‘Not tonight'

LUBBOCK – Junior swingman Curtis Terry said UNLV's basketball team had one simple goal heading into Thursday night's nationally televised game here against Texas Tech. "We didn't want to be the team that got beat for the record," Terry said referring to Red Raider head coach Bob Knight's quest to surpass Dean Smith as the winningest coach in Division I basketball history.

"The motto we lived by was, ‘Not tonight.' We weren't going to let it happen."

They didn't.

The Runnin' Rebels (12-2) shot 44.0 percent from 3-point range and led by as many as 19 points midway through the second half before holding on for a 74-66 victory over the Red Raiders (10-4) in front of a sellout crowd of 15,098 at the United Spirit Arena.

Knight, who remains tied with Smith with 879 career victories, will now have to wait until next year to break the record. Texas Tech next hosts New Mexico on New Year's Day morning.

UNLV, which extended its winning streak to eight in a row, won despite an uncharacteristic 18 turnovers, including six each by guards Kevin Kruger and Wink Adams. But the Rebels held a big edge in 3-point shooting, connecting on 11 of 25 attempts (44.0 percent) while Tech sank just 1 of 12 treys (8.3 percent). UNLV also held a surprisingly big 36-28 edge on the boards against the bigger Red Raiders.

"I thought when we were preparing for this game that UNLV was the best defensive team that we had played, and nothing happened to change my mind," Knight said. "They are a very, very well-coached team."

When asked about having to wait at least another game to break the record, Knight replied: "No, I haven't been interested in that from day one and I'm not interested in that now. All I'm interested in is our team playing well, and we did not play well."

The Rebels, meanwhile, seemed to thrive in the national spotlight, hitting five of their first eight treys en route to a 32-23 halftime advantage.

UNLV extended the lead to 53-34 on a 3-pointer by Kruger with 13:13 left in the game. But Texas Tech, aided in strong part by some unusually sloppy ballhandling by Kruger and Adams, managed to cut the deficit to six, 70-64, with 41.5 seconds left on a tip-in by Decensae White.

"I was playing like I had never played before," Kevin Kruger said. "That was terrible. I'd throw a pass and then kick myself right after I threw it. Those are plays I had never made before in my life."

The Red Raiders never got any closer, however, as Kruger (21 points) redeemed himself by sinking six consecutive free throws down the stretch.

Terry (12 points, 4 of 5 3-pointers), senior guard Michael Umeh (10 points) and senior center Gaston Essengue (eight points, 11 rebounds, three steals) also had big games for the Rebels.

"This is a big, big win for us," Umeh said. "We knew coming in that there was going to be a big stage. We were real excited coming in to try and get a win."

"It was a great atmosphere," Terry said. "National television, a sellout crowd. It was a lot of fun."

"It feels good to win," Kevin Kruger said. "I don't think anybody in the history of sports or competition has ever gotten bored with winning."

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