Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun
Published Saturday, Feb. 18, 2012 | 3 p.m.
Updated Saturday, Feb. 18, 2012 | 3:15 p.m.
- BOX SCORE: New Mexico 65, UNLV 45
- The Rebels get another shot at first place with nationally televised game at New Mexico
- UNLV’s first practice at Mendenhall Center a chance to move past ‘disgusting’ loss
- Rebels fail to execute game plan and drop another road game, 102-97 at TCU
- UNLV Notes: Giving up offensive rebounds on the whole team, not just post players
- 2011-12 UNLV Men's Basketball Schedule
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ALBUQUERQUE — The postgame debate Saturday about whether New Mexico forward Drew Gordon really had 19 rebounds, as it was announced at The Pit, or 20, as it showed up in the box score, tells you all you need to know about UNLV’s day.
Here’s another clue: the Rebels and Gordon each scored the same amount of second-half points (18).
After leading by one at halftime, No. 11 UNLV (22-6, 6-4) went cold while Gordon caught fire, finishing with 27 points and 20 rebounds, as the Lobos (22-4, 8-2) ran out the Rebels and handed them a 65-45 defeat.
New Mexico now leads UNLV and the rest of the conference by two games, after San Diego State lost 58-56 at Air Force later Saturday afternoon.
This postgame wasn’t full of the same disgust the Rebels had after blowing an 18-point lead in a loss at TCU on Tuesday. UNLV let that one get away. This one it just couldn’t win.
In fact, taking them at their word, the Rebels thought Saturday’s 20-point loss was pretty easy to explain: New Mexico is very good and UNLV didn’t make shots.
“We tried to battle, thought we got good looks in the second half and just were not able to get them in,” UNLV coach Dave Rice said.
With just about 12 minutes left, the game was tied. A little more than three minutes later, New Mexico led by 12. From there, the Rebels never got closer than 10, finishing the second half shooting 4-for-17 from the field. Besides junior guard Anthony Marshall, who led the team with 18 points and 10 rebounds, the Rebels scored just six points in the second half. Sophomore forward Mike Moser scored six points in the first two minutes, then just two for the rest of the game.
“I wouldn’t say we were out of sync, we just didn’t make shots,” Marshall said.
Added Moser, “Just couldn’t make shots. That kind of summed it up.”
New Mexico and The Pit crowd had a lot to do with those misses.
During their current seven-game winning streak, the Lobos are giving up 49.6 points per game while holding opponents to 34.2 percent shooting from the field. They’ve won their games by an average of 20.9 points per game.
So UNLV isn’t the first team to run into this buzz saw.
“They’re playing at a high level, and then you throw in the atmosphere and their confidence,” Rice said.
Gordon ignited the Lobos’ run, but guards Tony Snell (12 points) and Demetrius Walker (nine points) each had key 3-pointers, and Snell dished out a game-high five assists as well as a couple of highlight dunks after beating Chace Stanback off the dribble.
“They’re playing as a team,” Marshall said. “Not one guy is trying to do everything.”
Once Gordon hit a couple of mid-range jumpers it really opened up his arsenal.
“When he’s right, when he’s good like he was today, they can play with anyone in the country,” Rice said.
Moser, who drew the assignment on his former UCLA teammate for much of the game, said he really struggled to move around the baseline screens New Mexico employed. Then when Rice ran double teams at him, Gordon found his teammates.
“He made some things happen, and then once we made adjustments to guard him he started finding guys on the perimeter,” Marshall said. “They worked it inside and out.”
This was UNLV’s last best chance to win the regular season conference title. That opportunity swirled the drain with every missed shot in the second half.
This is a new feeling for this year’s team and its first-year coach. The Rebels had always responded well from losses this season, and now they’ve got their first two-game losing streak of the season.
“This is certainly the most adversity that we’ve gone through this season,” Rice said. “… That’s a disappointing fact, but there’s still a lot of games to be played.”
Now the Rebels get to go home, where they will have to prove themselves all over again.