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.