With Sunday afternoon's big showdown with Minnesota on the horizon, the UNLV Runnin' Rebels (10-3) jumped out to a quick 19-3 lead and then methodically went about dispatching of Nicholls State, 64-42, in the Duel in the Desert round-robin tournament.
Junior guard Wink Adams (13 points, 5 rebounds in 22 minutes) was the only Rebel starter to play more than 17 minutes as UNLV jumped out to a 35-11 halftime lead. That allowed UNLV head coach Lon Kruger to experiment with different lineups in the second half. The Rebels also refrained from using their trapping full-court press even though the Colonels had struggled badly against Minnesota's pressure a night earlier. Instead, UNLV settled into mainly a 2-3 zone for much of the second half.
No need to show too much -- or for that matter work up much of a sweat -- with Sunday afternoon's much anticipated finale with the Golden Gophers (9-1) on deck.
"Tonight our whole thing was just to work on what we need to work on and just get better," Adams said. "Nicholls State is not a team that we took for granted. They went to North Carolina and only lost by 10. We knew they were a team that could put it in the basket.
"These last two games it has been just working on the basics … our fundamental defense, running our plays, just trying to get better as a team and get our chemistry together. I think these last two games really helped us out a lot."
The Rebels held Nicholls State to just four field goals and 11 points in the first half. UNLV's records don't list a mark for fewest first half points allowed in a game but this one had to be close.
"A game in which we got off to a good start," Kruger said. "The energy and the enthusiasm and the effort was good at the start. Any time you give up 11 points in a half you feel pretty good about that of course."
Both teams shot the ball poorly and ironically both were a pitiful 4 of 23 (17.4 percent) from 3-point range. The Rebels made up for that by outrebounding the Colonels, 49-31.
Adams led UNLV in scoring followed by sophomore center Matt Shaw (12 points, 6 rebounds) and senior forward Corey Bailey (11 points in just 16 minutes).
UNLV cruises past Nicholls State, 64-42
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