Wednesday, Dec. 24, 2008 | 2:08 a.m.
Ryan Greene and Rob Miech discuss UNLV's 73-60 defeat of Southern Utah on Tuesday night at the Thomas & Mack Center, plus Wink Adams' injury mid-way through the first half. His departure thrust Kendall Wallace into expanded action, and the sophomore gunner responded. Plus, why René Rougeau is the team's unquestioned MVP to this point in the season. And, what needs to change before the Rebels take on Louisville on New Year's Eve.
Until Tuesday, UNLV had only experienced a few jammed fingers and other minor bumps and bruises on its injury list.
Senior guard Wink Adams suffered the most serious blow Tuesday night against Southern Utah, when he crumpled to the court after tweaking an abdominal muscle.
The injury will be further evaluated today, when Adams undergoes a Magnetic Resonance Imaging test.
Another Rebel has been playing with pain, however, and sophomore guard Tre’Von Willis said surgery on his right shoulder might be an option after the season.
Until then, cortisone will relieve the pain he’s been feeling since he separated the shoulder as a sophomore in high school. “It never healed properly,” Willis said.
He received his first cortisone shot from trainer Dave Tomcheck on Nov. 29, after a loss to Cincinnati at the Thomas & Mack Center. He had slightly separated the shoulder in an early-season game. Willis said he’s due for another injection soon.
For a couple weeks, Willis said the shoulder has been about “80 percent” healthy. He said he will evaluate the condition of the shoulder after the season.
Despite playing with a seriously sore throat, senior swingman Rene Rougeau hit seven of his eight shots Tuesday night for 16 points.
It was only the second time he has led the Rebels in scoring this season.
More important, Rougeau is on a roll. Over his past six games, he has gone 39-for-61 (63.9 percent) from the field.
Sophomore guard Kendall Wallace scorched the nets for a career-high 15 points on Tuesday.
He also has connected on six 3-pointers over his past three games, his best stretch at UNLV.
At least when he drives to and from campus, he has less on his mind. Last season, the wife of his great-uncle, former Hawaii coach Riley Wallace, toiled trying to teach him how to drive a stick shift.
That old orange Nissan 280Z took a bit of a beating.
Before this season, though, Wallace went back to his high school wheels –- a Maxima.
It’s an automatic.
His wide smile while telling that story before the season started told anyone all he needed to know about Wallace’s relief and comfort level with his new-old rig.
DeShawn Mitchell, a 6-5 freshman leaper from Newark, N.J., played his most significant minutes Tuesday in a month but he missed his only shot attempt.
It wasn’t just an average shot, though.
With a bit more than four minutes left, UNLV led 62-50 and forced a Southern Utah turnover at halfcourt. The ball quickly zipped into Mitchell’s hands, and he sailed in from the left side of the court.
But he appeared to hesitate as he sized up what he wanted to do with the ball. The Rebels’ most electric finisher then missed a two-handed slam dunk.
UNLV coach Lon Kruger didn’t change his neutral expression from the bench, but there was a certain buzz about the gaffe in the arena.
Kruger kept Mitchell in the game for another two minutes before putting Willis in for him.
Mitchell has played in nine of UNLV’s 13 games. He logged five minutes Tuesday, his most time in his past seven games.
Freshman guard Oscar Bellfield has dished out 15 assists and turned the ball over only twice in his past two games … junior walk-on guard Scott Hoffman’s jumper with 37 seconds left Tuesday was his first basket since Dec. 18, 2006, when he hit his only other one as a Rebel against Norfolk State. He is 2-for-14 in his career … after his breakout 21 points at Fresno State, junior center Darris Santee has scored in double figures, with 11 against Santa Clara, in only one of his past five games … UNLV’s reserves have outscored their foes’ bench players 61-10 in the Rebels’ past two games … no players from Findlay College Prep attended Saturday’s victory over Arizona or Tuesday’s against Southern Utah. The 9-0 Pilots, ranked second in the latest USA Today Super 25 national prep poll, are all out of town on holiday break. Center Carlos Lopez will attend UNLV next season, and 6-7 forward Victor Rudd is high on the Rebels coaches’ wish list … UNLV is off for the holidays until practice resumes Friday. The Rebels play at Louisville at 3 p.m. on New Year’s Eve in a game that will be televised on ESPN2.