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Rebels knew ending early

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My sensitive guy rating is going to nosedive for saying this, but there are certain things that are unclear as to how they get started, but the ending becomes quickly apparent.

For instance, "Pride and Prejudice." I don't know how I get talked into watching that kind of film, but 10 minutes into it, I know how everything will end. The couple will get married. My wife will weep like a lawn sprinkler. Then she will say, "See, wasn't that good? We're going to have to do this again."

Same principle applies to our "communication" talks. When she says we need to "communicate," I never really know what brings the subject up. But I do know how it's going to end. After a really long talk, she will say, "Now do you understand what I'm saying?"

No. But that's because while she's "communicating," I'm thinking about buying a home theater system.

Strange as it may seem, similar rules apply in basketball. UNLV coach Char-

lie Spoonhour didn't know exactly what set the Utes off on their outside scoring rampage, Saturday, but he knew quickly how it would end. The Utes unloaded a sudden barrage of early 3-pointers and finished with a 86-63 win. Spoonhour started with a man-to-man defense, switched to zone, then went back to man. Didn't matter. He could have told his players to do the Hokey Pokey and it wouldn't have changed the outcome.

The Utes set a school record and tied the conference mark by making 17 long-distance shots.

"I don't think they really knew which defense to use, zone or man-to-man," said Ute forward Jeff Johnsen.

The Utes are off to an auspicious start on their conference season (1-0), holding down an eight-game win streak and getting more mysterious by the second. Is this the team that totaled just 41 points at Saint Mary's — and still won? That recently lost its most productive player, Chris Burgess, to a ankle injury?

Projecting how this season will end is another matter entirely.

Oddly enough, the Utes began the game looking as though they would lose by a wide margin. The Rebels jumped to a 7-0 lead before the fireworks started.

"Then they hit the threes," said Spoonhour.

He didn't see it coming, but when it did, it came fast. Nick Jacobson — whose five treys tied Jeff Johnsen for high honors — landed the first. Soon it was hailing. Johnsen made one, then Phil Cullen, then Britton Johnsen, then Jeff, to make it five straight. The Rebels couldn't have been more helpless. That opened the middle for three consecutive layups, and the Utes never trailed.

Jeff Johnsen started the second half with a 3-pointer, and a few minutes later the Utes were scoring threes again — Britton Johnsen, Travis Spivey, Trace Caton, Jacobson, Cullen, Jacobson and back to Jeff Johnsen, as the lead shot to 22. The Utes finished with 17-26 shooting from the 3-point line.

"Maybe we'll guard somebody next time — try a new approach," Spoonhour said.

The convincing win left Ute fans wondering what to expect. This is, after all, the team that made the game with Whitworth exciting. Perhaps the Utes will become the run-and-gun team of the new century, casting off threes without so much as a second thought.

Don't plan on it.

"Coach always wants us to go inside," said Britton Johnsen. "He's a big-man coach."

None of the Utes had any idea the game would turn the way it did, much less Rick Majerus, who doesn't exactly endorse long-distance dialing. He much prefers controlling every move, from in close. But with Burgess gone and UNLV playing soft, the Utes decided to launch . . . and launch . . . and launch.

So on a day in which they fell behind quickly, they still ended up in the record books. Throwing caution — and the basketball — to the wind, they came up winners. It must have been fun. Because once they got started, it was easy to see where they'd finish. It was a film even Majerus could learn to love.


E-mail: rock@desnews.com