Rebels dig deep to sack the Pack, 64-57

RENO -- After a sloppy and uninspiring first half performance against in-state rival Nevada, the UNLV Runnin' Rebels didn't need any fancy halftime speeches from head coach Lon Kruger to spark a major second half turnaround.

"More than anything else, we lit into ourselves," senior guard Rene Rougeau said after UNLV (7-2) rallied for a 64-57 victory over the Wolf Pack at the Lawlor Events Center. "Coach has been talking to us all the time. It was time for us to start talking. Everyone did a good job of talking. … More than anything else, it came from the players tonight."

"Tonight we kind of dug deep and found a way to win a game," senior guard Wink Adams added. "It was a great team effort."

UNLV opened the second half with a 19-7 run to take a 39-29 lead. Nevada (3-4) closed to within four points, 42-38, on a drive by point guard Armon Johnson with 8:06 remaining but freshman guard Oscar Bellfield quickly silenced the crowd of 9,498 with a 3-pointer that extended UNLV's lead to seven, 45-38. The Wolf Pack never got any closer than five points after that.

Two players in particular stepped up for the Rebels in this one. Rougeau, who almost single-handily kept his team in the game in the first half, finished with 19 points and 13 rebounds while Bellfield added 17 points, including all four of his 3-point attempts in the second half.

That was more than enough for a stingy Rebel defense that held the Wolf Pack to just 34.0 percent shooting (17-of-50) and held a 42-33 rebounding edge.

"I feel real good about the win," UNLV coach Lon Kruger said. "A very tough place. I like Coach Fox's club. Any time you can come into an environment like that and figure out a way to win, even though it wasn't pretty on either side, feel awfully good about that."

"It felt really good," Rougeau said. "Guys were playing really good defense. … I think we made a big step with defense tonight. We did a great job with rebounding tonight."

"Second half we made better plays for each other," Kruger said. "I thought we moved the ball well. We created opportunities for each other. It was probably as good a stretch as we've had in a while.

"Oscar made some big plays. Rene made some big plays. Wink got a couple drives down. In the second half I thought we were a lot more aggressive and a lot more on the attack."

The Rebels trailed by just two points at halftime, 22-20, despite shooting just 32.0 percent (8 of 25) from the floor, committing an uncharacteristic 10 turnovers and having their top player, Adams, on the bench for the final 14:50 after quickly picking up two fouls.

"Yeah, that's the longest I've ever sat out (in a first half)," Adams said. "I came in overly aggressive and got two quick fouls."

Adams, who didn't score a point in the first half, finished with 11 points and six rebounds but was just 2-of-8 from the floor.

Bellfield, a 6-foot-2 freshman from Westchester High in Los Angeles, picked up a big chunk of the offensive slack with five treys in seven attempts.

"He has ice in his veins," Rougeau said. "He hit a few big three's down the (stretch) for us. He continues to play hard and get better every day."

"Those were big three's," Bellfield admitted. "Teammates got me open. They left me wide open a couple times. I had to knock them down."

UNLV now has eight days off for final exams before hosting Western Michigan at the Orleans Arena on Sunday, Dec. 14.

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