Tuesday, Nov. 25, 2008 | 2:10 a.m.
Ryan Greene and Rob Miech discuss UNLV's passing of its first road test of the season Monday night at UTEP. The Rebels were powered by the backcourt trio of Wink Adams, Tre'Von Willis and Oscar Bellfield. Plus, the guys look inside at Lon Kruger's ever-solidifying rotation now that audition time appears to be done.
- Opponent: California
- Where: Thomas & Mack
- When: Friday, Nov. 28, 5 p.m.
EL PASO – For the second time this early season, UNLV sank at least half of its shots in both halves Monday night against Texas-El Paso at the Don Haskins Center.
The Rebels went 13-for-26 in the first half and 13-for-25 in the second, finishing at 51 percent.
Last Thursday in an 87-71 victory over Northern Arizona at the Thomas & Mack Center, UNLV was 18-for-28 in the first 20 minutes and 12-for-23 in the second 20 minutes.
That happened three times last season.
Adams likes what he sees
UNLV senior guard Wink Adams had a sterling evening, tying for game-high honors with 20 points and making his presence felt everywhere in his return to Texas.
Afterward, the Houston native beamed about his team.
“I see that we’re definitely getting better and better,” he said. “It was our first road game … and everyone kept their composure. They went on a little run, and we never got on each other.
“We told each other to makes plays, step up big and make stops. Everyone is on the same page. I think we’ll get better and better.”
The visitors showed poise
UNLV has two new point guards in Oscar Bellfield and Tre’Von Willis, but they played like upper classmen to UTEP senior guard Stefon Jackson.
Throw in seniors Wink Adams, Rene Rougeau, Joe Darger and Mo Rutledge, and Jackson nearly rolled his eyes in a cold tunnel late Monday night.
“That’s a real veteran team,” Jackson said of the Rebels. “In the end, they made us work for every shot, they didn’t take quick shots and they know how to work the clock.”
When UNLV trailed UTEP by 13 in the first half, Rougeau said he had a sense of what was coming.
“There was a feeling that we’d come back,” he said. “They went on a good run, but we had to settled down and play some good defense. Once we got that going, it was downhill from there.”
Playing a team with a 7-foot center named Kareem can be a daunting task.
But that wasn’t UCLA of the late-1960s on Monday night that went up against UNLV.
Kareem Cooper, the 7-foot, 285-pound junior from Washington, D.C., had more personal fouls (four) than points (three) against the Rebels.
Odder still, his points came on one shot, a 3-pointer from the left side that cut the Rebels’ edge to 49-45.
Cooper and Wayne Portalatin only had those three points and four rebounds in a combined 22 minutes.
UNLV’s centers (Darris Santee, Brice Massamba and Beas Hamga) had eight points – all by Santee – and five boards. None of those five post players blocked a shot Monday night.
UNLV plays host to California on Friday night in the Global Sports Classic, then plays either Cincinnati or Florida State on Saturday in the final round of the event at the Thomas & Mack Center.