The Runnin' Rebels' 2008-2009 split personality reared its ugly head Wednesday night with a dismal 71-69 loss to the Rams of Colorado State, a team that hasn't won a Mountain West Conference game since 2006.
If not for a breakout performance from Joe Darger, the final score wouldn't nearly be as close as it was. Joe netted 20 points with 7-9 shooting from the floor, which included 6-8 from three-point land. He was the only Rebel to show up for the game.
Wink Adams added 13, but with five turnovers. Wink still has not regained his pre-injury form. Tre'Von Willis went 2-12, including missing two attempts with seconds to play that would have tied the game and sent it into overtime.
Clearly the Rebel team who beat Louisville and Arizona did not show up in Colorado. The team out there tonight seemed to just want to bomb away threes and not attempt to dominate in the lane, where Colorado State has been vulnerable.
Darris Santee, who has shown signs of real promise, had his best game since dropping 21 against Fresno State. At 6'8" and 255, Darris could have been the inside presence that has been lacking all year. He definitely needs to step up if the Rebels are going to be serious contenders for the Mountain West regular season crown.
Tonight had better not be an indication of the remaining 13 conference games. Coach Lon Kruger is probably reading these guys the riot act as I write this article. It was very apparent that he was not happy at all with his team's performance, as he used all 12 members of his team tonight.
Colorado State had five players in double figures and played an inspirational game in front of 2,757 very loud and loyal fans. Leading the way was Andy Ogide, a 6'8", 240-pound sophomore, with 18 points and six rebounds.
The Rebels have been far less than impressive in their first three Mountain West Conference games. They are 1-2, and their home win against New Mexico, where I gave the Lobos what I now see was way too much credit, puts them looking up at six teams.
The Rebels need to do something really fast if they are to have a meaningful season. They have some really good players and a potential Hall of Fame coach, but unless they truly step it up right away, this will become the first backward step in Lon Kruger's stay at UNLV.