Saturday, Feb. 21, 2009 | 10 p.m.
Beyond the Sun
- Salt Lake Tribune: Cougars come up short in Vegas
Final, UNLV wins 75-74
Kendall Wallace made the sellout crowd at the Thomas & Mack Center actually sound like a sellout crowd with back-to-back 3-pointers midway through the second half Saturday, night, and his teammates did the rest, as UNLV completed a regular season sweep of BYU, 75-74.
UNLV improves to 20-7 overall and 8-5 in the Mountain West, while BYU is now 20-6 and 8-4, respectively.
Wallace's first points of the game ignited the 18,000-plus in attendance and gave UNLV a 43-37 edge in a game that had been close all the way up to that point.
Moments later, Wink Adams hit back-to-back threes of his own, the second of which was a response to a Jonathan Tavernari trey on the other end, and it was ultimately the final boost the Rebels needed to atone for Wednesday's loss at Wyoming.
Adams finished with a game-high 22 points, giving him 44 points in two games this season against the Cougars.
UNLV atoned for an 8-of-27 shooting performance in the first half by going 16-of-27 after the break, a performance similar to the highlight-filled second half in Provo back on Jan. 20. The Rebels were also 10-of-24 from 3-point range.
Mo Rutledge had a career-high 13 points off the bench for UNLV, while René Rougeau tallied 12 and Tre'Von Willis chipped in 10. Lee Cummard led the Cougars with 20.
The Rebels face another tough test on Wednesday, traveling to Salt Lake City to face Utah at 7 p.m.
For full postgame coverage, including stories, photos, video, stats and The Rebel Room: Postgame Edition, stay tuned to www.lasvegassun.com/rebels.
3:55, second half, UNLV leads 65-55
Kendall Wallace's threes earlier on only opened the floodgates for a lead that UNLV looks like it won't be letting go of tonight.
Mo Rutledge had a huge and-one following a BYU timeout, and his two recent free throws give him 13 points, making it two Saturdays in a row in which he's registered career-highs in scoring.
But Wink Adams had the most important recent stretch of the game.
He hit a 3-pointer from straight-on to put UNLV up by 12 at 60-48, then after Jonathan Tavernari responded with his own three, Adams hit another one from the corner, and BYU hasn't looked like it's had an ounce of swagger since. Adams did take an ill-advised jumper on the next possession, but that may have come from just simply 'feeling it' at that point. He leads all scorers with 16 points.
UNLV is 15-of-24 from the floor this half, and 7-of-12 from 3-point range.
11:02, second half, UNLV leads 45-39
Welcome back Kendall Wallace.
The UNLV sharpshooter, who's struggled mightily from 3-point range since a bust-out performance at Air Force on Jan. 31, just made the sellout crowd at the Thomas & Mack Center actually sound like a sellout crowd for the first time tonight.
He hit two 3-pointers from the top of the key, both of which with hands in his face, then drove around a ball screen for a diving layup to put UNLV up by six points.
Entering tonight, he was 4-of-19 from 3-point range in five games since a 5-of-9 showing at Air Force.
15:38, second half, UNLV leads 33-28
UNLV took its momentum from the end of the first half and has shot ahead of BYU by five points here early in the second half, 33-28.
Joe Darger hit his third 3-pointer of the game to answer three early Cougar points out of the break, then Wink Adams and Tre'Von Willis hit back-to-back outside jumpers as the Rebels' defensive pressure on Lee Cummard has picked up significantly. He tried to score with a one-on-one matchup against Oscar Bellfield like he did at one point in the first half, but this time, the Rebels helped down to stem the attack.
UNLV, after shooting just 29.6 percent in the first half, is 4-of-7 so far in the second.
Halftime, UNLV leads 23-21
The Rebels scored 7 unanswered points to end the first half, capped by a great dish from Tre'Von Willis to René Rougeau for an inside bucket to end the half. A Joe Darger 3-pointer moments earlier tied the game, 21-21, and Willis held off from shooting a three of his own from the left wing and fired a bullet to Rougeau for an easy two off the glass.
The last few minutes of the half showed the most offensive flow UNLV had throughout the opening stanza. That's awful similar to the game up in Provo last month.
Something you may not have noticed yet are the officials, as Dave Hall's crew has only called 10 fouls so far and the game has had solid stretches of continuous play. We'll see if that holds up for another half. It'd make this game more entertaining.
Here are some more numbers from the first half ...
--After going 0-for-12 from 3-point range in Wednesday's loss at Wyoming, the Rebels went 3-for-11 in the first half this evening. The timeliness of those connections, though, has been the key.
--UNLV had a tough time finding much flow, as I said earlier, and the 5 assists to 8 turnovers so far highlight that.
--The Rebels are winning the rebounding battle so far, 23-18.
--BYU is just 1-of-8 from 3-point range.
--BYU has scored 10 points off of turnovers, while UNLV has yet to score one.
--We thought that free throws could play a big role tonight with this specific officiating crew. Only 6 were attempted in the first 20 minutes. UNLV is 4-of-4, while BYU is 0-for-2.
3:52, first half, BYU leads 19-16
Jonathan Tavernari and Charles Abouo hit back-to-back outside shots from the wing to give the Cougars their first breathing room on the scoreboard tonight, and UNLV has yet to mount a significant response.
The first half tonight is strongly resembling the first half from up in Provo, with UNLV looking a bit lost on offense. Not to throw the kid under the bus, but with Kendall Wallace in the game over the past several minutes, the Rebels didn't do much in terms of trying to attack the basket.
BYU, however, is scoring points in balanced fashion just like it did the first time around.
UNLV so far is just 6-of-23 from the floor, including a 2-of-9 showing from long range. So that hangover from Wednesday has carried a bit. UNLV's turned the ball over 6 times so far, and BYU's registered 8 points off of those chances.
10:01, first half, game tied 12-12
BYU showed several flashes of the up-and-down offensive efficiency which helped it to a 13-point halftime lead up in Provo last month against UNLV, and this time it answered the Rebels' opening run.
After a Tre'Von Willis stepback jumper against Jimmer Fredette, the Rebels claimed a 9-4 lead on the visitors.
But a Jackson Emery layup in transition after stealing a UNLV inbounds pass set off a frantic 6-0 Cougars run. Lee Cummard then scored two while following a Fredette miss on a 2-on-1 break, and Cummard tied it moments later, calling for the ball in the post after detecting a mis-match against Oscar Bellfield. True versatility from the BYU senior wing.
Mo Rutledge answered back with a 3-pointer from atop the key, as he's been UNLV's most reliable deep threat in the past three or four games.
15:53, first half, UNLV leads 4-0
Now this is a college basketball atmosphere.
UNLV and BYU are underway, and the emotion is flowing heavily throughout the Thomas & Mack Center. Tonight's attendance of 18.523 makes it the first sellout crowd at the Mack since Jan. 23, 1993, when the Rebels played Georgetown. The largest attendance before tonight of the Lon Kruger era was 18.069 on March 3, 2007.
René Rougeau and Tre'Von Willis have scored the game's only points so far on inside buckets, and both were the results of hustle for loose balls under the hoop -- Something which was sorely lacking in Wednesday's loss at Wyoming.
The two teams so far are a combined 2-of-13 from the floor, as the defensive intensity is wild on both ends. UNLV has 7 rebounds through 4 minutes.
And already the Sarah Cummard chants are coming from the UNLV student section. Surprise, surprise. Nothing vile that I could hear, yet.
Welcome to what is sure to be a rockin' night at the Thomas & Mack Center, as UNLV and BYU get set for their second regular season meeting, which will tip at 8 p.m.
The first showdown -- a 76-70 Rebels win in Provo on Jan. 20 -- was fun to watch. Up-and-down action, major swings and overall entertaining play.
Don't expect a carbon copy tonight.
Is this a given? No. But the speculation begins with the fact that tonight's game will be officiated by a crew spearheaded by Dave Hall. I know sometimes it seems a bit amateur to mention a game's officiating as much as we tend to when Hall is calling UNLV games. However, the proof is there to indicate that tonight's game could hinge heavily on free throw shooting.
This will be the sixth UNLV game that Hall's called. In the first five, an average of 39.4 personal fouls have been called, most recently the 44 in what turned into a slowed-down slugfest between the Rebels and San Diego State on Feb. 3 at the Mack. UNLV lost that game in overtime, 68-66. Hall & Co. blew the whistles 51 times in the Rebels' 80-67 win at UTEP on Nov. 24.
Now I'm not accusing them of calling things inconsistently. They just call a lot of fouls. A LOT of fouls. Basically, if you're applying a double-team or a trap, avoid sneezing at all costs.
If this one does come down to work at the stripe, UNLV appears to have its work cut out in reversing a recent trend. BYU ranks fourth in the league in team free-throw percentage at 71.1, while UNLV is eighth in the Mountain West at 67.4.
The Rebels are 31-of-50 from the line in their last two games.
Just something to keep in mind.
Now, onto tonight's three big predictions ...
1) Picks to click I'm going with Oscar Bellfield. Miech takes Tre'Von Willis.
2) This game will come down to UNLV taking the consistency out of Jimmer Fredette If the BYU sophomore plays two halves like the first one he played on Jan. 20 (15 points on 6-of-10 shooting), the Rebels could be in trouble. He had a tough time handling the pressure UNLV applied with its smaller lineup in the second half in Provo. If that pressure gets going early, the Rebels could gain an upper hand right off the bat rather than having to claw back from a hefty deficit.
3) Scores I'm taking BYU, 72-68. Rob's going with UNLV, 70-69.