Wink Adams had plenty of tough shooting nights this season before he strained his lower abdominal muscle. So the UNLV senior guard couldn’t use his injury as an excuse.
To his credit, he didn’t.
Nevertheless, Adams’ return to the Rebels’ lineup was a mixed bag against New Mexico in the Mountain West Conference opener Saturday.
Sure, coach Lon Kruger was glad to have his No. 1 scorer back on the court after Adams missed Wednesday’s victory at No. 18 Louisville. But he was unable to produce anything offensively against the Lobos, shooting 0-for-6 in 18 minutes as the Rebels barely survived, 60-58 at the Thomas & Mack Center.
It was only the second time Adams has been held scoreless in his UNLV career.
More significantly, he was on the bench during most of crunch time, indicating Adams is still far from 100 percent.
"I was probably 75, 80 percent," Adams said. "It still hurts when I try to do some things, like defensive slides. But there was no doubt I was going to play."
Kruger said Adams was fit enough to play after he went through Friday’s practice at full speed.
"We planned to put him in the game," Kruger said. "He obviously wasn’t 100 percent. Obviously he was out of rhythm. But I thought it was good to see him out there."
Adams, who got hurt in the first half against Southern Utah on Dec. 23, entered the game with 12:25 remaining in the first half and was greeted with a semi-standing ovation from the announced crowd of 14,189.
He seemed hesitant and didn’t have his usual lift on his jump shot. He also wasn’t as aggressive as usual on defense — a likely reason he wasn’t on the court down the stretch, though Kruger inserted him for the final 14.5 seconds to help fend off a rally by the Lobos.
"I probably wouldn’t have put him in, but they had a small lineup on the floor and we wanted to be able to match up and switch five small guys to their five," Kruger said.
Adams said he wasn’t surprised to be called upon.
"I’m used to being out there in that kind of situation," he said. "I just tried to settle the rest of our guys down. In league play, everything is different. It’s much more intense."
With UNLV off until Saturday, when it faces Texas Christian at Fort Worth, Texas, Adams has some additional time to heal.
"That’s big for me, getting an entire week to get treatment and get better," he said. "I can’t put a lot of pressure on my right leg. That’s why I was having a tough time with my jumper.
"But a week off will really help me. I’ll keep doing my daily treatment and hopefully I’ll get back to 100 percent."Slideshow Video