Rebels drop second straight, 67-65

After losing back-to-back home games for the first time since February of 2005, the UNLV Runnin' Rebels are hoping that mother knows best. In this case, mom is Reandre Adams, mother of UNLV star guard Wink Adams.

The UNLV senior had a weekend to forget in the Global Sports Classic, connecting on just 5-of-25 shots (20 percent) from the floor and scoring a two-game total of 15 points, including just five points in Saturday night's 67-65 setback to Cincinnati.

Adams, an 84.8 percent free throw shooter last year as a junior, also missed a key foul shot with 11 seconds remaining that would have tied the game at 65.

Instead of heading into possible overtime, the Rebels were forced to foul to get the ball back because of Adams' big miss. Bearcat forward Mike Williams, a 91 percent free throw shooter, converted both with 6.6 seconds left to increase Cincinnati's lead to three, 67-64.

Rebel point guard Tre'Von Willis, fouled before the Rebels could get off a potential game-tying 3-pointer, made one of two free throws with 3.5 seconds left. Bearcat center Anthony McClain missed the front end of a one-and-one with 2.1 seconds left and Rene Rougeau got the rebound, but his 65-foot Hail Mary at the buzzer wasn't close.

The Rebels suffered back-to-back losses for the first time since Jan. 6 and Jan 10 in 2007 at Air Force and Wyoming. It marked the first time since Feb. 5 and Feb. 7 in 2005 that UNLV dropped back-to-back home games. The Rebels lost in overtime to BYU, 82-72, and followed that up with a 57-53 loss to Utah in Lon Kruger's first year as a head coach.

"It's very frustrating," Adams, the preseason co-Mountain West Conference Player of the Year, said. "I've never been in a slump like this. A lot of shots that I always hit I was missing. Going to free throw line and missing one in the clutch is definitely not me. I've got to get in the gym and get some shots up."

That's where Mama Adams comes in. She's in town until Monday after flying in from Houston to spend Thanksgiving with her son.

"I've just got to get in the gym and put up a lot of shots and shoot myself out of it," Adams said. "Man, if not tonight definitely in the morning. I know my mother is here and she's definitely going to have me in the gym shooting tomorrow. … Hopefully before she leaves I can shoot it out."

"She's been doing it since I've been playing basketball. Whenever I miss a lot of shots she says always tells me that I'm a better shooter and I'm just in a slump. Then she'd take me to a gym and we'd just shoot it out. The next week I'd be back to myself. So it's a good thing that she's here."

UNLV coach Lon Kruger is confident that Adams will be able to turn things around.

"Wink will bounce out of it," Kruger said. "He's got to be aggressive for us. We need him to keep attacking. We need him to do the things he's capable of doing. He'll bounce back and do that. No doubt about that."

Despite the loss, Kruger was much happier with his team's overall performance than the one he saw 24 hours earlier in a 73-55 setback to Cal.

"A much better effort, a much better attack, much better aggressiveness today," Kruger said. "At the critical stages they knocked down a couple of shots and we didn't. They get a little margin there with three minutes to go and really that was the difference. … I liked the fight much better."

On the bright side for the Rebels, senior forward Joe Darger, who came into the contest having made just 2 of his 10 previous 3-point tries, exploded for six treys in nine attempts en route to a team-high 18 points. And sophomore point guard Tre'Von Willis scored a career-high 18 points and dished off five assists.

"Whenever one person is down there are going to be a few others who step up," senior forward Rene Rougeau, who finished with eight points, eight rebounds and four blocks, said. "Joe did a great job tonight. Tre' definitely (had) some big ones in the clutch for us. Everyone just really battled. We definitely came together on defense. We just need to close it out next time."

"I think we're pretty close," Adams said. "I think tonight we did a lot of things real good. We played defense for two halves. We got the shots that we wanted (but) just a lot of them didn't fall. Down the clutch we missed some shots but I think overall we made some big steps as a team."

The Rebels return to action on Wednesday night at Fresno State.

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