Wink leaves Cowboys seeing double-double

LARAMIE – As they finished their warm-ups here at Arena-Auditorium, UNLV coaches and players could be seen sneaking peaks at the scoreboard where the end of New Mexico's 72-71 victory at Utah was being shown. Suddenly, the Runnin' Rebels didn't need a win over Wyoming just to keep pace with first place BYU but to also maintain sole possession of second place in the Mountain West.

And thanks in great part to the second double-double of junior guard Wink Adams' career, UNLV (20-6, 9-3) did just that with a methodical 73-65 victory over the Cowboys (10-16, 3-10).

The win kept the Runnin' Rebels a game ahead of red-hot New Mexico (22-6, 9-4). UNLV, which plays three of its final four games at the Thomas & Mack Center, still must play the Lobos in Albuquerque on March 4.

"This game was huge, and I think we knew that coming in," sophomore center Matt Shaw said. "Coach (Lon Kruger) stressed it all week to put pressure on ourselves to come in and get the victory, and we did it." Adams led the way with 23 points and 10 rebounds. It was the second double-double of his career. He also had one (17 points, 10 rebounds) last year at Utah.

"Wink made a lot of plays," Kruger said. "I think they gave him four assists but it seemed like he made a lot of good plays more than that. (He) made shots, made good plays for others. Did a good job."

"It's always good to get a double-double," Adams said. "I'm only 5-10, so it feels good."

With the flu bug going through the team for the second straight week, Adams said he felt he had to "do a little more than I usually do. Rene (Rougeau), Troy (Cage) and Joe (Darger) were (all) sick, and Curtis (Terry) had a groin injury in practice …"

The Rebels also got key contributions from guard Rougeau (16 points, 5 rebounds) and Shaw (12 points, 4 blocks). And Terry, despite being slowed by the groin injury that forced him to miss practice on Thursday and Friday, appeared to snap out of a month-long shooting slump by sinking three of his four 3-point attempts after intermission.

"I thought a lot of guys stepped up and made shots at critical times," Kruger said. "That helped us develop a bit of a margin there in the second half that we played with the majority of the second half."

The Rebels led by as many as 17 points on three different occasions in the second half, the last time, 65-48, after Shaw nailed an 18-footer with 7:45 remaining.

The victory also means UNLV hits the 20-win plateau for the second straight season, quite an accomplishment considering three players that were expected to be key contributors during a rebuilding year – center Emmanuel Adeife, forward Lamar Roberson and backup point guard Marcus Lawrence – are no longer on the team.

"And it's our ninth conference win," Kruger said. "That's even more important."

Especially with New Mexico hot on their tail.

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