UNLV hoops notebook: Findlay players a presence at the Mack

Bears Take It to Rebels

Cold shooting by UNLV helped California beat the Rebels 73-55 Friday night in the semifinals of the Global Sports Classic.

UNLV vs. California

Brice Massamba of UNLV forces a shot up over Max Zhang of California Friday at the Thomas & Mack Center. Launch slideshow »
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Darris Santee of UNLV gets boxed out by Jorge Gutierrez (left) and Jamal Boykin of California Friday at the Thomas & Mack Center.

The Rebel Room

CAL POSTGAME: Shooting woes spring back

Ryan Greene and Rob Miech talk about UNLV's 73-55 loss to Cal in the Global Sports Classic on Friday night, as the the Rebels dropped their first game of the season thanks to 19-of-64 shooting.

Findlay College Prep players were all over the Thomas & Mack Center on Friday night in the Global Sports Classic.

During the early-evening game, when California blasted UNLV by 18 points, former Findlay teammates became reunited in the second half.

Rebels center Brice Massamba converted a power move for a close basket to cut his team’s deficit to 54-36, and in an instant he was on the floor.

Golden Bears freshman guard Jorge Gutierrez fell on top of Massamba. Gutierrez quickly helped the 6-foot-10, 255-pound center back on his feet.

Both helped the Findlay Pilots go 32-1 last season.

“It’s hard, but I’m working hard,” Gutierrez said of his transition to Division-I basketball and academics at Cal. “I like it. I like to play hard. I just love to play basketball.”

UNLV fans might not like to hear this, but Findlay senior power forward Carlos Lopez sat in a baseline seat and cheered when Gutierrez did well. Former teammates are like that.

Pilots junior post player Godwin Okonji, and several other Findlay players, sat around Lopez to watch the two games.

In the nightcap, Florida State improved to 6-0 with a 58-47 victory over Cincinnati.

Deividas Dulkys, the Seminole with the 39-inch vertical leap who was a part of Findlay’s outstanding 2007-08 campaign, hit a 3-pointer during his nine minutes of action.

Massamba had three points and an offensive rebound during his 10 minutes of UNLV’s poor effort.

Gutierrez went 4-for-7 from the field, canning the lone 3-point shot he attempted, for a career-best 10 points and he grabbed five rebounds in 17 minutes.

The spark plug from Chihuahua, Mexico, was a late get for new Cal coach Mike Montgomery, but both seem happy with the arrangement.

“I’m really comfortable at Cal,” Gutierrez said.

Montgomery said he had a player de-commit late in the spring, so he had to scramble. He said Findlay coach Mike Peck told him that he had “a winner” in Gutierrez.

“We looked around for what we thought was the best available player,” Montgomery said. “We all concluded that he was it. We just love him. He loves to compete. He’s very quiet.

“We’ve been very pleased. I think we came up big on the deal.”

In particular, Montgomery appreciates that Gutierrez is tough.

“For me, that meant a lot,” he said. “Kids love him, and he’s just getting better and better. I think he’s very excited to have the opportunity to go to Cal. He’s very humble.

“The fact that he was able to get recruited to come to Cal and play in the Pac-10, he was very appreciative. You’ve got to like that, too.”

Wardrobe check

Wasn’t even close Friday. Steve “Chopper” Jones, this was your night.

The dark slacks, neutral dress shirt and lavender-ish striped tie powered Jones to his first win over the rest of the UNLV players who wore street clothes.

The standings: Chace Stanback 3, Matt Shaw 1 and Jones 1.

Stanback wore jeans and an aqua Polo shirt Friday, but he’s been sick. Dressing down suited the occasion. Nobody else came close to matching Jones.

Jones is eager to win the season.

Tough night for trio

Wink Adams, Joe Darger and Rene Rougeau – the seniors who UNLV coach Lon Kruger relies upon – combined to shoot 6-for-30 against Cal, for 21 points.

“Cal had a lot to do with that,” Kruger said. “ … their attacking got us on our heels … their aggressiveness was a big factor.”

Free throws

Sophomore guard Tre’Von Willis, who has started at the point in three consecutive games, had an assist and four turnovers against Cal. Willis wanted a 4-1 assists-to-turnovers ratio this season, at 17-14. As a starter, Willis has a 6-8 ratio … Kruger and Montgomery, with nearly 1,000 victories between them, obviously go way back. Before the game Kruger shook Montgomery’s hand, and Montgomery pointed to his wife, Sarah, sitting behind the Cal bench. Kruger motioned to behind the UNLV bench, where his wife, Barb, always sits. Sarah seemed to gesture that she either knew where Barb would be sitting or that they had already talked. Then, Montgomery’s squad smoked Kruger’s.

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