UNLV-New Mexico Preview
UNLV tied for the Mountain West Conference lead last weekend
after rebounding from a road loss.
If the 11th-ranked Runnin’ Rebels don’t bounce back from another
defeat outside Las Vegas, they might not get a chance to return to
the top of the league standings.
UNLV tries to avoid losing for the third time in four games
Saturday when conference-leading New Mexico goes for a seventh
consecutive victory since these teams last met.
After their five-game winning streak ended with a 68-66 loss at
Wyoming on Feb. 4, the Runnin’ Rebels (22-5, 6-3) moved into a
three-way tie for first place with New Mexico and No. 13 San Diego
State with a 65-63 victory over the Aztecs last Saturday.
UNLV, though, arrives in Albuquerque in a second-place tie with
San Diego State after losing 102-97 in overtime at TCU on
The Runnin’ Rebels couldn’t hold on to an 18-point second-half
lead and fell to 5-5 away from home.
“One of the things we’re not very good at right now is keeping
our foot on the pedal on both ends of the floor,” said coach Dave
Rice, whose team surrendered its most points since a 120-117
double-overtime victory over New Mexico on March 7, 2002.
“For us to be a very good team, for us to advance to being a
very good team we have to have almost that killer instinct where if
we’re up six, get up eight – if we’re up 18, try to get up 22,
UNLV, though, put the Lobos (21-4, 7-2) away Jan. 21, extending
its lead to 20 after trailing by five midway through the first half
of an 80-63 home win.
However, New Mexico is a much different team than the one that
dropped its third straight in this series.
Since that defeat, the Lobos have won their six games by an
average of 20.8 points, including a 77-67 victory at San Diego
State on Wednesday.
“I think this team has been under appreciated,” coach Steve
Alford told the school’s official website. “I think we are playing
our best basketball at the right time of the year. Our guys are
playing their roles and playing as hard as they can.”
That’s especially true on the defensive end. New Mexico has held
its opponents to 50.6 points and 34.6 percent shooting during its
winning streak to take a one-game lead over UNLV and San Diego
“You know, all season people have been talking about San Diego
State and UNLV going at it, so this is a nice win to put us solely
in first,” said senior forward Drew Gordon, who is averaging 12.1
points and 10.7 rebounds – second only to Rebels sophomore Mike
Moser’s 11.3 boards in the Mountain West. “… It was a good win
for us and we basically dictate our own fate from here on out.”
Guards Kendall Williams and Tony Snell led the Lobos with 15
points apiece Jan. 21, while Gordon added 14 and 12 rebounds.
Moser scored 14 points with 10 boards in that contest, while
Carlos Lopez had half of the Runnin’ Rebels’ 28 bench points.
The Lobos have won three straight at The Pit since San Diego
State ended their season-best 13-game winning streak with a 75-70
victory Jan. 18.
UNLV, which plays three of its final four games at home, has won
two straight in Albuquerque after posting a 77-74 overtime victory
in its last visit Feb. 23.