Saturday, Dec. 20, 2008 | 11:13 p.m.
Ryan Greene and Rob "Python" Miech (explanation inside) discuss UNLV's 79-64 trouncing of Arizona on Saturday afternoon at the Thomas & Mack Center. They talk about Wink Adams' offensive eruption, plus what else was memorable and forgettable as the Rebels improved to 10-2 on the season.
Some thoughts ... from the Mack
Rob Miech: "They destroyed us. Those were Arizona forward Chase Budinger’s words Saturday afternoon about the UNLV Rebels. That’s an accurate assessment. Who saw this coming?
"UNLV drilled 14 3-point shots, the most it’s had in a game since March 9, 2007, when it sunk 15 in a 16-point victory over Colorado State. Wink Adams, who went 7-for-12 from long range, is back. René Rougeau accumulated his usual across-the-board stats. And there were 32 points off the bench.
"That’s all powerful, but the important numbers were Arizona’s 19 turnovers and UNLV’s eight. That is the staple of Lon Kruger’s system and it seemed like the previous 11 games were warm-ups for Arizona. The Rebels started hitting their stride Saturday."
Ryan Greene: "The Rebels appeared to be in no mood to let down the near-capacity crowd that stuffed the Thomas & Mack Center. It was a real, true, big-time college basketball atmosphere, and the Rebels played like a team worthy of it.
"René Rougeau provided the spark early, Wink Adams handled the middle and the Rebels defended hard for 40 minutes, holding the nation's second-leading 3-point shooting team to just four attempts from deep.
"The Rebels aren't necessarily peaking, but they're finding a stride, and it couldn't come at a better time, with a tune-up against Southern Utah on Tuesday night, then the non-con finale at Louisville on New Year's Eve. No two guys may be more important to have hitting that stride than Wink Adams and Tre'Von Willis, who make the Rebels easily one of the nation's Top 25 teams if they're consistently scoring the way they did Saturday."
Inside the numbers
22: Chase Budinger's final stat line looked good and all, with 22 points on efficient 8-of-15 shooting. But he was only able to attempt three 3-pointers. Remember, this is a guy who came into Saturday firing at 60 percent from beyond the arc. He was confident coming in that the Wildcats' motion offense would allow him cleaner looks from deep than he was able to find a year ago. But, once again, he left flustered and confused. Plus, with the way UNLV was hitting threes, Arizona couldn't mount much of a comeback without trifectas to call their own.
24: Rougeau is no stranger to healthy, well-rounded stat lines. On Saturday, he finished with 12 points, nine rebounds, six -- yes, six -- blocked shots, four steals and two assists. Most important may have been the early energy he provided, as the crowd at the Mack was still filing in due to traffic issues outside of the building. He had six points early, plus two key blocks against Nic Wise layup looks.
19: Arizona turned the ball over 19 times, while UNLV took significantly better care of it, only giving away possession eight times. Between UNLV's three lead guards -- Wink Adams, Tre'Von Willis and Oscar Bellfield -- there were only four combined turnovers.
14: Everyone seemed to have a hand in UNLV's breakout 3-point performance, as the Rebels cashed 14 of them on 31 tries. Of course, Wink Adams' seven connections were the highlight, but Tre'Von Willis' two late in the second half and Kendall Wallace's pair right off the bench mid-way through the first half earned significant mention, too.
Just in case you missed it ...
Arizona won't necessarily live and die by production from Budinger and Jordan Hill this season. That's because it looks like it's a given that they'll produce numbers against just about any defense. The key is keeping a third player from the depth-challenged Wildcats from going off. The most likely culprit is Wise. The junior point guard scored 21 points a week ago in an upset of then-No. 4 Gonzaga, but was stymied by the Rebels from getting much going on offense. He finished with eight points on 4-of-12 shooting.
Hopefully you didn't miss it ...
The biggest swing came in the form of a 15-0 UNLV run early in the second half, a blow from which Arizona never fully recovered. It began with the Rebels up by four at 40-36. Then, Wink Adams hit his fourth 3-pointer of the game to start off the run. He would hit another one during the stretch, Tre'Von Willis would score an old-fashioned three-point play, and Brice Massamba scored all four of his points on the afternoon.
They said it ...
Lon Kruger on Wink Adams: "Great to see that for Wink. I mean, wow. He'd been looking for that type of breakout through really 12 games. His teammates are so happy for him. I know all of a sudden there in the second half, the bucket looked about 4 feet across instead of as small as it's been looking to him. Great to see that. We're a different club obviously when he steps up and adds that dimension."
Lon Kruger on his team's developing steady play: "I thought our play against Santa Clara on Wednesday was a good start. I thought for the first time all year defensively we had a little bit of bite to what we were doing. I thought today we came back out with good intensity and good focus. Sometimes when you don't know how it feels, you don't know how to do it. I think for the first time, coming out of the Santa Clara game, we felt it again. Hopefully they can use it as a reference point and build from there."
Chase Budinger on his team's 3-point struggles against UNLV's defense: "Their biggest thing was pressure, both on the ball and denying us. They forced us to drive and they rotated well. They just never gave us any open looks. Mostly, we have at least 10 threes, but they did a great job on defense to not let that happen ... it was very surprising. We knew that they were gonna do this defense again to us. At the beginning they kind of rattled us, then we figured it out, but that's when they had their offensive surge and really put us away."
Wink Adams on his big day shooting the three: “I really didn’t feel it coming. The game started, I took my first two shots and thought, ‘OK, I’m going to have another one of these type of games.’ Once I got that first one to fall and the second before the half, teammates said, ‘Keep shooting it, it’ll fall in the second half.’ I just got momentum and the crowd got me into it.”