Kent State
58 - 71 Final
  for this game

Lopsided first half leads UNLV past Kent State

Mar 20, 2008 - 11:21 PM
OMAHA, Nebraska (Ticker) -- Nevada Las-Vegas entered the NCAA Tournament with one of the nation's most decorated defensive resumes. But the Runnin' Rebels took their intensity to a historic level against Kent State.

Joe Darger scored 18 points Thursday afternoon as eighth-seeded UNLV used a record-setting first half to coast past No. 9 Kent State, 71-58, in the first round of the Midwest Regional.

Wink Adams added 17 points for UNLV (27-7), which opened a 31-10 halftime lead. The 10 points tied a record for the lowest first-half scoring total in tournament history.

"I thought defensively we were really sharp, talking well, making aggressive switches and getting a lot of loose balls," UNLV coach Lon Kruger said. "I thought that was a big key in the first half."

It was the lowest-scoring first half since 2001, when Butler held Wake Forest to the same total.

"The first half of basketball was just so unlike how we played all year," Kent State coach Jim Christian said. "We came and played with no confidence, just made silly mistake after silly mistake."

UNLV entered the contest allowing 65 points or fewer to 19 of its last 24 opponents. Thursday's rout marked the 14th time in 25 games that the Runnin' Rebels yielded less than 60 points.

"Tonight we just wanted to come out and start off pretty fast on the defensive end and let it dictate our offense," Adams said. "I think everybody was talking to everybody."

The Runnin' Rebels capitalized on the error-prone Golden Flashes (28-7), who committed eight turnovers in the first eight minutes and shot just 21 percent (5-of-24) in the first half.

Darger paced the effort, shooting 7-of-11 from the floor and making four 3-pointers. Rene Rougeau also had a solid effort for UNLV, finishing with 12 points and 10 rebounds.

"The coaching staff and the team did a great job of putting together a game plan," Darger said. "My teammates did a great job of executing it and finding the open guy."

Curtis Terry scored eight points and dished out eight assists while Matt Shaw chipped in nine points off the bench for the Rebels, who will take on top-seeded Kansas in Saturday's second round.

Mike Scott scored 14 points to pace Kent State, the Mid-American Conference champion which entered this matinee contest with 11 wins in its last 12 games.

But UNLV completely shut down Kent State in the opening 20 minutes, holding the Golden Flashes scoreless over a stretch of nearly eight minutes.

"That was about as bad as we can play, but they obviously did a great job taking advantage of it," Christian said. "It's disappointing because we were looking so forward to this opportunity, and we really wanted to play well."

Quaintance Haminn and Chris Singletary both finished with 12 points for the Golden Flashes, who committed 20 turnovers and finished just under 36 percent (21-of-59) from the floor.