Kruger, UNLV advance to MWC title gameMar 10, 2007 - 9:03 AM LAS VEGAS (Ticker) -- Kevin Kruger's family reunion is turning into a run to glory.
Kruger had 21 points, including five 3-pointers, and Jo'Van "Wink" Adams added 18 points as 25th-ranked Nevada-Las Vegas advanced to the Mountain West Conference tournament championship game with an 88-72 triumph over Colorado State.
With the win, the Runnin' Rebels have posted their most victories since the school's famous defending national champions went 34-1, losing to eventual champion Duke in the national semifinals in 1991.
"We felt good about the progress we made throughout the year," UNLV coach Lon Kruger said. "Yet, I think our message and reminder to the guys is we've got to focus on getting better."
UNLV will face top-seeded Brigham Young in the MWC championship game on Saturday. The teams split their two meetings this season, but the Cougars posted a 90-63 victory in the last meeting on February 3.
"I think (we've been looking forward to playing BYU again)," Kevin Kruger said. "We really just had to take care of business, (Thursday and Friday). (Friday's) game is going to be no different. We're going in the same way we went into the last two days."
A fifth-year senior, Kruger transferred from Arizona State to play for his father. The duo have led UNLV back to the MWC title game now that the tournament is back at the Thomas & Mack Center - the Rebels' home court - for the first time in four years. It was held in Denver the previous three years.
"This is my first time playing at home in a conference tournament," Adams said. "To me, it feels great. It's just like playing in the regular season, playing at home in front of fans. It's a great atmosphere to play in."
A fiery leader, Kruger fed off the partisan crowd, showing emotion all night. However, the 6-2 guard let his play do the talking, shooting an efficient 7-of-10 from the field, including 5-of-7 on 3-pointers.
"With the way we play as a team, it leaves a lot of people open," Kevin Kruger said. "Like we've said kind of from day one, there isn't really one person you can focus on."
Adams was 6-of-12 from the floor, including 3-of-7 from the arc, and Michael Umeh scored 15 points on 5-of-9 shooting - nailing all three of his shots from the arc - for UNLV, which shot 57 percent (29-of-51) and 15-of-25 on 3-pointers.
It was the second straight impressive victory for the Rebels, who made an emphatic statement with an 89-54 romp of Utah on Thursday - the most lopsided win in the history of the MWC tournament.
Jason Smith scored 16 points for the Rams, who shot 44 percent (23-of-52).
"It was definitely a struggle for us inside," Smith said. "They also had (defensive player of the year Joel) Anthony. He's a real big presence inside. He affected a lot of our shots. They have a really good team. I think UNLV will do really well in our tournament."
- MOUNTAIN WEST TR
NCAA BB MOUNTAIN WEST TR
FINAL 1ST 2ND TOTAL
--- --- -----
COLORADO ST 31 41 72
UNLV (25) 41 44 85 FINAL
Mar 10 1:45 AM
- MOUNTAIN WEST TR
NCAA BB COLORADO ST 32
UNLV (25) 48 0:00 LEFT, 2ND HALF
Mar 10 12:48 AM
- MOUNTAIN WEST TR
NCAA BB COLORADO ST 31
UNLV (25) 41 HALFTIME
Mar 10 12:28 AM
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