Monday, Dec. 15, 2008 | 2:07 a.m.
Ryan Greene and Rob Miech discuss UNLV's 70-61 victory over Western Michigan on Sunday afternoon at the Orleans Arena. It was a game without much flow, but Brice Massamba established himself as a solid No. 2 center in playing 16 minutes off the bench. Plus, Rougeau's Orleans magic, Wink's continued struggles and the Beas Hamga saga.
Some thoughts ... from the Orleans
Rob Miech: “Another sluggish UNLV game before the home crowd. Or, at least, whoever wanted to make the drive over to the Orleans Igloo, er, Arena. Watching courtside, the tips of the toes started getting numb midway through the first half. Both teams shot cold on the season and stayed that way in this one.
“Probably the best parts of the victory were that the bench scored 19 points, its best production over the past five games, which matched the 19 it produced at UTEP, in the fifth game. And Brice Massamba looks like he will thrive knowing the back-up center spot is his for good, with the departure of big-time project Beas Hamga.”
Ryan Greene: "Wink Adams was as friendly and engaging as always following Sunday's win, even though his team-high 18 points came on just 5-of-16 shooting.
"The reason? His team won. Despite his recent struggles -- and, yes, this is the worst slump of his UNLV career -- he continues to worry about one thing.
"During this stretch, the only game he's been visibly angry after was the loss to Cincinnati. In that game, he was 2-of-11 from the floor and scored five points. But it was the defeat that irked him on that day.
"He's carrying himself right now like a guy who knows he'll snap out of it at some point, and if you're a UNLV fan, that's all you can ask for."
Inside the numbers
61.8: Lon Kruger and Adams both after the game talked about turning a 10-point lead into a 20-point lead and the importance of being able to do that regularly. What kept UNLV from doing so on Sunday was a slew of missed free throws. The Rebels were just 21-of-34 from the line, including six misses from Adams and three from Massamba. But Tre'Von Willis going 5-for-5 at the line was pretty key late.
11: René Rougeau scored 11 points, and many of them were a byproduct of hustle -- as usual. But, yet again, his stat line included much more. He had team-highs with 11 rebounds and three blocked shots. It was his second stellar performance in the Orleans Arena in two years.
16: Massamba's 16 minutes were huge in showing that the Rebels have two big men who can carry an equal load between him and Darris Santee. That made Beas Hamga's absence all but forgotten on Sunday. The frosh from Findlay Prep had eight points, and got himself to the line on four occasions, playing one of his most active games yet as a Rebel.
10: Western Michigan's leading scorer, David Kool, was held to just 10 points on an ugly 3-of-14 shooting performance. Almost every time he got the ball on the outside, the UNLV defense forced him to drive to the hoop, where he met even more size. He was just 1-of-6 from long range, and had maybe only one or two clean looks.
21: UNLV scored 21 points off turnovers to Western Michigan's 20. Several of those were momentum-building buckets. And while UNLV couldn't capitalize in the sense of forming a monster run, they were a big part of what helped the Rebels hold the pesky Broncos at bay all the way up until the end. WMU turned the ball over 18 times to UNLV's 10.
Just in case you missed it ...
Oscar Bellfield started his second consecutive game at the point, but yet again split time at the position pretty evenly with Tre'Von Willis. Bellfield played 29 minutes, scored seven points and had two assists, while in 21 minutes of a run, Willis also scored seven, had four rebounds and two steals. It's starting to look like that starting point guard spot will be a revolving door for much of the season, but it really doesn't appear to matter. They're both playing well, and neither seems to care whether they start or not.
Hopefully you didn't miss it ...
Just as they did against UNR last Saturday, UNLV limited Western Michigan's offensive rebounds, allowed only seven second-chance points, and was able to stem the Broncos' possessions. And it was a lot of unusual suspects soaring in to do the work, with Joe Darger grabbing five defensive rebounds, Wink Adams four and Tre'Von Willis three. However, UNLV did allow WMU to snatch 28 defensive boards.
They said it
Lon Kruger on his team taking another closer-than-expected victory: "Good to come out on the right side. Yet, another opportunity, as so many of the ball games have gone, we keep saying we want to learn and make progress and get better, and clearly we keep showing that we need to."
Wink Adams on his recent struggles offensively: "Sometimes, I've got a tendency to pressure myself, put a lot of pressure on myself for missing shots. My team depends on me to hit those shots. When I miss shots, I kind of get down on myself. But coaches, teammates always tell me to keep shooting. When I miss one shot, I just try to keep going, do what I can do to hit that shot again."
Wink Adams on getting back into the Thomas & Mack Center on Wednesday: "For these last two weeks, all we've been seeing are bulls and smelling manure. Just to play on that court again is gonna feel good."
Rene Rougeau on again coming up huge at the Orleans Arena: "It's a fun arena, playing in the casino. Definitely like the locker rooms, and it's always good to have a little alternate arena."