a month by those who’ve watched this 33-5 team. UNLV is set to play Georgia Tech Saturday at approximately 5:15 pm (PST) in McNichols Arena. The Rebels, making there second Final Four appearance in four years, were the only top seed to advance.

“The key for us was to get out to an early lead and try to keep them down,” UNLV Coach Jerry Tarkanian said. “I think we showed them that we can run too. I thought we attacked the press extremely well.

“When we got the numbers, we took it and scored. When we didn’t have them, our guys backed it out and tried to pound it inside to David (Butler) and Larry (Johnson). I thought one of the real keys was defensive transition. I thought we got back real fast, and stopped their fast break.”

UNLV was on top from the opening tip as five different players dropped in the first five baskets. Four minutes later, UNLV led 20-9. The Rebels kept looking over their shoulders to see if anyone was gaining on them. At one point, Marymount cut it to four (43-39) but was outscored 24-8 over the last five minutes to trail by 20 (67-47) at halftime.

“It’s a great feeling to be going back,” Tarkanian said. “ I know I’m biased but I believe the Final Four is one of the greatest events in sports. Not everyone gets to be a part of that. I know our team feels very fortunate to be a part of this show.”

Stacey Augmon, named the regional’s outstanding player, and Anderson Hunt were the real keys for UNLV. Augmon had 33 points and 11 rebounds. He finished the break well when he had to. The junior ripped the right-foot jumper off the break consistently to keep Loyola from being able to create anything.

Just a he did in UNLV’s season opening win over Loyola, Hunt played an important part with his outside shot. He didn’t force anything, but when the downtown shot became available, he took it. The sophomore off-guard finished with 30 points and an astonishing 13 assists.

“I knew I had to play well for us to have a chance to win,” Hunt said. “There were a lot comments in the paper by them that we were going to get tired chasing after them. We didn’t say anything.

“We just came out and showed them the Rebels can run too. When I hit my first two shots, I thought I was on. But then I missed my next two, and then I didn’t anything about that playing against Loyola because I knew my shots would come.”

Most of UNLV’s shots found the range. The Rebels hit 59 percent from the field and 69 percent at the foul line. Loyola launched 94 shots, but only Bo Kimble hit anything on a consistent basis. He connected on his first eight-three pointers en-route to scoring 42 points, while grabbing 11 rebounds.

But despite that excellent total, Augmon did a credible job on a player who has taken his team to heights only God would have thought imaginable. When he left the court, the fans rose to give him a standing ovation for helping to create one of America’s most heartwarming stories.

“I think the fans were saying that they were appreciative of how hard we played,” Kimble said. “They were showing their support for me throughout my career. I believe the fans were pleased that the team played as hard as we could, and that we went out with class. That as the most important thing.”

UNLV didn’t begin to celebrate until the players went over and spoke privately with the Loyola team. The Rebels began the game by shaking Westhead’s hand and with a minute left, Christ Jeter walked up to John O’Connell and said, “You guys played with a lot of heart.”

It wasn’t enough this time around. The Rebels felt for Loyola and the loss of Hank Gathers. But they didn’t allow themselves to get caught up in that, or to feel sorry for Loyola. As Greg Anthony put it, “I didn’t want to go home feeling sorry for them and wind up watching them go to the Final Four.”

Anthony finished with 21 points and eight assists by hitting 8 out of 10 from the field. Johnson had 20 points and 18 rebounds, while a foul-plagued Butler scored nine points and had right rebounds.

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