UCLA rolled triple digits at Nevada Las Vegas in Pauley Pavilion Saturday night in a game that was close for about as long as it took to say, well, dunk shot.
The Bruins scored on 14 of their first 16 possessions, led by 15 points in the first 5:30 and by 108-83 when it was over.
The whole thing didn't exactly happen by accident, said Ed O'Bannon, who would not have had a place at UCLA if UNLV had stayed clear of NCAA infractions, which caused him to reconsider an oral commitment to the Runnin' Rebels.
"I had goose bumps," said O'Bannon, who had 16 points in 26 minutes. "When I saw those guys walk out of the locker room, I thought, 'Boy, that could have been me.' "
Once the game started, O'Bannon and the Bruins felt relieved because they were looking at a team that liked to run as much as them.
"We tried to open things up so we could just relax a little bit and just play basketball," he said.
A crowd of 12,738 watched the 2-0 Bruins pile up another 100-plus point game. Charles O'Bannon led the way with 23 points, but he was not alone in his offense.
Shon Tarver had 16 points, George Zidek had 15 points and 11 rebounds, Tyus Edney had 14 points and 10 assists and Kevin Dempsey joined five others in double figures with 12 points.
It was all fairly impressive, said UNLV Coach Rollie Massimino.
"Their transition game was even stronger than I thought it would be," he said. "We were shell-shocked."
But at least they were playing--and for the first time.
For a brief while, there was even a question where the game would be played. UNLV officials asked UCLA if it would move the game to Las Vegas so it could be televised by ESPN.
NCAA sanctions against the university prohibit nonconference road games to be televised, but a home game would have been permitted to be shown on television.
It didn't take long for UCLA to make up its mind.
"I'm not going to give up a home game," said Athletic Director Pete Dalis, who wasn't swayed by the money UCLA could have made in a televised game.
"We'd have to split it 10 ways (with conference schools) so it wasn't a factor," he said.
Speaking of factors, UNLV's relatively diminutive presence at the center position amounted to something of one. In fact, the Bruins probably have managed to get off easily in their first two games because they have played teams with centers only slightly longer than Massimino's fluorescent tie.
Zidek's performance was a direct result of the Bruins' good fortune of once again working against a small front line.
Next time, they aren't as fortunate. Tennessee State, which will play the Bruins on Wednesday at Pauley Pavilion, features 6-foot-11 center Carlos Rogers.
"He'll present all kinds of problems for us," UCLA Coach Jim Harrick said.
Meanwhile, the problems presented by the Rebels centered around a harassing defense that caused a certain consternation in the second half. That was after the Bruins had unloaded on UNLV in the first half, which ended with UCLA leading by 18 points.
If the Rebels needed any inspiration in their first-ever encounter with the Bruins, it might have come from one end of their bench. There sat Dodger Manager Tom Lasorda, a guest of Massimino.
However, Lasorda's influence must have been minimal. At no time did any player send a the ball at the basket on three bounces.
UCLA clearly needed some help on its free-throw shooting, though. The Bruins missed 16 of 29 free throws.
Tarver began the game with a dunk and less than five minutes later, UCLA led, 21-7.
When Tarver left a no-look, over-the-head pass on the baseline for Ed O'Bannon, it was worth a dunk and a 25-10 lead. A short jumper by Zidek and a two free throws by Edney gave UCLA its biggest lead of the first half, 53-30, with 3:01 to play.
Relentless pressure defense helped UNLV stage a small comeback. When Jermaine Smith picked the ball away from Dempsey, then assisted Clayton Johnson with a dunk, the Rebels moved to within 13 at 70-57.
But that was as close as they got. Edney's three-pointer and a driving layup pumped the lead back up to 20 and when Tarver rolled in a layup with 4:57 left, UCLA's lead was 100-66.