<
>

UNLV 88, Wyoming 77

LARAMIE, Wyo. (AP) -- High percentage inside shots are always
good reasons to give the ball to a big man. But when the big man
shoots 50 percent from the field and 80 percent from the line,
there's no doubt who the offense should revolve around.

UNLV's Louis Amundson did just that Wednesday night, hitting six
of 12 from the field and eight of 10 from the line. He scored 20
points to lead the Runnin' Rebels to an 88-77 victory over Wyoming
(7-7) in the teams' first game of Mountain West Conference play.

"Louis really started to take over tonight in the second half.
He did a good job getting to the ball, and he really worked hard,"
said UNLV head coach Lon Kruger.

It seemed the rest of the UNLV (7-6) big men worked hard as
well, outscoring the Cowboys 46-26 in the paint.

"Were we as good defensively as we needed to be? No," said
Wyoming head coach Steve McClain. "But tonight was a night where
our offense should have been good enough to carry us, and it
wasn't."

As a team, the Runnin' Rebels shot better than 50 percent from
the field on the night, and the Cowboys just couldn't keep up.

"You dig yourself a hole, and you get tired," McClain said.
"When you fall behind and are playing catch-up, it takes it out of
you. We were fighting from behind the whole game. We cut the lead
to three with about seven minutes to go, but I think fatigue hurt
us. I think having played our third game in the last five days also
added to that fatigue."

That fatigue, and the deficit Wyoming faced in the second half,
forced them to commit fouls down the stretch, and UNLV capitalized.

The Runnin' Rebels were strong from the free-throw line in the
second half, making 14 of 16 attempts, including 10 of 12 in the
final three minutes. Amundson had his best night of the season from
the line, hitting eight of 10 free throws in the game.

The Cowboys went on a 15-6 run capped by a Derek Wabbington dunk
that brought them within 63-60 with 7:22 left, but that was the
closest they would get.

"This group of kids that we have this year understand what we
need to do to win," said Kruger. "They fought in the second half
when Wyoming went on their run, and we were able to hold them off.
Then we went on a run of our own."

Joe Darger and Jason Petrimoulx each scored 14 points for UNLV.
Jo'Van Adams had 12, and Dustin Villepigue scored 11 for the
Runnin' Rebels.

Wyoming was led by Brandon Ewing with 17 points. Kevin Lewis and
Steve Leven each scored 14, and Derek Wabbington added 13 points
and 11 rebounds.

Wyoming's Justin Williams, who ranks second in the nation in
blocked shots per game, had six blocks for the Cowboys.

But for McClain, Williams effort was sub-par next to Amundsons.
"I think Justin Williams has got to step up," he said. "I give
Amundson a lot of credit for their win. He scored 20 and plays so
hard. We really didn't have an answer for him all night."

Amundson scored eight straight points as UNLV went on a 14-2 run
early in the second half, going up 57-45 with 14:42 to play.

UNLV shot better than 50 percent from the field in the first
half, but the Cowboys kept the game close, tying the score four
times in the period. A 7-2 run, highlighted by four points from
Wabbington, was Wyoming's biggest of the half and evened the score
at 26 with 5:16 to go.

UNLV's Darger hit four of four from the field, including two
3-pointers, in the first half. His final 3-point basket of the
period put the Runnin' Rebels up 41-36 at halftime.