"We're not afraid like everybody else," said Day. "We got 'em in our house. It's time for them to go down."
The next day even the shortest Porker, 5'10" Arlyn Bowers, delivered a Namathian proclamation: "I'm not picking a margin. But we will win. Definitely. I guarantee it." By the time Bowers had fouled out on Sunday with 7:23 to go—this little Piggy went wee-wee-wee all the way home—UNLV was ahead by 20.
Long before that juncture, the Rebels' own jawing, pointing and posturing had grown tiresome. Isn't this team—20-0 and on a 31-game winning streak after Sunday and worthy of comparisons with the great UCLA aggregations of Alcindor and Bill Walton as well as to the last unbeaten college outfit, the 1975-76 Indiana squad—simply too good to carry on like your standard, tacky, no-class bully?
It isn't enough that the Rebels walk out for intros in a slooooow, cocksure strut. It isn't enough that by winning their games by an average of 31.3 points they are on pace to break the NCAA margin-of-victory record. No. What's apparently in the contract is that they must intimidate—"that's a word you writers made up," says Tarkanian—from the opening tap. Johnson and Augmon in particular jabber away in every available face.
On Sunday, Johnson dunked on a breakaway for a 70-61 lead, and then ran over to where Bowers, nine inches and 70 pounds smaller, was sprawled on the floor and angrily waved a finger in his face. With 5:38 left Johnson elbowed Hog sub Clyde Fletcher in the head, drawing blood, while the two jostled for position on a made free throw. At the time, UNLV was ahead by 21, 98-77. Two minutes later Augmon whomped Day with a double forearm to the neck. No wonder. The Rebels' lead had shrunk to 18,104-86.
All of this begat the inevitable, when Johnson and Day, battling for a rebound with 2:27 to go, had to be restrained from tearing each other's heads off—as well as that of referee-peacemaker Jody Silvester. "We didn't get to where we are by being passive," said Anthony afterward. "All our talk is positive talk. Lots of egos are out there. To expect anybody to back down from all this stuff is ludicrous."
As the chips slipped from his shoulder, Anthony, the vice-chairman of the Nevada Young Republicans who has expressed a desire to run for the U.S. Senate, smiled. "We're really improved," he said. "You guys keep underrating us."
"O.K., then somebody starts comparing us with the great teams. We don't talk about that. We know all it takes is for us to stub our toe once, and we'll be history."
More than likely, what this brilliant team will do instead is stub other people's toes—without, let's hope, smashing their faces—and end up making history.