A Golden moment for Rebels

What better way to go into Mountain West Conference play this week than riding the momentum of an impressive win over a Big Ten team? That's exactly what UNLV (11-3) will be doing after registering an 81-64 victory over Minnesota (10-2) in Sunday afternoon's final in the Duel in the Desert tournament at the Thomas & Mack Center.

Playing their most impressive 40 minutes of the season, the Runnin' Rebels scored the first eight points of the game en route to a 42-28 halftime lead and led by as many as 22 points (57-35) early in the second half thanks to an impressive 27-6 run.

"I thought we opened with great energy (and) great effort defensively," UNLV head coach Lon Kruger said. "It took a really good Minnesota team and made it tough for them to run a lot of things they do every day in practice. This group has done a very good job of being very disruptive defensively and creating offense from our defense. You add a day where we're making shots and doing things offensively as well and it's a good combination."

UNLV, which made just 4 of its 23 3-point attempts (17.5 percent) a night earlier in a 64-42 win over Nicholls State, nailed 11 of 22 treys (50.0 percent) against the Golden Gophers, including 7 of 14 in the first half.

Junior guard Wink Adams nabbed tourney MVP honors by scoring a game-high 20 points to go along with 7 assists and 5 rebounds. He was joined on the all-tourney squad by senior point guard Curtis Terry (14 points, 4 of 6 3-pointers) and sophomore center Matt Shaw (14 points, 10 rebounds).

"It's really a big lift heading into conference play," Kruger said. "The contrast to the feelings we have right now going into the week of practice coming off of a win versus coming off of a loss … it's really big."

The Rebels open Mountain West play at Colorado State on Saturday afternoon.

"It's a really good starting point heading into conference play," Kruger said. "We've just got to work on getting better each week."

"I think we're in a pretty good spot," Terry said. "We have one more loss than last year at this time (when the Rebels went to the Sweet Sixteen). We got a quality win we think against Minnesota. … I think we're in a great spot heading into conference play."

Shaw and junior forward Joe Darger tooks turns defending Minnesota's physical 6-foot-9, 260-pound center Spencer Tollackson and held him to just six points and one rebound. The Rebels also got key contributions from senior forward Corey Bailey (12 points), junior guard Mo Rutledge (9 points, 3 rebounds) and sophomore point guard Marcus Lawrence (4 steals in 9 minutes).

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