REBELS BASKETBALL:

No. 23 UNLV ‘out-worked’ by No. 15 New Mexico in 76-66 setback

Kruger’s club victimized by 45-23 rebounding margin and Lobos’ hot 3-point shooting

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Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun

UNLV guard Anthony Marshall and New Mexico forwards A.J. Hardeman (L) and Roman Martinez chase a loose ball during the second half of their Mountain West Conference game Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2010, at the Thomas & Mack Center. The Lobos held off a late Rebel charge to win 76-66.

#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.

UNLV-New Mexico Basketball

UNLV guard Anthony Marshall looks at the scoreboard as the final seconds tick away during the second half of their Mountain West Conference game against New Mexico Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2010, at the Thomas & Mack Center. The Lobos held off a late Rebel charge to win 76-66. Launch slideshow »
The Rebel Room

NEW MEXICO POSTGAME: Rebels get boarded up

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Ryan Greene and Ray Brewer take a look at just what went wrong in No. 23 UNLV's Wednesday night 76-66 home loss to No. 15 New Mexico. The Rebels were handled on the boards, but can they bounce back in time for Saturday's tough road trip to face San Diego State.

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It's not that Tre'Von Willis was at a loss for words, but he just knew what was at the root of what went wrong for No. 23 UNLV on Wednesday in a 76-66 home loss to No. 15 New Mexico.

There was no need to elaborate too much.

"Because they out-hustled us," he said in a humbled tone.

From that flawed intangible, problems snowballed for the Rebels (19-5 overall, 7-3 Mountain West Conference), who couldn't capitalize on the momentum from a resounding 88-74 victory over then-No. 12 BYU just four days earlier at the Thomas & Mack Center.

First came the red-hot 3-point shooting for the Lobos (22-3, 8-2), who hit their first five long-range attempts.

Then came the Rebels hurrying to take too big of chunks out of a growing deficit by settling for contested, out-of-rhythm 3-pointer after out-of-rhythm 3-pointer.

And that was topped by the Lobos scurrying after seemingly every loose ball just a little more aggressively than the hosts, helping stymie every comeback attempt UNLV could piece together. In the end, that contributed to a 45-23 victory in the rebounding column for New Mexico and 19 second-chance points.

"New Mexico pretty much whipped us in every aspect of the game," UNLV coach Lon Kruger said. "Rebounding the basketball, they were quicker to loose balls, and they shot it extremely well."

In front of a crowd of 18,044 that was still pretty much in euphoria 96 hours removed from Saturday's blowout, the Lobos followed the lead of junior forward and Vegas native Darington Hobson, who was a catalyst behind the hot start. Before several in attendance could down their first hot dog or soda, Steve Alford's club was up 10-2.

"We just came in with confidence. Coach told us to come out, be confident and loose," said Hobson, who continually interacted with the crowd in the arena where he watched countless games as a kid.

After constructing a lead as big as 15 points in the first half, the Lobos did to the Rebels exactly what they did in a losing effort at home on Jan. 9 — bully UNLV underneath.

UNLV was hurried in trying to get out from the hole created early and began chucking up 3-pointers by the bunches.

In the end, the Rebels were 10-of-30 on 3-pointers and attempted 28 shots from inside the arc.

"It started outside real early," said sophomore guard Oscar Bellfield, who was 4-of-10 from outside and led UNLV with 15 points. "We should have worked our way inside and then brought it back out.

"We were just going too fast. The pace was going too fast and people weren't really thinking and, I mean, that's just something we can learn from."

Still, as dangerous as it can be to rely on the deep ball to overcome a deficit, it nearly helped the Rebels steal a game that New Mexico physically controlled for much of the night.

UNLV found itself trailing 61-43 with 11:40 to play, and after a 30-second timeout, somehow rallied together for a 20-4 run that included two of Bellfield's treys and seven points from Willis.

A pair of Willis free throws pulled UNLV to within two points at 65-63 with 3:38 to go, but that's when New Mexico reasserted itself underneath.

Rebounding prowess isn't controlled by a switch that flips on and off, and New Mexico showed late that it never went away inside.

After Willis hit the charities, the 6-foot-7 Hobson got the ball in a one-on-one situation along the left wing. He drove hard, trying to draw contact. After missing a layup, he ripped down the loose ball, went up and softly flicked two points in off of the iron.

"Seventeen offensive rebounds, you're not winning the 50-50 balls, not doing the things you have to to get second shots, especially there late," Kruger said. "You certainly can't afford to give up second shots at that time."

Added Willis: "He went to the offensive glass, and that's where he got all of his money at."

That was followed by a Willis turnover — he slipped while driving down the right side of the lane and was not awarded a foul call in traffic — and a Phillip McDonald corner 3-pointer all but sealed it.

"Doesn't matter if I think it was a foul or not. It was a no-call; I'll play with it," Willis said. "It was very frustrating, especially in your building when you get out-worked. It's not what we want to be about and we can't come out and bring efforts like that."

The Lobos' ability to control things inside wasn't some big surprise, either.

New Mexico, which entered ranking second in the Mountain West in average rebounding margin at plus-5.7, won the battle on the boards in the first meeting with UNLV in Albuquerque on Jan. 9, 41-30.

Doing a good amount of the heavy lifting was Hobson, who snatched 13 rebounds to go with his game-high 16 points and four assists in front of countless family members and friends.

"One of the main things we try to do is just pursue the ball. We worked on it all week in practice," he said. "They play four guards and we play four guards, so we knew it was going to be a battle on the boards, so one of the main things we tried to do was just pursue the ball."

It also didn't hurt the Lobos' cause that they hit 11 of the 21 3-point attempts they hoisted, highlighted by a 4-of-8 performance from senior forward Roman Martinez. New Mexico had similar open looks from outside in the first meeting, but hit only four of 18 3-point tries in that contest.

On the flip side, the offensive guns, which did the brunt of the scoring for UNLV in the trip to Albuquerque last month, were more than accounted for.

Willis's 13 points came the hard way, as he was just 4-of-13 from the floor and 1-of-5 from deep.

Chace Stanback, who had his break-out game in the 74-62 triumph at The Pit with 14 points and nine rebounds, produced just four points on 2-of-8 shooting and four rebounds in 34 minutes of play.

Only one of his rebounds came on the defensive end, and UNLV finished with only 15 defensive boards to combat New Mexico's 17 offensive caroms.

Improving in that area before taking on San Diego State on the road this Saturday afternoon could prove to be more important than anything.

The Aztecs, who are tops in the league in average rebounding margin at plus-7.8, also swarmed the offensive glass in their first meeting with the Rebels.

However, that was just the third leg of a 16-game Mountain West Conference schedule.

Now, with UNLV having been knocked down a rung from what was a three-way tie in first with New Mexico and BYU, the margin for error continues to shrink. The trip to San Diego for Saturday's 1 p.m. tip is the first leg in a crucial two-game road swing, which ends in Salt Lake City next Wednesday night against Utah.

"They just came after it, and I guess they just wanted it more," Bellfield said. "That's what we have to take at San Diego State, be really after it from beginning to end."

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  1. If only Stanback had taken a lesson in taking a huge dive from Jackson Emery, maybe Hobson would have been thrown out and we could have won.....

  2. Out of the polls and back towards the bubble we go. It sure would be nice if the Rebs would not always screw up every time they get ranked. It is the kiss of death.

  3. San Diego St. will be coming at us just like the Lobos did. Aztecs are a much better offensive rebounding team than New mexico. I hope we play a bigger line-up instead of 4 guards, but i'm not too optimistic. Kruger seems to be set in his ways about his strategy.

    I don't understand why we can't ever go to a zone, espcially when were getting abused on the high pick leaving wide open wingmen in the corners for easy 3's all night long. You go to a zone and they have to try something different.

  4. 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"

  5. hipp, nice post.

  6. Has anyone else noticed that Kruger's Corner is not in the Corner.

  7. Very frustrated at the shooting NM put up last night. It was like they couldn't miss. We had more steals, assists, blocks, and half as many turn overs, but boards are more important.

    NM was a 1 trick pony last night with the pick and roll, I think I counted 11 or 12, and 10 of those were successful, and 1 was kicked out for a 3.

    If you were at the game, I have no need to explain the ref situation either. I dont think their calls lost it for us, per se, but it was absolutely one of the most unprofessional group I have seen in awhile.

    Jasper would have had an impact last night with the rebounding. We are still in good standing though, and I am optimistic about our future with some other upsets happening around the league. This year it's any team's year.

  8. New Mexico is a beast when they make it rain like they did last night. I'm proud of our boys for sucking it up and making a run at them.

    You just can't win a ball game when you keep throwing up 3's that aren't going in. I can't believe how many times we settled for an out of rhythmn longball. It looked almost identical to the Wink, Darger, Rene garbage they called a halfcourt offense. Wink couldn't rise above and lead us into a better offense and so far this year we have seen far more glimpses of a much better half court offense.

    Hopefully Tre' and Chace will learn from this beating and recognize that you have to be way more aggressive and get to the line. We had the chance to keep Hobson in foul trouble but we didn't attack him and capitalize on it.

    We don't have the athleticism and size to out rebound NM and SDSU especially with Wallace starting while Jasper rehabilitates.

    I figured we would drop a game to either NM or SDSU but I was thinking that it would be to the Aztecs on the road. We will still be okay but the pressure is on now. We can't afford to come out flat and give away anymore games or we will be relegated to having to win the conference tourney if any of us want to be able to write UNLV on our bracket.

    Can we get an update on how Jasper's coming along?

    GO REBS!!!!!!!!!!!

  9. Sofaking - ya that group of refs, everytime i've seen them call a UNLV game, definatly has something against UNLV. It makes me sick to sit there and watch the most blatantly biased calls ever. There were at least 10 times where NM blatantly fouled us on offense and defense and to the amazement of the entire crowd no call was made. Then the times that NM fouled us and a call was made and everyone was like, "finaly a right call" and then a second later the ref signaling that the call was against UNLV. It's really hard for a team to establish a presence down low when everytime you go down low you get thrown around and then get called for a foul. NM was allowed to completely get away with anything and everything they wanted to last night and to top it off we were getting the fouls. The refs should be fired for their actions last night. It is destroying the credability of the game and as fans everyone should take the 5 minutes out of thier lives to call and make a complaint against these officials. The commissioner's name is Craig Thompson and his phone number is 719-488-4047.

  10. you combine their 3pt shooting and the rebounding margin and New Mexico, just like UNLV vs BYU, would have beaten any team in the country. I was impressed that our guys fought back. Whatever happened to refs calling more fouls against the away teams? Not for UNLV i guess. that non-call where Tre "slipped" sealed the deal for New Mexico. There were a lot of suspect calls, but New Mexico was a better team last night. I think if we pick up this road win in San Diego we may still be ranked come Monday. Sometimes I think I prefer the underdog roll, but we need the ranking to attract better players. Suck it up Rebels, let's roll those Aztecs Saturday.

  11. No way they win on saturday- just don't want to get embarassed. If they win the rest of their regular season games after SDS, they'll be a lock for the NCAA. This loss just means there can be no slip ups against the lesser teams in the league.

  12. The half of the game that I was able to see, sure seemed like Tre was forcing it a lot. Some of those dump offs to the bigs after he penetrated were very sloppy.
    When did sliding with the ball become legal? The past two games when there has been a scramble for a loose ball, our opponents have gotten it on the floor and slid. I thought that was always considered travelling . . .

  13. As a rebel fan, I'm embarrassed at all of the crying about the officials. Thats the first sign of sore losers. UNM is a great team and played like it. Quit being little punks and crying about the calls in our own gym.

  14. Officiating was pathetic, but it works both ways. The guy with the short hair who constantly threw his hands in the air trying to claim he couldn't see when he was 6 feet from a play was brutal. He was just an inexperienced official afraid to make a call. The 10 minutes it took to decide whether ot not to throw Hobson out was another sign of a poorly lead officiating crew. Make a decision, wrong right or whatever in a reasonable amount of time as it would give a little more credibility to the crew.

    Kruger read this carefully. Chop Jones is not a 4, will never be a 4, and you continually embarass knowledgable fans by playing him at the 4. You have historically shown a paranoia to play and/or develop big men. Play Shaw behind Chace at the 4. Play Brice and Santee at the 5. If you want to play Chop so bad, play him at the guard. There was nothing funny about watching him jump up and down in the middle of a bunch of 6'7" to 6'9" men. Get over yourself and do it. Shaw will get beat off the dribble once in a while, so what. That's why you have help, but at least he can score and rebound. Chace will have bad nights, but you have to bring in a big or SDSU and Utah will beat you. It is always about matchups. Four guards against four forwards will get out rebounded every day. What did you expect to happen?

  15. Officiating? Are these Rebel fans or BYU fans? I thought only Cougar fans complained about the refs. The one thing I do know is that LOSERS usually complain about the refs. New Mexico dominated UNLV last night. Watch out Rebels, lose to SDSU on saturday and you guys are on the BUBBLE.

  16. Plain and simple they got out played last night... I typically am not a fan of the officiating, but last night we had a great opportunity to really tighten up on D and we didn't... The refs were not calling anything on both sides.... When they are calling a game that loose we really need to play tight, but it didn't happen...

    I will say Marshall was a bright spot last night... That kid played tough...

    And for those of you that were able to catch the whole game, did it seem like Wallace got too many unproductive minutes? I mean I think it is great when he comes off the bench and hits a few clutch threes to get the crowd going, but with him in last night it was like 4 on 5 on the defensive end... I mean he went 3 of 6 from three point land last night which is a plus, but defensively it always looked like they had a man open with him in...

  17. Go_Rebels is right on all accounts: Chop Jones looks out of place on the floor (even if it is for just 6 minutes)...consider this:

    Matt Shaw had 12 points, 3 boards, and 1 assist in 17 minutes.

    Tre' Willis had 13 points, 4 boards, and 10 assists in 38 minutes.

    Chop Jones had 0 points, 0 boards, and 0 assists in 6 minutes.

    For those who watched the game, what kind of impact do you think Matt Shaw would have had if he had played another 10-15 minutes? I don't understand why he's not either starting or first man off the bench.

  18. I'm as disappointed with the loss as everyone, but you could look and sort of see the writing on the wall in this one. New Mexico was coming in looking for revenge and we were coming off our best game of the year against our biggest rival. As much as I hate to say it, we were ripe for a let down. Combine that with New Mexico coming out against us the same way we came out against BYU and it was tough. I didn't think the officiating was that bad. There were some ticky-tack fouls called at the beginning of the game against us and there were probably 3 travels they didn't call and 1 5-second they didn't call... right after they didn't call one of the travels. The bottom line is we got out-rebounded by a huge margin and against a team as good as UNM, that can't happen.
    I think the big win against BYU still puts us in really good shape as far as the NCAA tournament goes. Even though it was a home loss, it was still against the #15 team in the country and we still split the season series with the other great teams in our conference. As long as we don't lose another home game and win 1 or 2 of our remaining road games (a win @SDSU probably secures it, but if not, we need the last 2) we're in. This loss won't look as bad as the win @ The Pit looks good to the committee. I'm heading to San Diego tomorrow for the next one. SDSU is fresh off nearly a 30-point win last night... they might be ripe for the picking.

  19. The Rebels were not "victimized" by the rebounding margin. The only thing they are a victim of is not aggressively pursuing the ball.

  20. I would also like to personally apologize for the loss last night. I brought my mom to the game. I figure she is the jinx. The only other game I brought her to was the K-State game. I let her know she can't come anymore. My bad.

  21. haha nice one MikeLange, Thanks for shouldering this one.

  22. im sad today.... so so so close.

  23. Blaming the refs is always a bogus excuse. We always tend to look at things with our heart not our head. That being said, I haven't been this disgusted with a Rebel performance all year. Last year we saw game after game like this with lack of energy and urgency costing us. Hopefully this team can learn to actually play two big games in a row. Much like the win over NM followed by the Utah loss they can never seem to focus after a big win. One thing that hasn't been mentioned, but should not be used as an excuse, is the scheduling. How can you play the top two teams in succession, then play one of the toughest matchups we always have, then follow that with the #4 team in the league, finally ending up with the worst four teams? If the schedule had played out with a game versus a bad team in between some of these big games we could have survived a down game. No excuse since they need to be ready to play every game but it would have helped.

  24. We got abused on the boards and out muscled down low. Typical Kruger. Hobson played 23 mins and has as many rebounds as our entire starting lineup (13 boards). Typical, stubborn Kruger doesn't play a zone and fails to recognize that Shaw had it going on last night. Lose on Saturday and Lon Kruger can look forward to his favorite tournament and what he's known for... the NIT.

  25. Kenns, your right on. Why can't we try a zone when man to man is getting worked. What can you lose? Why can't we bring Shaw in instead of Chop for an extra 6 minutes when we're getting beat on the boards at a 2 to 1 margin? We're getting killed on the boards so lets stick with the 4 guard line-up? Stubborn is the correct word. Great coaches adjust as the game progresses.

  26. Great post by hippocracy. I think alot of us feel that way. Does seem like Kruger's track record suggests he can build a solid program but taking it to the highest level has so far eluded him. He has done an excellent job of at least putting UNLV hoops back in the spotlight but I think after the 2006-07 Sweet Sixteen run alot of us thought we were only going up. It is a subject that has been covered alot but I think it still boils down to recruiting. We can talk strategy and coaching all we want but it is pretty simple...you gotta have the horses. You have to have guys that can make great plays at multiple positions. That is why Tark's teams were ones we all loved. He had guys who on most nights would overmatch opponents by making plays defensively, offensively and on the boards. They overwhelmed you. Coach Kruger does not have those types of guys yet. He has some very nice players for sure but not the type that can beat top 25 teams on a consistent basis and bury lesser conference opponents. I hope that his recruiting will get better and we can field a team that can play the best and beat the best anywhere, anytime. Runnin' Rebels!

  27. Disappointed with last nights game. Bottom line is if we aren't hitting threes we're a very average team. Our rebounding hasn't been very good for the last couple of years, but last night was terrible. Sure hope Jasper gets back fast. Hopefully QT and Lopez can come in and help out on the boards next year. Would like to see Bellfield, Willis, Stanback, Shaw, and Massamba start. Gotta come up big Saturday. Go Rebs.

  28. The worst part about last night is it completely put our weaknesses on the table. Pick and rolls, and rebounding. It's not going to get better saturday with sdsu either, because they are just as good if not better than NM at rebounding. I really hope UNLV shoots well otherwise it is going to be a very long game to watch. Keep your heads up Rebels, and go get em this weekend! WANT IT! You guys worked too hard to get this far and squander it away!

  29. Its never to late to join the Lobo student section and the "WHO DAT LOBO NATION". We will have at least 4 more years of NCAA tournaments with our recruits and current roster!

  30. Do you guys really believe that throwing out a zone defense would have slowed them any? With as well as New Mexico was shooting (11-21 from 3) they would have destroyed the zone. Like wise it doesn't seem like putting in two bigs would have helped our rebounding much. In case you all didn't notice, our big men aren't exactly the best rebounders (Matt had 3, Darris had 2 and Brice just 1). There are definitely things wrong with this team, but I don't think that a zone d or playing two big men at the same time would fix any of them. IMO the biggest thing that hurt us was that we played without our top rebounder and one of our best man to man defenders. Derrick is crucial to the Reb's ability to play bigger, more athlectic teams. I was hoping that in his absence Chace would step up, but that obviously didn't happen last night.

  31. Wow Hobofan, the slogan Who Dat is SOOOO original! No one else in the world uses that one! You should get a copyright!

  32. So no one copies it of course

  33. Yo Chace wake up son...Yes, you Chace...You slept through the game kid.

  34. It all came down to second chance points with the rebounding. They just wanted it more! Another thing to, are "shooting guards" need to step it up and get in extra time in the gym. I don't see any other teams that get half, as open looks as our guys do, and most teams still compete.

  35. CORY JOSEPH congratulations on being named to the McDonald's All-American team!!!!!

    NOW PLEASE COMMIT TO UNLV!!!!! WE PLAY 4 GUARDS AT ALL TIMES! YOU CAN START AND GET PLENTY OF PLAYING TIME YOUR FRESHMAN YEAR!!!

  36. I am a Lobos fan and it is interesting what you guys are saying. People keep going back to the days of Tark (and I was always pulling for him because I can't stand the NCAA). You guys are ripping too much on Kruger. I think he is doing it the right way. I also believe the MWC is moving up as a conference in BB as well as football. People are taking notice. The MWC is getting respect. UNLV is getting respect. UNM got ripped last year by the NCAA but there is no way that is going to happen this year. UNLV will make the big dance. I think the MWC is going to get at least 3 teams and probably 4 (SDSU) will make it. I remember when UNM couldn't win an away game. I was worried UNLV was going to come back. It was an exciting game. You guys have a good team...however, GO LOBOS!!!

  37. Nobody's ripping Kruger here. Just giving honest takes.

    @rebelfanland, We couldn't slow them down in man to man. They were getting wide open 3's. Can't hurt to try a zone. At least you can stop the pick and roll. Shaw did come in and get some rebounds, which is alot compared to the donut Chop gave us. I say give Shaw Chop's 10 minutes. I believe we would get alot more production in every category.

  38. I am fairly optimistic, but I think we are close to the team we want. Are we going to have the '90 Rebels, never going to happen. But we are a good big man, from being a top 10 team. You put LJ into that line-up and we run the table in the MWC and probably sit at 30+. I think we are on the right path.

  39. You people realize that it is harder to rebound out of a zone defense dont you, not that it could have been much worse. Bottom line we saw why and who we will miss Jasper against.

    Tre and Chace not playing well = UNLV loss plain and simple.

  40. where were all you d-bags after the BYU game?

    Lobo69, if you think Hobson will be on your roster next year, you really don't know anything. Even if he doesn't declare for the draft, his academic eligibility is always in question.

    Mike Lange said it best.

    Shaw doesn't start for a reason. We have a three-headed monster for a reason. If any one of those guys was more consistent, they'd be the undisputed starter. Regardless, all three have shown signs of improvement, in most areas except rebounding.

  41. @hippocracy-

    Interesting comments. I see far too many Rebel fans pining for the "good old days" of Tarkanian, but what everyone seems to miss in this rose-tinted retrospect is exactly why UNLV played in so many NCAA tournaments- their conference opponents were incredibly mis-matched against UNLV. UNLV got an automatic bid each year because they won their conference handily most years, playing against teams like UCSB, NMSU, UC-Irvine, CSU-Fullerton, USU, etc... And, like Xavier University and Gonzaga, lots of tournament play equals lots of practice against "elite" programs like UNC, Duke, and Syracuse.

    Playing in the MWC now, UNLV faces more parity than they did in the BWAC. Getting into the tournament has thus gotten more difficult for UNLV simply by virtue of facing tougher conference foes, while the entertainment value of more competitive games has increased. Had Tark's Rebels played in the old WAC in the 80's it would be unlikely that they would have played in as many NCAA tournaments, and Final Fours, and might never have won that Championship in '90.

  42. Rebounding, rebounding, rebounding. Get spanked on the boards, you get spanked on the scoreboard. It's rocket science, i know.

  43. You do have a point GDR however the old Big West had teams like UCSB and New Mexico St that when UNLV was very good would be ranked from time to time just like BYU and New Mexico. In fact the Big West got at least 2 to 3 teams in the tourney just like the MWC. Top to bottom the MWC is better but Tark's teams from 1986-1991 would have worked the MWC as well. Also UNLV would play great non conference competition. In the Champ season of 89-90 alone they played LMU(Kimble, Gathers, Fryer team), California, Depaul, Oklahoma, Kansas, NC State, Temple, Oklahoma St, Arizona, Louisville, and LSU all before the NCAA tourney. That team would have won the title in any conference they were just that good.

  44. @gumby2323-

    Damnit, gumby'... sorry, I just couldn't resist...

    I agree about the 89-91 team, but history is what got them together. Had UNLV not played in the hapless BWAC all those years, would they have been able to attract the kind of talent they did? It begs a lot of questions. I believe it's undeniable that the competition, or lack thereof, had a lot to do with UNLV's routine trips to the NCAA tournament. As they became more competitive, they began playing very tough non-conference opponents, and beating them. But would they have scheduled that way if their road to the tournament wasn't such a waltz? Perhaps not.

    Whether or not Augmon, Johnson and Anthony would have wound up on that team together if UNLV was in a more competitive conference is purely speculative, but it seems pretty logical that their conference schedule played a big part in their getting into all those tournaments.