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Darger’s 3-point accuracy helps UNLV soar to 4-0

Drifting around the perimeter, UNLV senior Joe Darger waited for the defense to lose sight of him. When he found an opening, Darger was looking to shoot at every opportunity.

“If I’m wide open like that, I’ll knock the shots down,” he said.

The senior forward made good on that promise Saturday night, making six 3-pointers for all of his 18 points to help carry the Rebels to a 71-58 victory over North Carolina A&T at the Thomas & Mack Center.

UNLV improved to 4-0 for the first time since the 2002-03 season, and the 3-point shot was again the Rebels’ weapon of choice.

Darger shot 6-for-11 from long range as UNLV launched 33 3-pointers and made 11.

“I wouldn’t mind if we shoot 50 3s as long as we shoot a better percentage,” said Darger, who missed the only shot he attempted inside the line.

Senior guard Wink Adams led the Rebels with 19 points. He shot 3-for-10 from 3-point range and added six rebounds and five assists.

UNLV, hosting a second-round game in the eight-team Global Sports Classic, struggled to break free from the Aggies (2-2) of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference.

North Carolina A&T took a 45-44 lead on Nicholas Wilson’s layup with 11:56 remaining, something the crowd of 12,732 probably did not expect.

But Rene Rougeau scored the next four points on a baseline jumper and two free throws as the Rebels went on a 12-0 run.

Mareceo Rutledge, a senior reserve guard, added five points during the run and sophomore Tre’Von Willis’ 3-pointer put UNLV ahead 56-45 with 9:14 left.

“I thought Rutledge was a big key in the game,” Rebels coach Lon Kruger said.

In the first half, Adams had 13 points and Darger nine as UNLV held a 33-29 edge. Adams and Darger combined for 22 of the team’s first 25 points.

Darger’s 3-pointer with 5:02 remaining put the Rebels ahead 62-51.

“Joe is shooting the ball with great confidence, and we know he’s going to do that,” Kruger said. “It was good to see Wink and Joe kind of take over.”

Kruger continually called plays for Darger to screen for Adams and for Adams to drive to the basket. If the Aggies’ defense helped on Adams, he kicked the ball out to Darger on the perimeter.

“When we can get Joe open 3s, that’s what we need to do,” Adams said. “Against better teams, we can’t shoot like we did tonight.”

UNLV shot 21-for-57 (36.8 percent) from the field, making 10 of 24 shots inside the 3-point line.

“We’ll look inside more and try to get some baskets inside,” Darger said.

Kruger made one lineup change by inserting Willis at point guard for freshman Oscar Bellfield, who started the first three games.

Willis had eight points and four assists in 26 minutes. Bellfield had four points and three steals in 23 minutes.

The Rebels were outrebounded 41-37 by the Aggies, who were led by Ed Jones with 18 points and Thomas Coleman with 15. Jones did all of his scoring in the second half.

UNLV will play its first road game Monday night against Texas-El Paso.

Contact reporter Matt Youmans at myoumans@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2907.

UNLV 71

North Carolina A&T 58

N.C. A&T Min FG-A FT-A R A PF TP

McClurkin 12 0-0 0-1 2 1 1 0

Jones 31 6-12 3-6 8 0 3 18

Coleman 33 7-8 1-3 7 3 4 15

Alston 26 3-12 0-2 3 2 2 6

Simpson 16 0-4 1-2 3 0 1 1

Moorman 3 0-0 0-0 1 0 0 0

Joshua 16 0-3 0-0 2 1 2 0

Hill 21 1-3 2-2 2 3 2 4

Shepherd 13 1-1 0-0 1 1 1 3

Wilson 29 5-11 0-0 7 2 4 11

TOTALS 200 23-54 7-16 41 13 20 58

Field goals–42.6%. Free throws–43.8%.

Three-point goals–5-18 (Jones 3-5, Shepherd 1-1, Wilson 1-6, Simpson 0-2, Alston 0-4). Team rebounds–5. Blocked shots–4 (Coleman 3, Simpson). Turnovers–22 (Jones 4, Wilson 3, Alston 3, Shepherd 3, Coleman 2, Hill 2, Joshua 2, Moorman, McClurkin, Simpson). Steals–4 (Wilson 2, Jones, Alston).

UNLV Min FG-A FT-A R A PF TP

Santee 10 1-1 1-2 2 1 4 3

Darger 31 6-12 0-0 4 1 3 18

Adams 34 5-17 6-7 6 5 0 19

Rougeau 24 2-7 2-2 7 3 2 6

Willis 26 1-5 5-9 1 4 4 8

Bellfield 23 2-4 0-0 2 2 0 4

Wallace 9 0-2 0-0 2 1 2 0

Rutledge 19 1-5 2-2 5 0 0 5

Massamba 16 2-3 0-2 1 0 2 4

Mitchell 4 0-0 2-2 1 0 0 2

Hamga 4 1-1 0-0 0 0 0 2

TOTALS 200 21-57 18-26 37 17 17 71

Field goals–36.8%. Free throws–69.2%.

Three-point goals–11-33 (Darger 6-11, Adams 3-10, Willis 1-2, Rutledge 1-4, Bellfield 0-1, Wallace 0-2, Rougeau 0-3). Team rebounds–6. Blocked shots–3 (Rougeau 2, Massamba). Turnovers–11 (Willis 3, Santee 2, Bellfield 2, Rougeau, Mitchell, Adams, Team). Steals–15 (Rutledge 4, Bellfield 3, Willis 2, Darger 2, Adams 2, Rougeau 2).

A–12,732. Officials–Lonnie Dixon, Rick Batsell, Newton Chelette. Technical fouls–None.

N.C. A&T 29 29 — 58

UNLV 33 38 — 71

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