Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun
Published Saturday, March 16, 2013 | 1:20 p.m.
Updated Saturday, March 16, 2013 | 5:28 p.m.
- Rebels roll into Mountain West title game behind team effort against CSU
- Instant Analysis: Katin Reinhardt might have found his shooting stroke in leading UNLV past Colorado State
- BOX SCORE: UNLV75, Colorado State 65
- BLOG: UNLV beats Colorado State, 75-65, in advancing to Mountain West Conference finals
- Rebels preparing for ‘electric’ semifinals Friday night at the Mack
- Rebels wallop injured Falcons to advance to MWC semifinals
- Instant Analysis: Could the Rebels have their swagger back after 16-point league tournament win against Air Force?
- All UNLV men's basketball coverage
- All Mountain West Conference tournament coverage
New Mexico 63, UNLV 56
Tony Snell scored 13 of New Mexico's final 17 points and Kendall Williams punctuated the Lobos' 63-56 victory against UNLV with a 360 dunk that clinched the Mountain West tournament title, giving New Mexico both crowns this season. The Lobos won the regular season by multiple games.
Snell finished with 21 points and Williams scored 12. UNLV's Anthony Bennett scored the team's first 11 points but finished with only 15. Bryce Dejean-Jones led the Rebels with 19 points while Katin Reinhardt finished with 11.
The story from UNLV's perspective is going to be how the offense went so badly. The Rebels took far too many jumpers, including plenty of 3s, and rarely worked the ball in to the paint. Bennett scored only two points in the second half, and they came on a simple post-up and drop-step move that the Rebels rarely looked for.
Part of that is definitely because of New Mexico's defense. After Bennett's hot start the Lobos, and specifically Cameron Bairstow, adjusted and made Bennett's life much more difficult. However, UNLV's reaction to that adjustment can't be to just settle for bad shots. That's what did them in at the Thomas & Mack Center on Saturday afternoon and it could also be their undoing in the NCAA Tournament if they're not careful.
New Mexico played well the entire game and it may have had enough to come out on top even if UNLV played better offense. But the Rebels didn't challenge the Lobos' defense nearly enough and once Snell got rolling the Rebels defenders often spent more time looking for fouls than guarding the lanky shooter.
The Lobos look solid for a 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament while the Rebels, who fell to 25-9, are looking at a possible 6 or 7 seed. The NCAA Tournament selection show is at 3 p.m. on Sunday afternoon. This year the Rebels' watch party is not open to the public.
Check lasvegassun.com for a full report from tonight's Rebels' loss.
New Mexico 52, UNLV 47
7:08 remaining in the second half
Tony Snell is catching fire against any and all defenders UNLV throws at him, which is obviously a problem for the Rebels down the stretch. Snell is running along the baseline until he gets just open enough for a jumper and most of them haven't even touched the rim.
The Rebels' offense has been a series of contested 3-pointers and long jumpers for the most part. They're 2-for-9 out there in the second half. On the bright side, Anthony Bennett scored for the first time since the 12-minute mark of the first half, and he did it with a simple post up and drop step for a layup. That's been there most of the game if the Rebels would just go and take it.
New Mexico 40, UNLV 36
15:39 remaining in the second half
Three offensive rebounds led to zero points for UNLV, a problem the Rebels need to address. Katin Reinhardt has both of UNLV's made baskets so far, both of them coming on short jumpers in the lane.
On that one possession, the Rebels never got an open shot within 15 feet, instead shooting from deep and once off-balance. I said it at halftime but the Rebels absolutely must get some type of inside game going. These jumpers aren't going to cut it.
New Mexico 34, UNLV 32
Katin Reinhardt hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer to pull UNLV within two of New Mexico at halftime of the Mountain West tournament final Saturday afternoon at the Thomas & Mack Center.
Anthony Bennett scored UNLV's first 11 points and closed the half with 13 points but the Lobos' balanced attack has been enough for the halftime lead. Hugh Greenwood has three 3-pointers for nine points while Tony Snell has eight points and three assists.
Since scoring those 11 points, Bennett has settled almost exclusively for 3-point attempts, missing three in a row. It's possible he's frustrated at not getting the ball when he's posting up, especially when you consider Lobos guard Kendall Williams was the guy guarding him for a couple of those possessions.
New Mexico is shooting 45 percent to UNLV's 37 although the Rebels lead rebounding by six. The teams are even with 12 points in the paint.
UNLV is going to have to play better defense to win. The Lobos are getting into the lane pretty much whenever they want and the Rebels can only turn away so many of those attempts. Offensively the Rebels need to get a few more looks inside, either from Bennett or Khem Birch, who has made some nice moves but missed both of his shot attempts.
New Mexico 26, UNLV 22
7:56 remaining in the first half
New Mexico is attacking UNLV's defense every opportunity it gets. The Rebels are shooting jumpers. That's the crux of our scoring margin right now as the Lobos are getting more quality looks at the basket.
UNLV isn't devoid of that offense, it's just less frequent right now. Anthony Marshall is doing well with drives to the lane but Anthony Bennett has settled for contested jumpers on his last two shots after such a hot start. Hugh Greenwood has six points for New Mexico while Alex Kirk has been held mostly in check with four points.
The Lobos had assists on their first eight made baskets and right now they have nine assists on 11 baskets. In other words, they're excelling with the exact type of play UNLV coach Dave Rice wants to see his team utilize.
UNLV 11, New Mexico 11
14:21 remaining in the first half
Anthony Bennett's tournament performance didn't seem like it could get any better. The UNLV freshman is putting that theory to the test early against New Mexico, where Bennett scored the Rebels' first 11 points.
Bennett is 5-for-6, and that's included two dunks, a 3-pointer, a jumper and a layup. He's doing it all on offense, and this coming after he shot 16-for-22 in the tournament's firs two games, totaling 42 points.
Defensively things aren't going nearly as well for the Rebels. New Mexico is running a lot of pick and rolls that are challenging Bennett and Mike Moser to make decisions. So far the Lobos are getting the better of those matchups.
As far as hype and buildup are concerned, this is as good a Mountain West tournament title game as we could have hoped for: third-seeded UNLV (25-8) vs. top-seeded and 15th-ranked New Mexico (28-5).
The Thomas & Mack Center will be filled to the rafters with red, gray and white, only a few shades distinguishing one rabid fanbase from the other. If the game itself is even half as good as the fans and national media in town are expecting it to be, then we’re in for a really fun finish to what has been a solid tournament.
So what’s actually going to happen today? Well, if one team wins at least two of these three “individual” matchups, it's going to have the upper hand.
Kendall Williams vs. Anthony Marshall
The Mountain West Player of the Year vs. the Rebel who should have been on the first team, in my opinion. Both of these guys have reputations of not taking plays off at either end, and they’re both more likely to try to bull through you than pull up for a jumper.
Williams’ tournament numbers haven’t been much, but he’s doing his job as the leader and getting the ball into everybody’s hands.
Tony Snell vs. Bryce Dejean-Jones
San Diego State’s Jamaal Franklin couldn’t check Snell, and now the task falls primarily to Dejean-Jones, who has probably been the most consistent Rebel over the past three weeks. When Snell gets going early, it doesn’t matter if there’s a hand in his face, so Dejean-Jones’ defense needs to be ramped up from the start.
When Snell is on defense, Dejean-Jones has the clear advantage.
Hopefully foul trouble doesn’t rob us of more Birch defense because UNLV could really use his presence inside. Of course, the thing about Kirk is he’s just as comfortable dragging defenders out to the perimeter, where they’re less comfortable and a lot less useful as helpers.
Bennett will once again start the game at center, but once Birch comes in, that will be the real matchup to see.
The Rebels have lost exactly nine games each of the past three seasons, meaning there’s only one loss left for UNLV to match that total this season. Will it happen today or in the NCAA Tournament?
THE OTHER SIDE
New Mexico projected lineup
G — Kendall Williams, 6-4, Jr, 13.1 ppg, 5.3 apg, 3.7 rpg
G — Hugh Greenwood, 6-3, So, 7.3 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 2.6 apg
G — Tony Snell, 6-7, Jr, 13.1 ppg, 3.1 rpg, 83.7 ft%
F — Cameron Bairstow, 6-9, Jr, 10.6 ppg, 6 rpg, 48.4 fg%
F — Alex Kirk, 7-0, So, 12.9 ppg, 8.8 rpg, 50 fg%
Sixth man — F, Chad Adams, 6-6, Sr, 3.8 ppg, 2.4 rpg, 0.7 spg
*Stats from conference games only
Jan. 9 at New Mexico — Tale of UNLV’s league-opening loss can’t be told by one number alone
Feb. 9 at UNLV — Motivated Rebels snap skid by controlling New Mexico in the Mack
Kenpom line: UNLV -2
Vegas line: UNLV -2.5
Bern’s pick: UNLV 68, New Mexico 64