LAS VEGAS -- Second-seeded UNLV won its second straight Mountain West Conference tournament title with a 76-61 victory over No. 1 BYU, but the postgame ceremony was marred by numerous fights breaking out in the stands.
LAS VEGAS -- The 2008 Mountain West Conference Tournament championship game will have a familiar feel.
No. 1 BYU will play No. 2 UNLV tomorrow night in a rematch of last year's title game. The Rebels just held off No. 6 Utah 61-55 in the second semifinal tonight in front of their home fans at the Thomas & Mack Center.
LAS VEGAS -- BYU has received some offense from an unlikely source to take a 38-36 lead with 12:21 remaining in the game.
Sophomore forward Chris Miles has nearly tripled his season average in the last three minutes. He has scored BYU's only three baskets from the field in that span. Miles is averaging only 2.5 points per game.
LITTLETON, Colo. -- UNLV head coach Lon Kruger had bypass surgery on Aug. 2, but says he's feeling fine. Kruger discovered his heart troubles during a routine stress test, and had six bypasses performed.
When it was all said and done, their fans rushed the floor, the players stood on top of the officials table and after numerous requests for the fans to leave the floor, nobody listened and nobody cared. Instead, all is well in Sin City tonight as UNLV pulled off the second upset of the day here at the Thomas & Mack Center, 78-70.
The Rebels did not take their first lead of the game until 5:33 in the second half and it was only by one, but it was their ability to hold onto this lead even when BYU came to within three at 1:55 to go that made all of the difference.
Leading the way for this scrappy UNLV team that never game up was Michael Umeh with 18 points and seven rebounds. He was followed by Wink Adams with 15 points and Gaston Essengue
On the other end, the Cougars just couldn't get momentum to swing back in their direction. BYU's Keena Young led all scores with 34 points and was followed by Lee Cummard with 13. BYU’s big man on the board was Cummard who finished with a double-double from 13 rebounds.
With this win, UNLV rides high on a seven game win streak into the NCAA tournament with the automatic bid. In addition, the Rebels claim their 10th conference tournament title.
Alright, forget the dance routines, shoting baskets for thousands of dollars or free pizza, nobody knows how to do halftime entertainment like the MWC.
There are two shirtless, and very nicely built, men doing contortionist moves on and with each other at center court and I have to believe that they are from one of the Cirque du Soleil shows. I just hope the half of this crowd who are homophobic don't develop a complex from this brilliant performance of strength, agility and balance and go up and drink off the images of these two guys.
It's not in every arena or at any college basketball game where you can buy all forms of alcohol.
That is except for if you are the Thomas & Mack Center.
This is where the bars, and I'm not just talking about the kind of bar that only has a beer tap, come close to outnumbering the food stands. The bars up on the concourse level are fully stocked with everything you can imagine. There are even a couple of bars that look like they could be in a casino.
The combination of the alcohol with the firery nature of the fans, especially those sitting right behind me, gives me great comfort in my safety during this game. Sure I am the only female member of the print media and you would think that there would be someone along here who would help me out if need be, but after one of the BYU coaches who was scouting last night's UNLV vs. CSU got territorial over a seat that my laptop was in front of and my gluteus maximus had been planted in for the previous couple of hours, I know that I am all on my own.
Oh, there's also information tables on timeshare purchasing and a promotion to win private lessons from Nick Faldo also available for anyone who is interested.
Stay tuned, we're halfway through the first half and BYU is enjoying a comfortable 24-13 lead...
With Nascar in town, I thought this was the only way to start of my final blog for the weekend.
It's time for the MWC men's championship game and the second half of the BYU double header as the BYU women just fell to New Mexico in their championship match-up.
As both No. 1 seed BYU and No. 2 seed UNLV are big physical teams, this should be a good game. If UNLV can control the boards and take not only the BYU trees, but their guns from the outside in check, the Running Rebels may have a chance which will make their fans, even in the very last row of the arena happy.
The UNLV played 'Viva Las Vegas' a few minutes ago, so get ready to be entertained.
The fat lady has belted out her last note and UNLV advances to the championship game against BYU tomorrow afternoon.
CSU had a few flashes of brilliance, but the Running Rebels gave the Rams the horn tonight with a final score of 88-72.
Leading all scores for UNLV was Kevin Kruger with 21 points, followed by birthday boy Wink Adams with 18 points and Michael Umeh with 15.
Meanwhile their big man on the boards was Joel Anthony with eight grabs.
Although CSU finished with five players in double digits (Jason Smith (16), Stuart Creason (14), Cory Lewis and Tim Denson (13) and Tyler Smith (11)), UNLV dominated where it counted - 57% shooting from the field and 60% shooting from three point land.
The broadcasting team is packing it up and so am I.
Just when I was feeling pretty short around the members of the last two teams that were on the floor, I just found out that I can feel shorter.
First off, I'm no slouch at 5-foot-8, yet considering that CSU has three players who are 7-feet tall, I'm feeling like one of the cheerleaders right now.
CSU's Stuart Creason and Jason Smith are on the floor right now and even though I am in the second row of media and on a riser, I'm sure both of these guys could look over me if they were standing in front of me.
Yet just as I am feeling a bit insecure at being vertically challenged, after seeing Smith get hit with a line drive in the face, I am enjoying my shortness.
Not only I am feeling like a dwarf among the trees, but as the only female member of the media along press row, I'm also trying not to let my abundance of estrogen lessen my importance of blogging about this game. Although after I just got slighted on the most recent box distribution so I may need to roar a bit.
Stay tuned, it's early and it's still anyone's game.
BYU vs. Wyoming: Another semi-final over, another BYU win
Here's the news flash of the night (NOT!) BYU just finished clobbering Wyoming, 96-84.
There were moments of brilliance by Wyoming and they were even able to get 19 fouls called against the Cougars, but in the end, it was all BYU.
First in scoring, BYU controlled the game with their 51% vs. 46% shooting from the field and 64% vs. 54% from the free throw line.
Next in rebounding, BYU controlled the boards 42-38.
BYU finished with four players, Plaisted (27), Cummard (21), Ainge (16) and Young (12) in double digits while Wyoming finished with three players, Ewing (23), Jones (23) and Platt (13) in double figures.
BYU's Plaisted and Young also had double-doubles on the night.
So the men's team at BYU is following up on what their women also accomplished today, which is making it possible to play in theri respective championship games.
Stay tuned, semi-final No. 2 - UNLV vs. Colorado State is coming up next.
Since Wyoming is getting homered enough in this game with the officials blantently calling everything for BYU, one of the prettiest moves of the night does not go to a BYU player, but instead to Wyoming's Jones.
His coast to coast lay up was so pretty and flawless, I'm surprised the refs didn't try to find something in that play to call a foul against the Cowboys.
What's interesting though is that despite the game being five against eight, Wyoming is keeping this interesting.
Just when Wyoming thought things were going their way, a foul underneath the BYU basket brought them back to reality.
If that wasn't tough enough, after the sideline referee told Wyoming's Jones to keep playing instead of worrying about BYU's Ainge holding onto his shorts, there still isn't much of anything going Wyoming's way.
The Cowboys are only shooting 46% from the field while BYU is lighting up the scoreboard with their 60% shooting.
The Cowboys are getting slammed on the boards, 34-28.
BYU's Plaisted just did a beautiful reverse lay up in heavy traffic under the net, so with less than seven minutes left, the beatings will not drag on too much longer here in Vegas.
I think that's the question on the mind of all of the Wyoming players and fans.
BYU has a stronghold on their lead and when Wyoming's Brad Jones can't even pick up the easy points at the free throw line, it may get worse before it gets better here in Vegas.
I didn't check the line on tonight's game, but if anyone out there placed a bet on Wyoming thinking that there would be an upset, I think it's now safe to file your ticket in the circular file in the room.
Alright, BYU continues to run away with the game with their 20+ point lead, but even though there no longer seems to be a game going on, if you are sitting courtisde you should pay attention.In particular, if you are part of the cheerleading squads.
You never want to see someone get hurt, but as one of the Cowboy cheerleaders was just escorted behind the stands after a BYU player fell on her, you can't help to wonder why she wasn't paying attention to begin with.
Stay tuned, Wyoming, along with their cheerleaders, will wake up soon and get back into the game.
KINGSTON, R.I. - His nickname is Niffty, his accent is Australian and his game, according to his coach, is still in its formative stages.
But Utah’s 7-foot-1, 265-pound sophomore, Luke Nevill had his East Coast unveiling on Saturday at the Ryan Center and the overall reaction after he went 10-for-14 from the field for a season-high 25 points and 16 rebounds (in 38 minutes), was one of awe.
Or more precisely, for at least one observer, one of Uwe.
KINGSTON, R.I. - We’ve got overtime at the Ryan Center, after a wild finish saw Utah’s Shaun Green hit a desparation three to knot the game 72-72 as time expired. It was Green's third 3-pointer of the game.
Following Keith Cothran’s one of two from the line for Rhody with 15 seconds left, Utah in-bounded and Johnnie Bryant missed a wild 3-pointer which would have tied the game. The ball went out of bounds near the Ute bench, leaving .7 seconds remaining. Utah inbounded from that spot, executed a tremendous play and Shaun Green buried a 30-foot swish to send the game into overtime.
Utah then came out and hit the first field goal of the OT for its first lead of the afternoon.
KINGSTON, R.I. - Utah displays great perimeter ball movement and it’s helped them to stay in the game, trailing 59-53 with 7:41 left in the game. The Utes are 3-of-6 from 3-point land in the second half and 7-of-19 for the game.
Luke Nevill continues to lead all scorers with 15 points and a game-high 12 rebounds. He is 6-of-9 from the field.
KINGSTON, R.I. - An entertaining first of basketball form the Ryan Center as the teams combined to take 27 3-pointers (four makes for Utah and six for URI).
Utah has been gaining more and more comfort in the half court set and Rhody continues to try and push things when they can, but only managed two fast break points in the first stanza. The pace, at this point, favors the Utes.
KINGSTON, R.I. - Rhode Island has managed to maintain a 34-30 lead with 2:04 left in the half. Utah’s 3-point shot is starting to fall and Luke Nevill continues to dominate in the middle with 11 points and 8 rebounds.
KINGSTON, R.I. - Utah’s Luke Nevill is living up to the hype early. He’s a determined beast on the boards, he hit his first two of three from the field and sank one of two free throws before six minutes had elapsed. He has seven points at the under-12:00 timeout. URI leads 19-12 with 11:28 left in the half.
The Utes are clearly content with dumping it to Nevill on the block and letting him either score or get banged for the free throws (he shoots 70 percent from the line on the season).
KINGSTON, R.I. - Rhode Island opened with two straight 3-pointers to spring out to a 6-0 lead. It’s the second straight game in which Rhody has opened with back-to-back threes.
Rhody proceeded to hit its first four threes (two for Will Daniels), taking a 14-6 lead and forced Utah to call a timeout with 16:24 left in the half. Both teams were perfect form the field (8-8) through the games first four minutes.
KINGSTON, R.I. - Just about 10 minutes from tip and the Ryan Center is starting to fill in a bit.
The locals haven’t quite embraced the Runnin’ Rams yet, but Rhody still draws fairly well, averaging 3,699 per home game. The Rams win 60 percent of the time in this building which opened four years ago. The Ram Dome holds 7,687.
. . . The Utah roster has a big international flavor with two Serbians, two Australians and a French native.
. . . The Hang Time Sign of the Day goes to the creative soul in the North end zone who has created a “Hit’em So They Can’t Seawright” poster in honor of Rhody sophomore Kahiem Seawright, the team‘s minutes (31.8 mpg) and rebounding leader (9.2 rpg).the game.
KINGSTON, R.I. - We’re about 45 minutes from tip at The Ram Dome, aka the Ryan Center and after watching Utah shoot around, beginning at about 12:45, we have but one conclusion: They grow ‘em big in Salt Lake.
With two seven-footers listed on the roster, it appears the Utes have about five who hover quite close to the 84-inch mark. We’re quite excited to see Luke Nevill, who Coach Giacoletti was raving about back at MWC media day. He was comparing Nevill quite favorably with former Ute, Andrew Bogut, the consensus National Player of the Year in 2004-2005 and Milwaukee‘s No. 1 pick in the NBA Draft. Nevill shoots 70 percent form the field currently; Bogut, in his POY campaign shot 62 percent.
. . The first playing of the season’s anthem, “Show Me What You Got (Little Momma)” was played in pre-game at 12:54 EST. My Budweiser reflex kicked in almost immediately. That’s good marketing.
KINGSTON, R.I. - Welcome to the Ryan Center on the campus of the University of Rhode Island for today’s cross-country match up between the 5-4 URI Rams (Atlantic 10) and the 3-4 Utah Utes (Mountain West).
Be prepared for all manner of “U” usage as we unravel the 2 p.m. tip that will serve as both teams final game before a week off for finals.
Utah game notes can be here; and Rhody notes are here.
LAS VEGAS - We could re-hash the incident at Kansas that wound up leading to the place where J.R. Giddens now finds himself. We could get into the "he said," "they said" and the terse way Giddens' Jayhawk career ended. We could probably even Google the subject and find some loose ends and dangling participles from the circumstances that led to Giddens winding up in New Mexico for Ritchie McKay’s Lobos.
We could do all that and more, of course. Instead we're going to start with a smile. Specifically the smile on Giddens face during his time here in Vegas for MWC Media Day. With a mini Jordan show replica dangling from his necklace and red Lobos golf shirt, Giddens is ready to put all that other stuff behind him.
LAS VEGAS - It's been our experience that in the course of head-down, minute-by-minute blogging, we sometimes forget to sit back and observe all that's going on around us. Something about the forest for the trees or some other mixed metaphor that we never quite get right.
With that in mind, we now present, after the jump, a conglomeration of snippets from the past several hours of MWC immersion.
LAS VEGAS – The men’s portion of the CSTV media slam is starting to wind down and we’ve been busy in the Green Room getting some sit-down time with three of the league’s premiere players: San Diego State’s senior guard Brandon Heath (the MWC’s reigning Player of the Year); UNLV’s senior guard Michael Umeh (coming back from a knee injury that cut short his 2005-06 season) and perhaps the league’s most intriguing player, New Mexico junior guard J.R. Giddens, a Kansas transfer who averaged 10.7 points and 3.7 rebounds in two seasons as a Jayhawk.
We’ll work on some featurettes on those three players for posting early on Thursday as an appetizer to the Live-Blogging we’ll be starting at 11 a.m. (EST) direct from the Aladdin’s Grand Ballroom where MWC Media Day is being held.
For now, we can report that MWC commissioner Craig Thompson is in the house and we’re planning on getting some time with the Commish on Thursday. We’re even in discussions to have Thompson – one of the nation’s most progressive league leaders – live-blog with Hang Time, much the way we did with Marshall Coach Ron Jirsa last week. We continue to push the envelope of blogdom, and we do it all for you, the valued CSTV.com reader.
LAS VEGAS – CSTV’s live coverage of the Mountain West Conference’s “Media Slam” is underway and Hang Time is with you from the Green Room off-set at media day headquarters, in the Aladdin Hotel.
Basically, here's how it works: You watch, we blog.
The MWC, you should know, is only the league in the country that has its CSTV preview show covering both the men’s and women’s teams – a full three hours of hoop heaven for MWC fans.
Several of the men’s players and coaches are trickling in and first up is Air Force and senior forward Jacob Burtschi with the Falcons’ assistant coach, Derrick Clark, filling in for head coach Jeff Bzdelik who had to tend to a family emergency.
LAS VEGAS - The utilization of the Coach's Son (Kevin Kruger) at the point guard position is nothing new at UNLV. Former coach Jerry Tarkanian had his son, All American, Danny, running things for the Rebels in the early 80s.
These days, Danny is looking to run a different kind of team, as he seeks Nevada's Secretary of State slot in the upcoming election, as a Republican. In the interest of equal time, his opponent is Democrat Ross Miller.
Hang Time is throwing its substantial support behind Tarkanian, but if his dad continues to blow us off during our visit, we'll be forced to reconsider.
LAS VEGAS – With a few turns of the Hang Time Dodge Neon we easily arrived at Tarkanian Way on the UNLV campus and meandered into the Thomas & Mack/COX Pavilion parking lot.
We’re now live in the bowels of COX in the Runnin’ Rebels basement practice facility where Lon Kruger’s team is scrimmaging itself (Reds vs. Grays) with four referees (three at a time) calling fouls and giving a game feel and tempo to the proceedings.
LAS VEGAS – Hang Time has arrived in Las Vegas and we’ve yet to lose a dollar, which we’re taking as an encouraging sign.
The cross country trip was smooth and lady luck shone upon us immediately by leaving the center seat vacant on a 98-percent full flight. (We’re taking that as a sign of good things to come our way in Casino Land.)
We also took special notice of the occupant of First Class Seat 1C on Flight 67 from Boston – former Boston University and 1980 Team USA team member, Mike Eruzione. To re-cap – in the course of 10 minutes we had a Miracle on Ice sighting and, with our roomy seating arrangement for the five-hour flight, a Miracle in Air.
Anybody care for a Miracle at Aladdin’s blackjack tables?
Anyway, we’re here for college hoops, specifically the Mountain West Conference’s annual media day. Last season, the league placed two 24-win teams in the NCAA tournament with both Air Force and San Diego State suffering first round losses to Big Ten teams (Illinois and Indiana respectively). It looks like a two-bid league again this year, but the outside possibility exists that three MWC teams could wind up dancing.