Fouls, poor shooting sink Rebels, 75-56

OMAHA – UNLV coaches and players knew going into Saturday's Midwest Regional second round game with No. 1 seed Kansas that the Rebels would have to shoot the ball well to have a good chance at an upset. They didn't, bringing the curtain down on a season that might be best described as "overachieving."

The Runnin' Rebels (27-8) shot a miserable 26.7 percent (12-of-45) from the floor and made a grand total of just four field goals in the second half en route to a 75-56 loss to the Jayhawks (33-3) before a sellout crowd of 17,162 at the Qwest Center.

Despite the poor shooting, the Rebels managed to make it interesting for about 28 minutes, trailing by just five points, 46-41, with 12:20 to go.

But starters Joe Darger and Rene Rougeau both fouled out in the next five minutes and an already thin squad was down to the bare numbs. The talented, athletic and deeper Jayhawks then went for the kill, going on a 24-10 run to blow the game open.

The Rebels made just 4-of-18 shots in the second half, two of them on drives by junior guard Wink Adams who finished with a game-high 25 points, including a Qwest Center record 15 free throws in 17 attempts. The only perimeter baskets came on 3-pointers by Darger and senior guard Curtis Terry.

"Our first-shot defense was really great when we didn't foul them, which was every other possession," Kansas coach Bill Self said alluding to his team's 26 fouls and UNLV's 37 free throw attempts. "I thought it was a good, solid, grind–it-out win. … They missed some looks that they probably normally make."

"Our shots just weren't falling tonight," said Adams, who was just 5-of-13 from the floor, including 0-for-3 from behind the arc. "I thought we could have shot a better percentage but it was one of those nights when guys weren't shooting very hot."

UNLV's 26.7 shooting percentage was not a season low. The Rebels connected on just 25.0 percent of their shots in their 68-48 home loss to Louisville on Nov. 21.

"You know, Kansas is as a whole a great defensive club," Adams said. "Watching them all year on TV, they stress defense just like we do. They have some 6-foot-8 guys that shot up the ball very well and they defend well. They can come out and defend guards. Tonight their length was very effective against us and kind of had our shooting percentage down."

Although it wasn't obviously the way the Rebels had hoped to end their season, the fact the squad managed to overcome the loss of five key seniors as well as three mid-season defections from expected contributors meant this Rebel team will be viewed as overachievers by most.

"This group maintained and really solidified what we're after," UNLV coach Lon Kruger said.

"It turned into a great ride we went on in winning the conference tournament and beating a good Kent State team and having a chance to take on Kansas," Terry said. "It's a great experience that we went through and the way we did it and nobody thinking we were going to be able to do the things we did this year that we did last year.

"For the future I see nothing but great things, definitely. I'm kind of disappointed I won't be able to have a role in it like I had in the past four years, but I'm definitely going to be their biggest fan and always rooting fore them and cheering them on. They're going to keep on going farther and farther in the tournament every year."

Inside the Rebels Top Stories