Iowa did to Nevada Las Vegas Sunday what the Runnin' Rebels have done to many a team in many a game past.
The Hawkeyes ran them ragged, pressing the Rebels to distraction, and came away with a 104-86 victory in front of a sellout crowd of 12,591 in the NCAA West Regional at Pauley Pavilion.
By the end, UNLV Coach Jerry Tarkanian felt so badly for Gerald Paddio, a senior who scored a career-high 34 points in an exasperating and futile cause, that he took him out with 1:48 to play.
"I just felt so sorry for him," Tarkanian said.
The Rebels (28-6) had not lost so soundly since 1984, when they lost to Georgetown by 36 points in a regular-season game, and it was UNLV's worst NCAA tournament loss ever.
"We got whipped in every way you can," Tarkanian said. "They knew what they had to do and they did it well."
In eliminating UNLV, Iowa sent home the last remaining team from last year's Final Four.
Providence didn't make the tournament field, and defending champion Indiana and runner-up Syracuse had already been ousted elsewhere in this tournament.
Iowa (24-9), which was eliminated by the Rebels in the West Regional final last season, will play top-seeded Arizona in a regional semifinal Friday at Seattle.
"It will take another great effort for us to beat Arizona," Iowa Coach Tom Davis said. "We have great respect for them and will need another great performance."
Arizona beat Iowa, 66-59, in December. Lute Olson, Arizona coach, was the coach at Iowa from 1975-83.
Iowa beat UNLV Sunday largely because of a nagging and relentless fullcourt press that helped to force 23 turnovers, 14 in the first half.
That press was something UNLV had tried hard to prepare for, but the Rebels were thoroughly frustrated by it, and Iowa jumped out to leads of 10-0 and 18-7.
"We wanted very much to make peace with their press," Tarkanian said.
There was nothing doing.
UNLV had hoped to counter the Iowa press early, giving the Hawkeyes cause to call it off.
The idea, Tarkanian said, was to push the ball up to Paddio for a few quick three-point baskets--anything to convince Iowa the press was susceptible. But Paddio missed his first four shots. Iowa was unimpressed, and for UNLV, the defense seemed to become more oppressive by the possession.
Even when UNLV did manage to get the ball safely upcourt, there were other disasters to befall the Rebels.
Once, when Karl James finally did break the Iowa press and seemed to be headed for an easy layup, Iowa's Jeff Moe slid in behind him and knocked the ball out James' hands and out of bounds.
Another time, Jarvis Basnight, attempting to get open against the press, pushed Moe and drew one of the fouls that resulted in his disqualification with more than 13 minutes to play.
UNLV's Stacey Augmon made a steal in Iowa's half of the court, only to have Bill Jones pick the ball out of his hands and lay it in the basket.
"I think the press had a demoralizing effect on us," Tarkanian said.
UNLV managed to make it close once, closing to 30-28 on a 9-1 run in the first half, but Iowa's subsequent 11-3 run put an end to that. The Hawkeyes led by 12 points, 51-39, at halftime, and by as many as 26 points.
Paddio led UNLV, scoring 34 points, but making 12 of 26 shots, 8 of 19 from three-point range.
It wasn't only with defense that Iowa won, however.
The Hawkeyes, with their unusual preference for interior and baseline bounce passes, had little difficulty getting the ball inside to center Ed Horton, who scored 24 points, making 10 of 16 shots.
"I don't think there was any question it was probably the best game of his career," Davis said.
Roy Marble added 22 for Iowa.
"The whole tournament is emotional," Horton said. "We try to keep being emotional. I was pumped today. I was ready to go."
There was something of a revenge factor in this game.
Last season, UNLV eliminated Iowa in the West Regional final. Iowa led by 16 at halftime of that game, but the Rebels came back to win. The Hawkeyes had not forgotten, said Moe, who scored 24 points.
"All year, we thought we should have won that game," Moe said. "All year, our friends and relatives said, 'How could you lose with that lead?' Especially, when they started coming back today, we said, 'Oh, no, don't let up."
"This is a a great achievement for us, to be back in the final 16," said Davis, who lost three starter's from last year's 30-5 team.
For UNLV, it was the end of a strange season.
The Rebels won 20 of their first 21 games, losing only to UC Santa Barbara, but lost five of their final 13 games.
Tarkanian had asserted all season that UNLV was not as good as people thought, but that early success changed some expectations.
"We're delighted we won 28 games this year, because if we started over we could never do it again," Tarkanian said. "I think we were very, very fortunate in many of our 28 wins because the ball bounced the right way for us. I'm very proud of this team. I'm disappointed today--I've been disappointed the last few weeks--but they accomplished a lot more than anyone thought they could."