LIVE GAME BLOG — Final:

No. 23 UNLV claws back late, ultimately falls to No. 15 New Mexico, 76-66

Rebels now 19-5 overall, 7-3 in league play heading to San Diego this weekend

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Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun

Braden Delinger gets a high-five from UNLV coach Lon Kruger before the start of Rebels’ game against New Mexico on Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2010, at the Thomas & Mack Center.

Updated Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2010 | 10:03 p.m.

#15 New Mexico vs #23 UNLV

Fifteenth-ranked New Mexico pulled into sole possession of first place in the Mountain West Conference standings after beating Number 23 UNLV 76-66 Wednesday night at the Thomas & Mack Center.

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Red ballons are passed out to the student section before the start of UNLV's game against New Mexico on Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2010, at the Thomas & Mack Center.

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Final, New Mexico wins 76-66

UNLV fans were only able to see the second half of Wednesday's highly-anticipated game between the No. 23 Rebels and the No. 15 Lobos, and despite a late tease, it told the same story as the first 20 minutes.

The Rebels got close, but not close enough late as New Mexico prevailed, 76-66, moving into sole possession of first place in the Mountain West standings at 8-2. UNLV, who heads off to face San Diego State on Saturday, is now 19-5 overall and 7-3 in league play.

The Rebels trailed by 18 points mid-way through the second half, and with a big run got back to within two with just over two minutes to play, but Vegas native Darington Hobson spread it back out with a big second-chance bucket, and it was the signature touch on his 16-point, 12-rebound performance in his homecoming game.

UNLV was 10-of-30 from 3-point range, while never recovering from the Lobos hitting their first five 3-point attempts of the game. Oscar Bellfield led UNLV with 15 points, while Tre'Von Willis struggled from the floor, going 4-of-13 in finishing with 13 points and 10 assists.

For full postgame coverage, including photos, video, stats and The Rebel Room: Postgame Edition podcast, stay tuned to lasvegassun.com/rebels.

2:34, second half, New Mexico leads 70-63

UNLV got back to within two points after trailing by as many as 18 at one point in the second half, but Vegas native Darington Hobson struck back, making it a double-double for himself with a second-chance bucket. That was followed by a 3-pointer from Phillip McDonald to put New Mexico back up by seven.

The Rebels are making one final push, as a Matt Shaw corner 3-pointer made it a four-point game at 70-66 with just over two minutes to play.

5:56, second half, New Mexico leads 63-54

UNLV continues to get back to within single digits of New Mexico, but getting within close striking distance is becoming tougher and tougher. The No. 15 Lobos lead the No. 23 Rebelos, 63-54, with 5:56 left to play at the Mack.

Darington Hobson continues to make huge plays for the Lobos, and the Las Vegas native now has 14 points and nine rebounds for the Lobos, who have a surprise visitor in the form of alum and current Indiana Pacers superstar Danny Granger sitting behind their bench.

However, the Rebels now have their best opportunity. After the TV timeout, Tre'Von Willis got a huge defensive board and then a layup on the other end, coming on the heels of a Chace Stanback put-back. UNLV is now down just five at 63-58 with 4:51 to play.

11:42, second half, New Mexico leads 61-43

It's getting later and later, and the windows of opportunity for UNLV to mount a comeback on New Mexico are growing fewer.

The widest one was just a couple of minutes ago, after UNM's Darington Hobson was given a technical foul after a tussle underneath the hoop with Chace Stanback.

Tre'Von Willis hit both free throws, then Kendall Wallace added a 3-pointer to make it an 11-point game. But Willis then missed a three which could have made it a single-digit deficit, and since then, New Mexico has gotten hot again.

The biggest backbreaker was a seemingly endless possession for New Mexico which involved four offensive rebounds and ended with Phillip McDonald hitting a corner 3-pointer to make it an 18-point game.

Halftime, New Mexico leads 40-28

It's probably a good thing that UNLV fans around the country haven't seen a second of the first half, instead catching the now fourth overtime of the Utah-TCU women's game on CBS-C.

The Lobos are 15-of-29 from the floor and hit their first five 3-point attempts in building a 40-28 lead on the scuffling Rebels.

UNLV is 12-of-31 from the floor, just 3-of-14 from three and is forcing shots while attempting to mount a comeback.

The Rebels got a brief spark from Matt Shaw, who mysteriously sat on the bench until the seven-minute mark, but New Mexico made up for lost ground and added to its lead at the end of the half with a pair of Roman Martinez free throws.

Here are some numbers of note from the first half ...

— Shaw was UNLV's leading scorer, putting away seven points in five minutes.

— Meanwhile, Tre'Von Willis has four points, four assists, two rebounds and two steals, but is just 2-of-6 from the floor.

— Kendall Wallace and Oscar Bellfield are each just 1-of-4 from 3-point range.

— For the Lobos, Vegas native Darington Hobson battled early foul trouble, but has nine points, eight rebounds and three assists in 11 minutes.

— Nate Garth was huge off of the bench for the Lobos with eight points on 3-of-4 shooting in 10 minutes of play after Hobson picked up a second early foul.

3:39, first half, New Mexico leads 31-22

For whatever reason, it was nearly 13 minutes until Matt Shaw was inserted into the game for UNLV, but he's touched the ball twice on the offensive end, scored four points, has a defensive rebound and the Rebels are waking up those in the Mack, now trailing the 15th-ranked Lobos, 31-22.

In a game still not seen by those at home because of now three overtimes between the Utah and TCU women, the Lobos are struggling to even get shots off as the packed house grows louder and louder.

Right out of the TV timeout, Matt Shaw hit a 3-pointer in the corner to make it a six-point game, and UNLV followed it by forcing a travel call.

The Lobos have missed their last three 3-point attempts since their 5-for-5 start, while UNLV has hit five of its last seven shot attempts.

7:58, first half, New Mexico leads 27-12

UNLV had a chance to cool off New Mexico as Darington Hobson went to the bench with two fouls, but it didn't derail the No. 15 Lobos one bit.

New Mexico leads 27-12 as we're past the mid-way point in the first half at the Mack. The Rebels have allowed the Lobos to go 5-of-5 from 3-point range, and reserve Nate Garth came off the bench in Hobson's place to hit two of those.

The Rebels, meanwhile, are 1-of-8 from long range, 6-of-19 from the floor and no one has any idea, it looks like, how to change the course of events.

14:18, first half, New Mexico leads 13-5

New Mexico is wasting time in giving UNLV a taste of its own medicine at the Thomas & Mack Center.

After the Rebels used the 3-point shot to kill the Lobos in Albuquerque last month, Steve Alford's club has hit its first three attempts from deep to build an 13-5 lead early on UNLV.

Sophomore guard Phillip McDonald hit the last one, and before that scored on a pair of mid-range jumpers, as the Rebels are allowing open looks outside in abundance, just like they did in Albuquerque in the first meeting.

Hitting one of those threes was Las Vegas native Darington Hobson, who grew up coming to UNLV games at the Mack. He was more than enthused while the Rebels were being introduced to their patented fireworks display and is as cool as a cucumber so far.

Sorry if you're not seeing the game yet on CBS-C. Unfortunately, you're still getting the Utah-TCU women's game in double overtime. More firepower against that TV deal, eh?

Pregame

Lost in the shuffle of the Mountain West Conference having three teams in the Top 25 polls and UNLV's recent surge on the hardwood is Rebels coach Lon Kruger being on the verge of a mini-milestone.

Of course, 500 wins in Division-I college basketball is pretty much the equivalent of 500 home runs for a major league baseball player — automatic inclusion in the hall of fame.

Kruger is still probably two years away from that benchmark, but tonight, he has a shot at No. 450.

It's a very minor footnote in a game just as big as Saturday's 88-74 blowout over then-No. 12 BYU for UNLV, who now checks in at No. 23 in the AP poll. The Rebels welcome No. 15 New Mexico to town, who UNLV toppled in Albuquerque on Jan. 9, 74-62.

What does this game mean, besides one team creating a bit of separation from the three-way tie atop the MWC standings? Well, and you can agree with me or disagree, I'm convinced that with a win tonight, and barring a monstrous collapse afterwards, UNLV can all but secure itself a spot in the NCAA tournament as, at the very least, an at-large. Again, just my opinion, but a 20-4 record along with two wins over New Mexico, a pasting of BYU and non-con victories over Arizona and Louisville makes for one heck of a resumé.

Well, certainly better than North Carolina's.

Now, onto tonight's 3 keys to UNLV victory

1) Kendall Wallace was brutally hot in New Mexico. No questioning that. Kid was 7-of-9 from 3-point range. He was the difference, yes. But, what was lost in the mix was that New Mexico had far too many open 3-point looks. The Rebels were somewhat fortunate that the Lobos went just 4-of-18 from deep. If even three or four more go in, it could have been a different story. With extra attention surely being on Wallace tonight, UNLV cannot afford to allow that many open looks from long range.

2) Chace Stanback will need to stretch the Lobos out defensively. If you remember, the game in Albuquerque marked the first game in a phenomenal run for the 6-foot-8 sophomore forward which is still going. He's been aggressive and confident of late and has found a way to significantly contribute every time out since that afternoon at The Pit. On Saturday against BYU, it was his first time not scoring in double figures since then, but in exchange, he grabbed a career-high 14 rebounds.

3) The crowd needs to be a factor again. Lon Kruger's radio spot on ESPN 1100 AM, saying Saturday's crowd was a key to UNLV's victory, was no lie. If the fans show up, it'll be the same thing tonight. So far, they are, as we're 30 minutes from tip-off and the place is beginning to jump. I'm not saying it'll be a sell-out, but it looks like it'll be close.

As for tonight's prediction and 'Pick to Click', I'm taking the Rebels to win in a tight one, 72-69. I think Stanback will be huge for UNLV, especially on the defensive end, where he'll probably see a good amount of time on Darington Hobson.

Be back shortly after tip-off. It's the biggest game in college hoops tonight. While it's a shame that more of the country won't see it, if you can find a way, it'll be worth your while ... and the higher cable bill.

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Previous Discussion: 57 comments so far…

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  1. OMG are you kidding me ... women's TCU v. Utah goes into double OT. WTF!!! I wanna see my Rebels!

  2. Switch off this stupid women's game, I wanna see the Rebels get smashed!

  3. This is ridiculous. CBS College Sports has to understand.. they have the 25th and 15th teams in the nation going at it... horrible with them sticking to the womens game!

  4. Double OT, triple OT, whatever it is, I just want it to end!

  5. Blame your conference, folks. Blame your conference. It's a damn shame. I'll say that much.

  6. Missing the comeback! ... Happy to be within 10 at the half from what I'm reading! NOT SEEING!

  7. This network is killing me with this stupid womens game end it switch coverage this is stupid

  8. GO TCU GO TCU!!!!!!

  9. If this goes in to a fourth OT im gonna throw the remote through the TV

  10. i can't believe we are missing the entire first half! CBS only has a recording, I will call tomorrow.

  11. Lets just be happy if we get to see the second half! I'm going to give up on seeing any of the first half!!! Go Rebels! Come Back baby! Want to hear that crowd on tv! yeah!

  12. Please let us be down by only 10 at the half. We are getting killed on the boards.

  13. this is killing me

  14. 4 overtimes unbelievable!

  15. Holy crap. At this rate we will not see any of the Rebels game. 4 OTs!!!

  16. Lobo and Rebel fans united... at being frustrated at how ridiculous this is.... they HAVE to go to the mens game at the start of the second half right? Right?!?!?

  17. This is what happens when you don't have an inside game.

  18. I am yelling hundreds of expletives that would get me kicked off of this message boards

  19. This is probably going to end up the best rated women's game of the year just because everyone is tuned in for a men's game.

  20. i agree the conference is at fault, but somebody at cbs needs to get out of bed and make the switch!

  21. Honestly, this game (utah v tcu ladies) is surprisingly epic yet amazingly lame. There are 70 people at the game in utah and 18,577 at the Mack. Switch the feed CBS!

  22. Let's hope we can get it together at the half. We need more Shaw, more boards, and more Tre. Somebody needs to step up. Lets go Rebels--12 points is not insurmountable.

  23. utterly and completely RIDICULOUS. Womens Basketball is so horrible to watch. I've seen JV high school games better than this.

  24. We don't even get to see the half time report highlights haha. This sucks.

  25. I love it.. how did Lobos get 2 free throws after the half? 00 remaining? I love espn's Gamecast...... I was happy to be within 10 at the half.... haha.

  26. TCU up by 7 with 22 seconds left. If Utah somehow takes it to a 5th overtime I think I will have a coronary.

  27. I can't watch Suze Orman coach the UTES any more...this is sooooo painful!

  28. WooHoo! Rebel time. Now lets hope actually being able to see the 2nd half will be worth it. I'm ready for a Rebel comeback!

  29. finally! i thought we would never get to see the game!

  30. there is a God, my last post good night las vegas!

  31. our defense is atrocious tonight

  32. their high-post pick and roll is killing us. everyone collapses to the middle leaving the wings wide open. come on rebs, lets get it together!

  33. i almost wish the women's game would have kept going so i wouldn't have to watch how horrible we are playing.

  34. wow ... everything going the lobos way tonight.

  35. Earth to Rebels...you have to play hard to win!

  36. See?...I think they heard me.

  37. Lack of defensive intensity, sounds like an occasion to put Chop in the game.

  38. Disgusting how the Rebels are so lacking in rebounding effort.

  39. Good lord do we ever get a loose ball? Another short stay in the polls. Nice work Rebels.

  40. If they think they can just outshoot opponents and win here is the wake up call.

  41. I believe we were outcoached tonight. Alford had them ready for our 4 guard line-up. Pick out top with their center. One of our guards ends up on their center. Center slides to the basket with a huge mismatch. Our wing defenders have to sag in to help out which leaves Martinez and others wide open on the corner wings for easy 3's. They did over and over all night long.
    I hope the other coaches in the league don't watch the video of this game because it will be the same story over again.

    Our guys played extremely hard. It's hard to get rebounds when your 6'2" trying to get rebounds over 6'8" guys. We took too many rushed 3's when we got the game close instead of pounding it inside like Lobo's did.

  42. Although the Rebels didn't play their best ball, you have to hand it to them, they fought back and cut it to two. And if for Hobson, who should have been gone, I think they would have pulled it out. I think it was a matter of time when we finally realized how valuable Jasper is. Anyways, definitely showed they have more character then BYU in making a valiant comeback. But I think we can kiss the conference Championship good bye, but should be in the NCAAs.

  43. I dont know what some of you guys are talking about. That was a really exciting game win or lose and I think that game made is hungrier. We won't always win the game and just because we're at home it doesn't mean it's a lock. Last week when the Rebels won everyone was excited now that we lose one game some of you guys keep changing your mind. For me I love them win or lose and I can't wait for the saturday bring on the Aztecs.

  44. Shaw definitely should be playing more minutes.

    Good for the Rebels, though, for not giving up. They fought hard. And as usual, got some garbage calls.

    I especially disliked the dark-haired ref that smacked Kruger on the butt after Kruger gave him an earful. So cocky. And so wrong.

  45. Runnin' Rebs,

    From a person who hadn't missed 17 years of home games...

    Feel free to play at least 30 minutes of defense at home. A big win on Saturday is now diminished by a loss at home today. It is time to start winning every game. We are UNLV basketball. There is no excuse to not win all of these games from here on. Defense wins games. Stop taking things for granted after big wins. Packed houses expect wins. You should want this. The MWC second-place team should finish 3 games back from us every year starting in 2011. Get on board. It is your ticket to punch. Entirely up to you.

  46. Saturday against BYU was an unbelievable, unrepeatable performance by this (or any other current) team, whereas in 1990, it was every game.

    Tonight was typical of the season in that the game was plagued by missed free throws, spotty defensive intensity, too much reliance on three-point shots, and not enough selfless play. Like it was for BYU, this game was lost in the first half.

    If the Rebels want to peak late in the season, like the BYU game suggested they might, they must play with full intensity for at least 30 minutes.

    Just the two cents of a lifelong fan who saw the 1977 Final Four team play at the Rotunda...

  47. Shaw more minutes? Offensively...yes. But he kills us on the defensive glass because he simply has no vertical....and they had 19 second chance pts, outrebounded us by 22 boards...22! And none more critical then when down by two Hobson skys over Shaw for the board and put back. Ballgame. Tough cards for sure because he is a nice option on the other end. Jasper's absence was huge in that regard because we could use his length on the def glass as opposed to Marshall smaller frame there...but it is what it is. Rebels came out flat and paid for it.

  48. Anthony Marshall is fast.

  49. Recruit better athletes.
    Rebounding:
    45-23

  50. Two homne losses in conference....kiss the regular season title goodbye and kiss the top 25 goodbye!

    Can we ever beat a team that plays a zone against us...

    Absolutely ridiculous how badly we were out rebounded. At one point during the game the 5 they had on the floor had a combined 34 rebounds; ours had 13.

  51. Hey Sufferin, why is everything about Lon's career here? Without him I doubt there are 18,000 plus at the last two home games. Thats something that hasn't happened in 18 years.
    Let's face it. It was a bad night. A lot of the guys had a bad game. Did anyone think that Chace would have only 4 points?
    Not having Derrick Jasper tonight really hurt and its going to hurt for the next two.
    At worst the road trip is a must split.
    And for everyone wanting more minutes from Matt Shaw or two of the bigs to play at once, don't you think New Mexico had enough open 3's

  52. Lon Kruger's career? He's done more with what the NCAA left us after their political dismantling of the program than anyone else. If you want to rail against someone or something, rail against those self-righteous NCAA a**holes.

  53. Highlite of the night???? Kalee Whipple at the buzzer!!!!!! Broad has a better jumper than any Rebel.

    Mee, I'm throwing a party when Matt Shaw runs out of eligibility. I need your help with the guest list. Thanx...

  54. The game aside, I have to say that UNLV has one of the worst, worst, "fan" bases around. With a few minutes left to go and the Rebels still within the realm of a comeback, you look up in the stands and all you see is an exodus for the doors. At least the students are finally filling up more than a sliver of the T&M and they were on their feet the whole game.

    Obviously, this is not directed at the people who post here (as there are many passionate, knowledgeable fans that do), but in the 20 or so D-1 arenas I have seen games at, never have I seen a more fickle and less caring crowd than here.

    Does it have an effect on a team to see people heading for the exits, hoping to beat the traffic, when you are mounting a comeback in what was a pretty decent game? Hard to say. But is sure as hell doesn't help.

  55. As a rebel fan for almost 40 years I have mixed feelings about the loss to New Mexico last night. Certainly I hate seeing us lose anytime but especially at home. I am pleased however that the overall direction of the program under Kruger has certainly moved in the right direction. I wonder though if UNLV will ever return to national dominance, will it ever become a reality for us in my lifetime and or under Kruger. UNLV is a good "mid major" basketball team. They and our program are much better off than we were since Tarkanian was forced out. I remember the painful days under Massimino, Bayno, and Spoonhour. I also remember the lean days of the early 80's under Tark. The difference then was that we had not yet won a national championship. My expectations were lower then. Kruger has done a good job of righting our ship and putting the program back on solid ground. He has been good for UNLV. However a pattern is beginning to emerge. It appears that this is about as good as we get under Kruger. It appears that being a good mid major basketball team is about all we can expect with him. I say that with the thought in the back of my mind, "maybe next year will be the year"? Then I notice, I thought that last year and the year before and the year before. The pattern is the same as the year before. We appear to be good and have a great potential, then we fall and slip. All the while being told that things will get better and we are always a work in progress. I wonder if my expectations or desire to return to national dominance is just a pipe dream and one that cannot be realized in today's college basketball world. Maybe this is all I have a right to expect? Maybe UNLV will never return to a consistent contender for a national title. Maybe I am out of line with my expectations and should be satisfied that we are better off now. Maybe I should just be happy with our success and forget about the fact that we are unable to win the conference outright. Maybe next year will be the year"

  56. Sufferin, you've been saying that about "the next two games" for the past several games.

    Give it a rest you fair-weather fan.

  57. revbobdobbs,

    I think if the parking lot wasn't managed so poorly, we wouldn't have that problem. They could do SO much better at getting people out of that place. How about opening up the right turn exit on Trop? Or what about holding traffic every other light so people don't spend 45 min in the lot? Maybe I'm missing something but they sure don't do a good job of getting people out of there.

    Also, they shouldn't have built that parking garage there and they know it, it should have been behind In-N-Out.