Sunday, Jan. 10, 2010 | midnight
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Ryan Greene and Christine Killimayer reflect on what turned out to be The Kendall Wallace Show in Albuquerque on Saturday, as UNLV took down No. 15 New Mexico, 74-62, behind the junior guard's seven 3-pointers. Plus, a look back at what was the first week of Mountain West play.
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Following UNLV losses, it's a safe bet that junior guard Tre'Von Willis will be the last player — the last human, actually — out of the Rebels' locker room.
Following a 77-73 loss Wednesday at BYU, that was the case, and when he spoke with the media, one could sense in his words a feeling of responsibility for UNLV losing a late six-point lead on the road.
Willis had seven turnovers on the night, with three coming during that collapse down the stretch.
He was silent and efficient in two practices in the aftermath of that loss and felt vindicated following Saturday's 74-62 road upset of No. 15 New Mexico.
"I definitely took the BYU game personally," he said. "We had 15 turnovers as a team. I had seven of them. That's almost half. Tonight, I wanted to take care of the ball. I had one turnover on the travel call.
"I want to make plays for this team."
Aside from limiting himself to just one giveaway, Willis provided UNLV with its pulse on offense in the first half, as his steady hand and 13 points led the Rebels into the locker room with a 36-30 lead.
Once everything was all said and done in The Pit, Willis found no need to linger and reflect in the visitor's dressing room. He finished the day with 20 points on 6-of-13 shooting with four assists, two rebounds and two steals.
"We wanted to start aggressive and take the fight to them," Willis said. "We knew we were in their building, a hostile environment where they were undefeated so far. It was a hard game, but we fought, fought, fought and got the result we wanted."
Inside the numbers
A look inside the box score from Saturday's game in Albuquerque.
• Aided largely by the game-high 21 points from Kendall Wallace, UNLV's bench outscored New Mexico's, 25-4.
• Despite losing his luster when he came out of the game midway through the second half, New Mexico star Darington Hobson still got his numbers. Hobson, who played his freshman season of prep ball in Las Vegas at Western High, tallied 14 points, seven rebounds and four assists.
• For the second game in a row, UNLV's defense was able to take a transition-happy opponent out of its comfort zone. New Mexico scored only three fast-break points, just a game after BYU tallied only four points in transition against the Rebels.
• Kendall Wallace's seven 3-pointers were the most that New Mexico has allowed to an individual opponent since UNLV's Kevin Kruger went 7-of-9 from long range in an 85-83 victory at The Pit in 2007.
• The loss for New Mexico was its first in The Pit this season. The game also gave Lon Kruger a 2-4 record in Albuquerque in his five-plus seasons at UNLV.
Marshall provides defensive spark
Freshman guard Anthony Marshall's nine minutes tied a career low, but the Mojave High grad contributed two of his most memorable plays of the season.
The first came late in the first half, as he capped a 6-0 run for the Rebels after New Mexico tied things up, 24-24. On that play, he swiped a pass near the sideline at mid-court and soared uncontested for a two-handed jam — his only bucket of the night.
His second steal helped finish UNLV's crucial 11-0 second half run which, in essence, sealed the victory.
Squaring up in the left corner on the defensive end, New Mexico's Dairese Gary lobbed an entry pass into the post, but Marshall quickly sprung up off of the floor, extended his long arms in the air and picked off the pass. That ultimately led to a Chace Stanback 3-pointer.
What's on tap?
While UNLV ended its first week of Mountain West Conference play with a boost, its upcoming opponent — San Diego State — ended with a thud.
The Aztecs were the first team this week to upset New Mexico, doing so at home Tuesday, 74-64.
They did so for the most part without star junior forward and Green Valley High grad Billy White.
The momentum didn't count for much, apparently, as the Aztecs fell to Wyoming on the road Saturday, 85-83.
Steve Fisher's club (12-4, 1-1) will take on the Rebels at 7 p.m. Wednesday at the Thomas & Mack Center.
What they'll bring to the table is the great unknown, as SDSU has been one the league's most up-and-down teams this season.
At their best, the Aztecs can beat anyone. At their worst, the Aztecs can lose to anyone.
After sweeping all three games against UNLV last season, SDSU advanced to the semifinals of the NIT, then graduated four of its five starters.
Fisher reloaded with a hefty class of freshmen and transfers, highlighted by frosh forward Kawhi Leonard.
A high ankle sprain likely will keep White out of his homecoming game.
Typically, the Aztecs are as consistent as point guard D.J. Gay plays. They don't have a true point guard, but the junior fits the bill better than anyone else they have.
The final word
Chace Stanback on his 14-point, nine-rebound performance: "That's what I like to do — I love to rebound. Coach has been pushing me to be an offensive threat. I knew I had to step up in this game and come through for us."