Sunday, Nov. 30, 2008 | 2:08 a.m.
Ryan Greene and Rob Miech discuss what was a somewhat surprising 0-2 weekend for UNLV in the Global Sports Classic, which was capped with a 67-65 loss to Cincinnati on Saturday night. The guys talk about Wink Adams' slump, Joe Darger's hot hand, Tre'Von Willis' emerging leadership, Cincy's post domination and what's next for the Rebels.
Some thoughts ... from the Mack
Rob Miech: “Understandably, this might be a tough one for locals to stomach. For the first time in 28 seasons, UNLV has lost basketball games on back-to-back days. Ouch. All is not lost, however.
“This still is a team with enough fresh faces to warrant a 10-game stretch for them to get accustomed to playing with each other and for coach Lon Kruger to decide on a rotation. It’s always been his stance that players earn themselves minutes and earn spots on the bench, next to him. That has become clearer.
“We won’t name names. He knows who he can count on. It’s also become clearer that Tre’Von Willis is emerging into a force. He took sole possession for Saturday’s loss. No way should he have. There was plenty of blame to go around. For him to do that was huge. Give this team 'til New Year’s Eve, in Louisville, to figure itself out. That will be a benchmark game.”
Ryan Greene: "Like Lon Kruger said afterward, there are positives to take from any game. For UNLV fans, the brightest spots had to be Tre'Von Willis and Joe Darger.
"Willis finished with 18 points, five assists and four assists. He tried his hardest to take the game over and make it his late, and did so for a healthy stretch of the second half with four personal fouls to his name. As for Darger, he had his best shooting night yet this season, connecting on six 3-pointers.
"But Wink Adams' weekend-long slump continued, including a missed free throw with under 10 seconds to go, which could have helped tie it up. Some people might want to hit the panic button, but remember, it's early. Kruger's rotation looks like it's pretty set right now, and it's only a matter of time until things click.
"Plus, don't expect Wink to shoot like that for very long. Great players rarely do, and it hasn't even come close to wrecking his confidence."
Inside the numbers
43: UNLV was outrebounded for the third consecutive game, and for the second time in two days, it was by a pretty healthy margin. Just a day after Cincinnati coach Mick Cronin was disappointed with how all of his big men outside of Mike Williams played, the Bearcats' bigs stepped up with Williams again fighting foul trouble. The Texas transfer was held scoreless and reboundless while playing just six minutes in the first half. In his place, Yancy Gates, Steve Toyloy and Anthony McClain helped pace Cincy to a 43-35 edge on the boards. Gates had 16 points and seven rebounds in just 19 minutes.
10: Cincinnati fired more than its fair share of 3-point attempts, but hit 10 of 28, including two big ones from Alvin Mitchell out of a timeout late in the second half after UNLV regained the lead. Those deep balls keyed a quick 8-0 run, which gave the Bearcats the lead for good.
38.6: While Wink Adams' shooting slump will get most of the pub regarding the team's woes from the floor in the aftermath of Saturday's loss, the Rebels struggled again as a whole. They followed a 19-of-64 showing Friday night with a 22-of-57 performance on Saturday. That's another sub-40 percent clip -- 38.6.
16: It was a do or die type of stat line for Cincinnati's Deonta Vaughn, who scored 16 points for the Bearcats on 5-of-19 shooting, including 4-of-13 efficiency from 3-point range. He had a quick trigger, and on one series in the second half attempted three deep shots on the same possession. But he hit them when they counted, and his up-and-down stat line also consisted of six assists, seven turnovers and four rebounds.
18: Tre'Von Willis continued to cement himself as the team's starting point guard, drawing the nod yet again, going strong for 28 minutes. He played much of the second half with four fouls. He performed better and better as the game progressed, but more than anything showed that he's learning. On one of his second-half buckets, he pulled up in the lane on a coast-to-coast drive and netted a short jumper instead of going all the way to the hole. When doing so earlier, he was called for a charge. Oscar Bellfield scored just one point in 15 minutes off the bench.
Just in case you missed it ...
Cincinnati's big men made a complete 180 from their lackluster showing in Friday night's nine-point loss to Florida State, and played the role of the quiet difference-maker. The Bearcats grabbed 17 offensive rebounds, scored 17 second-chance points and were able to rotate big men in and out throughout the evening. Darris Santee was mobbed when going up for rebounds at times by two bodies as big as his, hence the junior forward being held to four rebounds. Brice Massamba had just one board in 12 minutes off the bench for UNLV.
Also, while René Rougeau is not immune to the offensive struggles that are plaguing the Rebels as a whole right now, the senior swingman yet again filled up the stat sheet like none other. He only scored eight points off 3-of-10 shooting, but had eight rebounds and four blocked shots in 33 minutes on the floor. He was also the only UNLV player to hit all of his free throw tries. He was 2-for-2.
Hopefully you didn't miss it ...
One slump -- that of Wink Adams -- continued, but Joe Darger's appears done. The senior gunner got into that rhythm where it looks like every three-ball that exits his hands is going in. He was 6-of-9 from long range, including two in a second-half run that gave UNLV a brief edge just before Cincinnati ripped off a run of its own. With his shot looking to have more confidence behind it, he also chipped in with three rebounds and two assists.
They said it
Lon Kruger on Wink Adams' late drive to the bucket and his recent slump: "That was the first look, to attack the rim if he had the opportunity. If not, he had some other options behind it, but that was the first look. Wink will bounce out of it. He's got to be aggressive for us, we need him to keep attacking, need him to do the things he's capable of doing, and he'll bounce back and do that, no doubt about that."
René Rougeau on losing back-to-back games at home: "This is the first time, I've never felt like this before. Definitely hurts us, guys are definitely sad in the locker room."
Joe Darger on relating to Wink Adams' slump: "It's frustrating when you go through a slump like that, I think we've all been through them. I think I was in one for awhile, and it's frustrating, because you spend a lot of time getting extra shots after practice, and doing a lot of extra things, it kind of makes it worse. I think every game someone else is gonna step up and play well, but it's definitely not good to have wink in a slump. He's such a huge part of our team and our offense, we just need to get him back."
Wink Adams on his slump: "Very frustrating. This is one serious slump. I've never been in a slump like this. A lot of the shots I was missing, going to the free throw line in the clutch. That's definitely not me."