Rebels grind out another victory

No Kevin Kruger. No Wendell White. Just 22 percent shooting from the floor in the first half, including 0 for 11 from range. It all added up to a loss for UNLV against defending conference champion San Diego State on Tuesday night at the Thomas & Mack Center, right? Wrong.

The Runnin' Rebels (17-4, 4-2), behind a 20-point second half by sophomore guard Wink Adams and their usual solid defense, rallied to defeat the Aztecs, (13-7, 2-4), 68-61.

The Rebels, who seemingly couldn't make a layup in the first 20 minutes, shot an amazing 72.7 percent (8 of 11) from 3-point range after intermission and led by as many as 13 points, 50-37, before holding off a late Aztec comeback.

The 17 wins matches UNLV's total for the entire 2005-06 season … and it's not even February.

"Last year we just won 17 games and right now we've already won 17 games," Adams said. "That's a big step up from last year. We've still got a lot of games to go. We're going to take them one game at a time and hopefully our goal is to be playing later on in March."

Adams was 0 for 8 from the floor in the first half but nailed 6 of his 8 attempts after intermission, including all four of his treys.

"I just play," Adams said when asked if he thought he might have a big second half. "My team knows that when I get in a zone. …"

"This team feels good about what they're doing," UNLV coach Lon Kruger. "I think they're really trusting each other, especially on the defensive end. They're making some good plays offensively, too. Confidence I think is the most important ingredient in athletics. Obviously you have to have skill and you've got to have the other things that go with it. But it's hard to do anything without a degree of confidence. And this group right now has a pretty high degree (of confidence.)"

UNLV also got key performances from center Joel Anthony (9 points, 8 rebounds, 4 blocks) and point guard Marcus Lawrence (8 points, 3 assists, 3 steals).

San Diego State, which learned before prior to game-time that 6-10 forward Mohamed Abukar (15.7 ppg, 5.9 rpg) would not play because of a sore left knee, was led by guard Brandon Heath's 20 points.

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