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Senior’s moment: Santee soars in finale, readies for postseason

UNLV forward Darris Santee was excited and emotional Saturday as he took part in Senior Day ceremonies at the Thomas & Mack Center.

But he calmed down quickly, knowing there still is plenty of work to be done to get to where he wants to be: the NCAA Tournament.

Santee made his presence felt in the first half of the Rebels’ 74-56 rout of Wyoming. He was active at both ends of the court, scoring nine points and grabbing four rebounds in 10 minutes. Though he played seven scoreless minutes in the second half of the Rebels’ 23rd victory of the season, he left the court with a good feeling inside.

His nine points were the most he had scored since Dec. 12 when he had nine against Kansas State. His season high is 13 against Louisville on Nov. 28.

“It was very emotional for me,” Santee said. “It was my last (regular-season) game. My mom was here. We needed the win to keep our momentum going into the (Mountain West Conference) tournament next week. So I wanted to make sure I did my part.”

Santee has tried to be more active as a scorer and a rebounder since teammate Derrick Jasper injured his left knee Jan. 26. But Santee said he didn’t want to hurt the team by trying to exceed his limits.

“It’s hard,” he said. “You always want to do more, but it’s a fine line. I’ve just tried to do what the coaches have asked and do it with a better attitude. I’ve seen the difference. I think I’ve helped the team.”

With the emotional finale behind him, Santee said he can focus on his real goal — playing in the NCAA Tournament. That quest starts Thursday when the third-seeded Rebels face No. 6 Utah, a team that beat them twice this year, in the quarterfinals of the Mountain West tournament.

“It would mean so much to me,” he said. “You dream about playing in the NCAA Tournament as a kid. This is my last shot, so I’m going to do whatever it takes to help our team make it there.”

Contact reporter Steve Carp at scarp@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2913.

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