Nevada Las Vegas Coach Jerry Tarkanian said he was pleased to pull out an 88-82 victory over North Carolina State Saturday--considering.
After an ongoing hassle with the NCAA that brought the one-game suspension of 10 of his players, and a brawl Thursday night that brought suspensions for two others, he was ready to play basketball, not dodge off-court problems.
"Overall I thought we played very well, considering what's been going on," Tarkanian said.
Larry Johnson scored 24 points, including four free throws in the closing seconds, to lead No. 12 UNLV.
The Rebels (16-4) held the Wolfpack scoreless for a four-minute span in the closing minutes, scoring 10 points in a row to turn a 69-68 deficit into a 78-69 lead.
Tarkanian said the events of the past week may have made his Rebels a little timid.
"We told the guys how important it was to play hard, but not to commit any aggressive fouls," he said. "We stressed not to foul, but we played so timid. Defensively we didn't create the game I wanted."
Wolfpack Coach Jim Valvano said his club executed its game plan "almost to perfection" until the final minutes when they were handcuffed by the UNLV defense.
Valvano wasn't happy with an intentional foul call with 37 seconds remaining that gave the Rebels two free throws and the ball back.
"Maybe we should go back to the old NBA rule where they allowed you to go up and nicely hug the guy and get the foul," Valvano said.
Rodney Monroe scored 31 points for N.C. State (15-6) and Brian Howard, Tom Gugliotta and Brian D'Amico had 10 each. Stacey Augmon hit 16 for Las Vegas and David Butler and Greg Anthony had 15 each.
The Runnin' Rebels led at halftime, 43-42, fell behind by five, then went on a 14-4 run to pull ahead, 61-56, midway through the second half.
N. C. State regained the lead, 69-68, on baskets by Mickey Hinnant and Chris Corchiani, but then came their scoreless streak.
The Wolfpack pulled within 80-77 with a minute remaining on a three-point shot by Gugliotta. But Anthony and Johnson hit four free throws each to put the game away.
Both teams have been in NCAA trouble this season. N. C. State has been barred from the NCAA tournament as part of sanctions resulting from violations involving the sale of complimentary tickets and shoes by players.
The NCAA has ordered 10 UNLV players suspended for a game each for violations ranging from failure to pay incidental expenses at hotels where the team stayed for road games to one case where a player failed to keep current on a student loan. The suspensions were imposed on a two-players-per-game basis, with reserves Barry Young and James Jones sitting out Saturday.
In addition, reserve center Chris Jeter was ordered by the university to sit out three games, including Saturday's, for his role in a brawl at the end of Thursday's game against Utah State.
Seven UNLV players and three from Utah State were placed on probation for the remainder of the season by the Big West Conference.
Security at the 19,000-seat Thomas and Mack Center was tightened for Saturday's game and players exited from different routes.