The homecoming of Anthony Hamilton Jones was something other than what dreams are made of.
Facing his old school, Georgetown University, the former hometown star of Washington D.C. missed 15 of 19 shots and committed 7 turnovers, although he did collect 12 rebounds.
That was on Dec. 8, the third game of the season, when Nevada Las Vegas lost to the top-ranked, defending national champion Hoyas, 82-46.
"We were young," Jones said. "We didn't know what to expect. We were somewhat intimidated. The chemistry wasn't blending the way it is now.
"But we didn't worry about the Georgetown game. We just kept on playing. This is the result."
Jones believes the Rebels have grown up since then and offers Saturday's 79-61 rout of Cal State Fullerton in the PCAA Tournament final as evidence. Jones sank 9 of 13 shots for 18 points, second only to Richie Adams' 23, and he did it with style.
Jones, a 6-foot 6-inch swingman who is equally effective inside and out, scored his last two points on a two-handed jam out of a four-corner offense as the Rebels were running down the clock. His face exploded in a smile as he bounded back up the court.
"That topped it off right there," he said.
The win placed the Rebels (27-3) in a seeded position of the NCAA tournament--not exactly on a collision course with Georgetown but an irresistible idea to consider.
Jones wasn't quite old enough to vote two years ago when he checked out of Georgetown, kissed his mother Ida goodby and transferred to Las Vegas, a move he now says was "the best decision I've made by myself.
"There were just too many players there for me to get the amount of playing time I needed, so I thought about leaving, and Coach (John) Thompson thought it would be a good idea, also."
Jones said there was no problem with Thompson, who runs a rigid program with an academic emphasis. But he noticed Jerry Tarkanian's style was somewhat different.
"It's a lot more (pause) lenient," Jones said, smiling. "Georgetown is more rigid in education, but that's the only thing. Las Vegas has a good tradition. I'm really happy. They play my style of ball: running, pressure defense."
And that style was too much for the Titans to overcome on Saturday.
"We wanted to win the game from the start and that's the way we played," Jones said. "I heard before I went to bed that we were going to play Fullerton (which upset Fresno State late Friday night). I really didn't care who we played. I just wanted to win this championship.
"We wanted to pick up the intensity level because it was so low last night (in UNLV's 60-59 semifinal victory over San Jose). We got lucky yesterday and we wanted to make sure it wasn't the same way this game. We wanted it bad."
The Rebels are something of a paradox. Several of the players tend to freelance on their talent, but they're also an unselfish bunch. There's as much hand-slapping for flashy assists--Jones scored three times on alley-oop jams--as there is for fancy shots.
"We want to get everybody into the game," Jones said, "even the guys that come off the bench.
"That's the way we've been playing all year--unselfish.