By LARRY HENRY
SEATTLE – Curtis Allen and his Washington Huskies did a pretty good imitation of the Runnin’ Rebels of Nevada-Las Vegas Wednesday night.
How appropriate – the team they beat: The Runnin’ Rebels, 77-64 at Hec Edmundson Pavilion.
As a youngster, Allen liked watching the Rebels on TV. As a college sophomore, he did a good job of dissecting them.
In the best performance of his college career, the flashy point guard from Tacoma scored 21 points and handed out eight assists to lead the Huskies to their fourth victory in five games.
“I thought Curtis was tremendous tonight,” said Husky coach Bob Bender. “As I told him after the game, the most important line (in the boxscore) was eight assists and three turnovers. If we get the numbers on the right side of the ledger, we are going to be a good team.”
Allen made some razzle-dazzle plays. One time he drove the lane and made a behind-the-back pass to Doug Wrenn coming in from the left side for a layin. It was pure Runnin’ Rebel.
“I knew since we were playing UNLV we might be on SportsCenter,” he said with a smile.
He had a similar pass go awry in the first half.
“I almost had second thoughts (about doing it) because Bender was pretty mad about that,” he said.
Bender wants to give his team some freedom to run because that’s one of its strengths. What’s surprising is that it’s playing so well this early in the season because there are so many new, young faces on the team.
“That’s probably the most athletic team we’ve played so that shows how athletic we are,” Allen said. “We’re pretty confident.”
The Huskies impressed UNLV coach Charlie Spoonhour.
“This is a very talented team that Bob’s got here and they can do some things,” he said. “Some of the things that we looked so bad on are things that they made happen.”
In the first half, the Huskies played some very good defense, making five steals, blocking three shots and forcing one five-second violation and one shot-clock violation. They went to the locker room leading 36-33.
One of the big players in the final 20 minutes was Grant Leep, the senior forward from Mount Vernon. Perhaps the best long-range shooter on the team, Leep connected on three 3-point shots as the Huskies pulled away to their second straight convincing victory.
“It was a wonderful game for him to get out of a little slump and make some key buckets and rebounds,” Bender said of Leep. “He played in a manner that exuded confidence. If you ever watch our bench on the ball rotation to him, they start to get up because the team expects him to make shots. It is something that we will need from him.”
Leep was 3 of 5 from behind the three-point line in the second half.
Wrenn, who came into the game averaging 17 points, got 21 points to share scoring honors with Allen. Wrenn had 13 in the second half.
The Huskies finished with six blocked shots, giving them 35 for the season. They’ve had at least five in every game.
UNLV, which dropped to 2-2, was led by Dalron Johnson with 23 points.