Sunday, Feb. 22, 2009 | 2:33 a.m.
Ryan Greene and Rob 'The Wise Owl' Miech discuss UNLV's slim 75-74 victory over BYU on Saturday night at the Mack, fueled by the super-sub efforts of Kendall Wallace and Mo Rutledge, plus the Rebels' largest home crowd since 1993. Also, an unfriendly welcome for Mrs. Cummard and where the up-and-down Rebels go from here.
Beyond the Sun
- Salt Lake Tribune: Cougars come up short in Vegas
Yes, UNLV fans, Wink Adams knew what was at stake when he snatched Rene Rougeau’s half-court inbounds lob like a wide receiver.
As he controls the ball after catching it, for a millisecond, Adams glanced up at the rim. For someone who has never dunked as a Rebel, this was Utopia.
Parts of the first Thomas & Mack sellout crowd in 16 years seemed to rise and gasp in anticipation of the landmark throw-down.
Reandre Adams, known as “Mama Wink” throughout Houston, was undoubtedly watching the youngest of her two sons from her living room in Texas.
But Wink, the Rebels’ senior shooting guard, kept calm and composed. He listened to teammates barking at him to bleed the final few seconds off the clock, so he darted under the basket and out to the left wing.
“I was definitely thinking it,” he said of the much-anticipated dunk. “But with just three seconds left, my teammates said to run out the clock. I put my head down and ran around the court like a chicken with his head cut off.”
The final regular-season game for the Rebels, which is Senior Night and will be attended by Mama Wink, is March 4 against Air Force.
Adams has planned to put on a show for her.
“When I safely caught it, I definitely wanted to score the ball,” he said. “But I did the smart thing, running out the clock. (The Cougars) were hitting ‘threes,’ so I definitely had to run out the clock.
“It was probably my only open chance to do it. Hopefully, I get a chance against Air Force.”
And yes, UNLV fans, BYU senior guard Lee Cummard heard those chants when he went to the free-throw line.
In general, at first, he said Saturday night’s sellout crowd was sensational.
“I just think they’re good fans,” Cummard said. “They come out and support, get loud … they have that ‘Rebel’ chant late in games. You hear it. It’s a great college environment for basketball.”
Twenty seconds into the second half, he stepped to the line for the first time and a large portion of the student section – at the other end of the court – chanted “Psy-cho Sar-ah!”
Cummard’s wife, Sarah, was in the center of a few storms after UNLV beat BYU in the league tournament title game at the Mack last season. More than words were exchanged, according to some reports, between her and Rebels fans.
Saturday night, Cummard made that first free throw but missed his second attempt.
“I did,” he said, when asked if he heard that chant.
What did he think?
“I sunk two free throws late in the game,” he said.
With 1:33 left, Cummard converted both free throws to cut BYU’s deficit to 68-62.
A few BYU fans, sitting behind the Cougars’ bench, wore “Fear the Ears” T-shirts with Cummard’s No. 30 on them Saturday.
Fredette makes foes fret
Scoring only four points in the first 5 1/2 minutes of a game, like UNLV did against BYU, doesn’t lend itself to the full-court, trapping press that the Rebels favor.
Clamping down on foes after they make shots is the design of that scheme. If shots aren’t being made, that strategy is weakened.
Still, when UNLV did press and trap the Cougars, they mostly handled it with no problems. That, Adams said, was because of BYU sophomore floor general Jimmer Fredette.
“To me, he’s one of the best point guards in the conference,” Adams said. “He can pass, score, get to the bucket … to contain him, you have to be quick. He’s breaking it pretty easily.
“It’s definitely something we have to work on. He’s a great point guard.”
Around the Mountain West
In the league's other marquee Saturday matchup, New Mexico thumped San Diego State, 75-49, in Albuquerque to improve to 8-4 in MWC play. SDSU dropped to 8-4, which puts the two schools in a tie for second place with BYU.
The Lobos were led by 25 points from Tony Danridge, while the Aztecs never seemed to emotionally recover from the loss of sophomore forward Billy White, a Green Valley High grad.
White went down in a heap in the game's first minute after colliding with New Mexico's Roman Martinez. He returned to the bench in the second half with crutches and a wrap around his knee. He'll have an MRI on Sunday morning.
White, who is averaging 9.3 points and 4.1 rebounds per game for SDSU, was 20-of-21 from the floor in his previous three games.
Elsewhere, Wyoming built off of its Wednesday night home victory over UNLV by dispatching TCU, 61-56, in Laramie. Tyson Johnson and Brandon Ewing combined to score 35 points for Wyoming.
The win improved the Cowboys to 12-1 on their home floor this season and 5-7 in the league, while TCU continues to slide. Losers of seven of their last eight, the Horned Frogs are now 5-8 in the MWC.
In the day's final game, Colorado State won at Air Force, 71-66, behind 20 points from Marcus Walker. The win snapped the Rams' 19-game road conference losing streak.
CSU, which went winless in the conference last season, is now 4-9, while Air Force appears to have taken the baton from the 2007-08 Rams and is now 0-13 with Wyoming, UNLV and BYU left on the schedule.
Utah, who at 10-2 is atop the league standings by two games, was idle on Saturday and will play host UNLV in Salt Lake City at 7 p.m. on Wednesday.
UNLV senior power forward Mo Rutledge went 2-of-3 from 3-point range, making him 17-of-26 (65.4 percent) from long distance in conference play ... Adams's 22 points bumped his career total to 1,812, putting him six points behind Larry Anderson (1979-83) for seventh place on the school's all-time scoring list. Next up after Adams is Armon Gilliam (’84-87) at 1,855 ... sophomore guard Tre'Von Willis's 26 minutes due to foul trouble were the fewest he's played since recording 26 against Colorado State on Jan. 14 … Dustin Villepigue, a power forward who played at UNLV three and four seasons ago, attended the game after his pro team in Mexico bowed out of the playoffs. Friday, his agent called to tell him of an imminent offer in the Czech Republic next week. “Should I not go to Las Vegas?” Villepigue said … about that Wyoming trip. Riley Wallace, the former longtime coach at Hawaii and Rebels guard Kendall Wallace’s great-uncle, said he always nixed that game from his memory. He said it never had any ramifications on how he judged his players, because of the altitude and difficulty in getting there. The one time his squad played well was when the team’s bus skidded off the highway after hitting a patch of black ice and was stranded out in the cold until 3 a.m.