Runnin' Rebels Keep Rolling
March 6, 1998
LAS VEGAS (AP) - Kevin Simmons scored 21 points, including four in a late spurt that put UNLV ahead, as the Runnin' Rebels beat Fresno State 76-67 Friday night to ruin Jerry Tarkanian's return to the arena his teams helped build.
The win put UNLV, which upset No. 5 Utah the night before, in the finals of the Western Athletic Conference tournament Saturday against No. 20 New Mexico.
It was the fourth loss in five games for Tarkanian at the UNLV campus arena since he became Fresno's coach. While coaching UNLV, Tarkanian was 131-9 in the building.
UNLV trailed 62-60 with 5:10 left when Simmons hit a basket that started an 8-0 run and gave the Rebels the lead for good. Fresno State hit only two more baskets the rest of the game as UNLV ended the game outscoring the Bulldogs 16-5.
The win was the fifth in a row for UNLV (19-12), which is now 7-2 since suspended center Keon Clark left the team for good.
Simmons scored 17 of his points in the second half, in which the lead changed hands five times before UNLV finally went ahead for good on a 3-pointer by Mark Dickel with 4:20 left.
UNLV scored its last 11 points from the free throw line.
Brian Keefe and Tyrone Nesby had 16 points for UNLV, while Terrance Roberson led Fresno with 24.
Tarkanian coached from his spot on the bench where he ran the Runnin' Rebels during their heyday. Fresno State was even the home team in the game, but this time the crowd was cheering for the visitors.
UNLV, with Brian Keefe scoring 15 first half points, jumped to an early lead and led by as many as 13 points midway through the half. But Fresno came back behind Chris Herren, who scored seven of his team's final nine points of the half, to pull to within four points at halftime.