Thursday, Dec. 18, 2008 | 2:07 a.m.
Ryan Greene and Rob Miech discuss UNLV's 78-66 victory over Santa Clara, an efficient, complete effort which leads perfectly into Saturday's showdown with Arizona. The guys break down Wink Adams busting his shooting slump, the inside presence of Brice Massamba and other tidbits from the Mack.
Some thoughts ... from the Mack
Rob Miech: “This was a big game before the big game. Santa Clara lost to Arizona, which visits the Thomas & Mack Center on Saturday, by three points last month.
“Infer what you like from that, but it tells the Rebels that they should be able to compete with the Wildcats, who just knocked off No. 4 Gonzaga.
“UNLV won the battle on the boards against the Broncos, no small task with senior center John Bryant around. And the Rebels forced 20 turnovers by upsetting what Santa Clara tried to do up top. Those two items were at the top of fifth-year coach Lon Kruger’s to-do list.”
Ryan Greene: "It's amazing what some made shots can do for a team. The Rebels started out Wednesday night by doing so, continually did so and even did so a little more toward the end, and Santa Clara was only able to hang around for about 10 minutes.
"Joe Darger, who hit three deep balls of his own, said the team discussed before the game needing to bring as much energy as possible right from go, since the crowd would probably be a bit spotty thanks to the winter weather.
"The early made shots led to better tempo on defense, as UNLV forced 20 Santa Clara turnovers.
"Plus, Wink Adams needed it more than anybody. He had a nice seven-point flurry late in the first half, capped by a 3-pointer before the buzzer. He pumped his fist and slapped the floor after exorcising his 3-point demon, and had a nice game with 16 points and five assists.
"Overall, it was the type of efficient, steady victory the Rebels needed going into Saturday's showdown with Arizona."
Inside the numbers
16: The Rebels snatched 16 offensive rebounds, including seven during an impressive opening 10 minutes to start things off Wednesday. René Rougeau had six of them on a night in which he had 16 points, seven rebounds, four steals, three assists and a blocked shots. Not a bad graduation gift.
2: After missing his last 20 3-point attempts coming into Wednesday night's game, Wink Adams went 2-of-7 from deep, and he was a consistent offensive threat en route to 16 points. He hit back-to-back jumpers mid-way through the first half atop the key, which got things started. He hit six of his 15 shot attempts, including four of seven in the first half.
40: In game two without Beas Hamga at the end of the bench, Darris Santee and Brice Massamba again proved they're a formidable one-two at the center spot. In 40 minutes played between the two, they combined for 16 points and 10 rebounds. Both had big defensive stands against Santa Clara's John Bryant, then Santee went on a nice scoring spurt in the second half to help shut the door.
45.9: UNLV's 45.9 percent shooting was impressive in the sense that it was consistent. Throughout the night, that number hardly wavered very far from the 50 percent region. The Rebels didn't have any major droughts.
100: Wednesday's victory marked Lon Kruger's 100th at UNLV, and it gave him 418 total at the collegiate level. The 100 at UNLV is the second-most he's recorded at a single stop during his career. The most were the 104 he posted at Florida.
Just in case you missed it ...
Brice Massamba made one of the game's more underrated plays mid-way through the first half while crashing the defensive glass. Out of a clutter of bodies, the UNLV freshman went crashing to the floor, and in the process drew a foul call on Bryant -- the Bronco big man's second of the game. It triggered a minor war of words, but more importantly it sent Bryant to the bench with two fouls. Massamba's presence off the bench was big for the second consecutive game by, again, doing the little things.
Hopefully you didn't miss it ...
Wink Adams may have said it best afterward by pointing out that a performance like Wednesday's is what the Rebels hoped to open the season with roughly a month ago. But, still, a 9-2 record through 11 games is nothing to scoff at. What Adams meant was a game where offense was consistently coming, the defensive tempo was perked up because of shots consistently falling and, in turn, a comfortable lead for much of the night. Even if it came later than Adams and his teammates may have liked it to, the timing is pretty good with Arizona coming to town this weekend.
They said it ...
Lon Kruger on Wink Adams: "Wink really made a couple buckets there back-to-back in the first half, and I thought that lifted a little pressure off of his shoulders and I thought he was much more aggressive, which was great to see."
Lon Kruger on his 100th win at UNLV: "I hadn't thought about that too much. Guys talked about it in the locker room afterwards, and realized afterwards that Scott Hoffman and René Rougeau have been here for all of them, so that's how far back they go. A lot of players repsonsible for that, so that's good to see."
Joe Darger on the offensive performance of the team: "It's definitely much easier and less stressful when we make shots. Other games where we're not knocking down shots, it's more of a struggle. I think that really helps the tempo on the defensive end as well."
Joe Darger on the crowd being limited due to the snow: "We talked about that before the game. We knew there was probably not going to be a huge crowd tonight, and we knew we had to bring the energy ourselves. Got out there from the start, jumped up in them, and made them start their offense way out on the floor. I thought that was huge to dictate starting early."
Wink Adams on ending his 3-point drought: "It finally went in, it was just a sigh of relief. I was so proud of myself to hit that shot, because I hadn't hit a three in the last few games. When we went back to the locker room, I told Oscar 'I finally gave you an assist.'"
Wink Adams on the team starting to find a groove: "I think everybody's on the same page now, I think everybody has the mentality we had last year. Everybody gets that, and tonight was a good start for us. We just want to take it into the Arizona game ... Tonight was kind of like our starting point. This is really how we wanted to start the season off."