Rebels Upset No. 20 Wolf Pack, 58-49
Dec. 10, 2006
RENO, Nev. (AP) - Back in its glory years, UNLV used to run past its overmatched rival Nevada. This time, the Runnin' Rebels knocked off the much taller Wolf Pack with intense defense.
Wendell White scored 12 points and Wink Adams added six of his nine points in the final 2:45 Saturday night to help the Rebels (7-2) to a 58-49 victory, snapping previously undefeated No. 20 Nevada's 12-game home winning streak.
It was the Rebels' first win over a ranked team on the road since they won at New Mexico 86-74 on Feb. 25, 1991, the year UNLV finished 34-1 under coach Jerry Tarkanian with a loss to Duke in the NCAA championship game.
"This was huge for us," said Kevin Kruger, the Rebels' senior point guard and son of coach Lon Kruger who finished with nine points, seven assists and two steals. "We want to get the UNLV program back to the way it was in the glory years," he said.
UNLV had 14 steals and forced 21 total turnovers while holding Nevada (7-1) to 35 percent shooting from the field. The Wolf Pack, which entered the game ranked sixth in the NCAA with 46 percent shooting from 3-point range, made only 1-of-15 from behind the arc in front of a sellout crowd of 11,536 at the Lawlor Events Center.
"We're a small team compared to other teams," Adams said. "And that's why we work on our defense. We've been working really hard on playing defense for 40 minutes."
Nick Fazekas, playing with bruised ribs, had 16 points and 17 rebounds, but was held to only four points in the second half for Nevada. Ramon Sessions scored all 16 of his points in the second half for the Wolf Pack, who pulled to within six points in the final minutes after trailing by as many as 21.
"Their defensive pressure really disrupted us and got us out of rhythm. And the ball didn't go in," Nevada coach Mark Fox said. "But turnovers were the major factor in the game."
White had nine rebounds and Essengue added 10 points on 5-for-5 shooting for UNLV, which outscored its rival 17-3 the last 8 minutes of the first half then made 4-of-4 free throws the last 28 seconds of the game to seal the victory.
"Our guys really fought, especially in the first half," coach Kruger said. "Offensively, that is probably the best 20 minutes of the year in terms of getting the ball where we wanted to."
"I thought we made (Fazekas) work for everything. He's going to get his points. He's a great player," Kruger said. "We did a good job of getting underneath there and getting some steals."
The Wolf Pack had beaten their rivals the last three times but UNLV leads the all-time series 49-19.
Trailing 46-25 with 14:57 left, Nevada went on a 17-2 run capped by Sessions' one-handed floater in the lane to pull to within 48-42 with 4:03 left.
Adams scored inside but Fazekas countered with his first basket of the second half to make it 50-44 at 2:28.
Sessions stole the ball and called time out at 1:45, but Marcelus Kemp stepped out of bounds under pressure in front of Nevada's bench and Adams followed with a 12-footer from the baseline to put UNLV up 54-45 with 41 seconds left.
"I'm never scared to take a shot," Adams said.
Sessions made a layup in traffic and was fouled but missed the free throw 6 seconds later, and Adams and Kevin Kruger both made two free throws down the stretch to seal the win.
Nevada, which was off to its best start since 1951-52, had won 21 of its last 22 games dating to last season. It was only their sixth loss at home in 54 games since 2003-04.
"We've kind of been relying on our offense for these last seven wins and tonight we weren't offensively fit," Fazekas said. "The ball just wasn't going down for us and our defense wasn't good enough."
Leading 22-19, the Rebels went on a 13-0 run late in the first half, including Curtis Terry's desperation 25-foot pointer as the shot clock expired and Anthony's slam dunk after Nevada's 10th turnover, to make it 35-21 at 3:19.
JaVale McGee's basket on a rebound ended the Wolf Pack's drought, but White followed a 3-pointer with a 15-foot jumper for a 39-22 halftime lead.
Adams opened the second half with a 3 and Essengue - who had nine rebounds - followed a short jumper with a 19-footer to put UNLV ahead 46-25 with 14:57 remaining.