Wednesday, Feb. 4, 2009 | 2:10 a.m.
Ryan Greene and Rob Miech discuss UNLV's 68-66 overtime loss to San Diego State, a game which was marred by an abundance of foul calls and absent offensive flow. The guys talk about just what the Aztecs did to stymie UNLV's recently consistent offensive attack, plus just how hard it will be for the Rebels to bounce back in The Pit on Saturday night.
Beyond the Sun
- San Diego Union-Tribune: Aztecs' Spain reigns on overtime
San Diego State coach Steve Fisher might not have jumped that high since he played at Illinois State more than 40 years ago.
Fisher, maybe inspired by his athletic players, launched himself near halfcourt in the Thomas & Mack Center after securing the 68-66 victory over UNLV.
It snapped the Rebels’ four-game winning streak and a Mountain West Conference home-court victory stretch that had reached 27 consecutive games.
And for at least 24 hours, it gave San Diego State (16-5, 6-2 in the conference) sole possession of first place in the league.
UNLV (17-5, 5-3) dropped a notch back halfway through the conference schedule. Utah (14-7, 5-2) plays at TCU (13-8, 4-3) on Wednesday night.
“Those were two good teams,” said Fisher, who turns 64 next month. “We guarded extremely well and were fortunate tonight.”
Rebels coach Lon Kruger smiled –- maybe he was surprised by Fisher’s leap? –- as he approached Fisher to shake his hand.
“We had a couple of looks but didn’t get them,” Kruger said. “Their length bothered us on a lot of shots.”
Senior forward Kyle Spain, who powered the Aztecs by scoring eight of their first nine points in the extra session, had a clear view of Adams’s long shot from the right side.
“I was hoping it wouldn’t go in,” Spain said. “It looked good when it came off his fingers, but it came off.”
Spain also had a good look at what disrupted UNLV senior power forward Joe Darger on his last-second 3-pointer that would have won it at the end of regulation.
Tied 59-59, Darger’s bomb from the left corner hit the side of the backboard.
“Billy White contested that shot very well,” Spain said. “Any time a 6-foot-8 athletic kid jumps at you like that … I’d be a little scared, too.”
Darger said, for a moment, he had a good look.
“Then I didn’t,” he said.
Spain led everyone with 17 points and started overtime with a flurry.
He hit a 3-point shot on René Rougeau, then Spain stripped Bellfield of the ball near halfcourt and hit two free throws after Bellfield prevented him from sailing in for an easy layup.
Then Spain nailed a 3-pointer from the top of the key, with Darger lunging at him late, to give SDSU a 67-63 edge.
“I’ve never seen him like that before,” said Aztecs guard Richie Williams. “He was scoring all the buckets for us. He showed a lot of senior leadership. We look to him for that. He played great.”
Darger answered Spain’s second long-range shot with one of his own, from the right side, 23 seconds later to get the Rebels within a point.
With a crowd of 14,137 on its feet, Rougeau blocked Lorrenzo Wade’s shot to ignite a fastbreak that Rougeau couldn’t finish at the other end with 45 seconds left.
Sprinting in from the left side, Rougeau flew in with his right hand. The ball caromed off the glass and rolled off the front of the rim.
“That was a key,” Rougeau said. “I was just going too fast. If anything, I should have taken my time. All we can do is get ready for New Mexico. If anything, this is more motivation for New Mexico.”
UNLV plays the Lobos (14-9, 5-3) at The Pit in Albuquerque on Saturday night.
“It’s definitely a setback,” said Rebels reserve guard Kendall Wallace. “We have to take the loss in a good way. Hopefully it’ll motivate us for the rest of the season.”
SDSU had the motivation, especially on defense, in the first half. It limited UNLV to 28-percent shooting, its second-worst marksmanship all season in the first 20 minutes.
The worst was that 26-percent effort against California in late November, which led to an 18-point drubbing at the Mack.
As has been the case lately, UNLV found itself trailing by double digits in the first half, at 24-14, when Wade missed a jumper and Adams recovered it.
As soon as Adams had a handle on it, though, Spain stripped it back, went up and was fouled by Adams. Spain hit two free throws for that 10-point cushion.
Despite that poor shooting, however, UNLV stormed back to cut its deficit to only 30-28 at halftime. Darger’s 3-pointer from the right side capped that rally.
Longtime Las Vegas native Greg Maddux, a surefire Hall of Fame pitcher who retired from baseball in December after 23 seasons, and a UNLV basketball fan since 1976, was honored at the intermission.
He was given a white UNLV basketball jersey with his name and number, 31, on the back, and he said he hoped the Rebels blew out the Aztecs “by 20” in the second half.
It took more than 13 minutes, but UNLV whittled its way to the lead when Wallace stole a ball and Adams sliced in for a layup.
The Rebels had the advantage, at 52-50, and padded it on Rougeau’s stellar spin and bank shot. Then Rougeau hit a jumper from the free-throw line for a 56-52 lead with 4:38 left.
But UNLV didn’t get another field goal in regulation.
Sophomore guard Tre'Von Willis hit the back end of two free throws with 1:48 left, and Adams sank a pair of free throws with 31 seconds left for a 59-58 lead.
SDSU forward Billy White, a Green Valley High graduate, buried a free throw with 12.7 seconds left but missed the second, with the crowd roaring, to set up Darger’s last-second attempt.
But White scrambled back to throw Darger’s aim off.
Multiple Rebels said the mood in their locker room after the game was quiet. “Very quiet,” one said.
Rougeau wasn’t discouraged, though.
“This was a battle,” he said. “It’s not like they just worked us. It would mean something if it were a poor effort. That would be a different case.”