Published Saturday, Jan. 9, 2010 | 12:42 p.m.
Updated Saturday, Jan. 9, 2010 | 3:05 p.m.
Final, UNLV wins 74-62
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The play of the game on Saturday at The Pit was an Oscar Bellfield dish to Kendall Wallace for a 3-pointer, which put UNLV up 50-46 mid-way through the second half.
It was only the start.
Wallace led UNLV with 21 points, hitting six of his seven 3-pointers after the intermission, as the Rebels ultimately ran away from No. 15 New Mexico, 74-62.
The Rebels led 36-30 at halftime, but New Mexico muscled its way back behind junior Darington Hobson — a Las Vegas native — to take a 46-45 lead with 10:30 to play.
However, Hobson was winded and asked to come out with 9:22 to play, and UNLV ripped off an 11-0 run. The Rebels never looked back.
Wallace's 21 points were a career high, while Tre'Von Willis scored 20. Chace Stanback ahd 14 points and nine rebounds, including a huge trey during that 11-0 spurt.
The Rebels are now 13-3 overall and 1-1 in Mountain West Conference play, and will return home for two games this week, first against San Diego State on Wednesday, then Utah on Saturday.
For full postgame coverage, including stories, stats, photos, video and The Rebel Room: Postgame Edition, stay tuned to lasvegassun.com/rebels.
3:26, second half, UNLV leads 66-55
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Kendall Wallace, it looks like, is the hero of the day. After his game-changing three before the last timeout, he came back to hit two more, and the Rebels are pulling away from No. 15 New Mexico, up by 11 with 3:26 to play.
On the day, Wallace has a game-high 18 points off of six 3-pointers. Five of them have come after the half.
Chace Stanback added a three and a recent 17-foot jumper, giving him 14 points and eight boards today.
This could turn out to be a huge boost for UNLV, as the Rebels come home for back-to-back home league games now against San Diego State and Utah.
7:57, second half, UNLV leads 50-46
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — New Mexico took its first lead of the second half at 46-45 with 10:30 to go, but UNLV continued to respond.
The Rebels took advantage as Darington Hobson went off of the floor, asking to come out as he was completely gassed.
After Tre'Von Wills hit two free throws, Oscar Bellfield on the next possession had the ball in the corner with seven seconds on the shot clock. He called for Brice Massamba to clear out the paint, and drove to the bucket, drawing the defenders. He then kicked to Wallace, who swished his second three of the game.
He just made another from the same spot to put UNLV up by seven with seven minutes to go out of the timeout. UNLV is in prime position for the late push.
11:55, second half, UNLV leads 45-44
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Working inside, outside and at the free throw line, Las Vegas native Darington Hobson is making up for a sleepy first half and is keying a New Mexico comeback at The Pit.
Still, UNLV is clinging to a 45-44 lead with 11:55 to play.
Hobson, who played his freshman year of high school at Western High before moving away and playing at four more high schools, is 4-of-4 at the line since the half and is taking advantage of mismatches left and right.
Meanwhile, the Rebels are in the midst of another offensive drought. Since Kendall Wallace hit a three to put them up 45-40, Hobson has scored four straight.
Now, Tre'Von Willis is checking back in, which Lon Kruger is hoping will give his team some more edge, as a spark will need to come from somewhere to keep UNLV on top.
Halftime, UNLV leads 36-30
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — UNLV withstood both a six-minute offensive drought and an 8-0 New Mexico run as The Pit became louder and louder, and now is in the halftime locker room with a 36-30 lead over the No. 15 team in the land.
Tre'Von Willis hit a 3-pointer with 1.2 seconds left in the opening frame, giving him a game-high 13 points on 5-of-8 shooting.
That ended a first half which included an interesting chess match between coaches Lon Kruger and Steve Alford.
First, with UNLV up by six, New Mexico came down with an offensive board when Kruger wanted an over-the-back call. It never came, and moments later, Roman Martinez scored a four-point play after cashing a three from the corner and getting nailed by Chace Stanback.
Kruger worked the refs, and then off of a UNLV steal, Tre'Von Willis got the make-up call on a layup in the open floor.
Kruger then put in his 3-point shooters for the final possession of the half, but with the defense ignoring Willis, he hit the deep ball from the left wing.
Overall, a solid first half from the Rebels. Here are some other key numbers from the first 20 minutes.
— Darington Hobson, New Mexico's all-around threat, has two points on 1-of-3 shooting with two rebounds and three turnovers in 17 minutes. That's a true testament to UNLV's defensive scheme.
— UNLV is holding its own on the glass, getting out-rebounded 17-13. New Mexico only has five offensive boards in the first half. For reference, UNLV allowed BYU to grab 14 offensive caroms in the first half of Wednesday's loss.
— Chace Stanback and Matt Shaw each have seven points for the Rebels, while Stanback leads the team with four rebounds.
— UNLV allowed New Mexico zero fast break points, while scoring eight on their own.
— The Rebels are not forcing things on offense. They're a consistent 15-of-27 from the floor.
7:59, first half, UNLV leads 19-14
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — UNLV continues to hold a lead over New Mexico in The Pit — never an easy thing to do — but the Lobos are beginning to wake up.
And, in turn, so is the sell-out crowd in the league's loudest arena.
Darington Hobson — New Mexico's best player and a Las Vegas native — got his first shot of the game off just inside the nine-minute mark, and it was an impressive, swooping layup with his left hand in traffic. His long arms are finally coming into play. Between he, Phillip McDonald and Roman Martinez, the Lobos' three leading scorers this season so far are 3-of-7 from the floor. Not a bad percentage, but not many clean looks coming at all.
UNLV, however, is finding it tougher to cling to the lead. New Mexico's current 6-0 lead to pull things within five at 19-14 has come the hard way, as the Rebels are still strong defensively, but the Rebels haven't scored a field goal — or a point — in more than five minutes.
11:42, first half, UNLV leads 19-8
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Things have yet to change for New Mexico, as a pair of Roman Martinez inside buckets have been answered quickly by UNLV.
First, Tre'Von Willis hit an 18-foot jumper on the right wing, then on the next trip, Kendall Wallace cashed a three in the left corner.
UNLV then pinned the Lobos down again when it looked like they were on the verge of showing up, as Willis stole a ball at mid-court and went the distance for an and-one layup. Following his old-fashioned 3-point play, he leads all scorers with seven points on 3-for-3 shooting.
So far, New Mexico has only gotten two 3-point tries, missing both. UNLV's defense is on-point so far.
15:41, first half, UNLV leads 9-2
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Based on the opening few minutes at The Pit, UNLV has a little more interest in atoning for its league opener loss than New Mexico. The Lobos have shown little defensive intensity, and in turn, the Rebels have grabbed a quick 9-2 lead.
UNM is sloppy on offense, with three turnovers so far, and on the other end, UNLV has relied on patience to produce. Chace Stanback hit one of two wide open 3-point looks, which came on back-to-back possessions.
The capper to the early lead came from Matt Shaw, who took a dish from Tre'Von Willis off of a nice shot fake to put away an easy layup inside.
UNLV looks serious and poised, while New Mexico looks asleep. In turn, the Rebels have kept a sell-out crowd mostly silent so far.
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Welcome to The Pit. It's always fun to come here, I can't lie.
I graduated in 2004 from Kansas, which had a true mecca for college hoops — Allen Fieldhouse — right on campus. Outside of that place, this is by far my favorite basketball arena I've been to in terms of general atmosphere.
Heck, it's intimidating just coming in here. First, you go down a ramp to enter the arena, then you go down the ramp, which, I'm estimating, is about 60 yards long and goes from the concourse down to the floor at about a 45-degree angle.
When this place is loud, it can truly mess with you.
A year ago, UNLV was able to negate it for the most part before falling in overtime, 73-69.
After losing to BYU on Wednesday night, is this a must-win for UNLV? No. Not even close. I believe there's no such thing as a must-win game in January.
But if UNLV shows the same kind of effort today for 40 minutes that it did for the first 34 minutes in Provo, it'd be hard for fans not to be encouraged heading into the last 14 games of Mountain West Conference play.
Remember, next week, UNLV hosts San Diego State and Utah, then plays the bottom half of the Mountain West over its next four games — Air Force, Colorado State, TCU and Wyoming, not in that order. That means that UNLV will be in prime shape at the end of the regular season to pad that resumé.
So I guess what I'm saying is don't sweat this early. It's not good for your health.
Onto todays Three Keys for UNLV ...
1) Derrick Jasper needs to be more selfish on offense, plain and simple. He even said so himself. When Jasper plays like he did on Dec. 23 at Hawaii, he can be a pain in the rear for any opponent, stretching an opposing defense out naturally. When he plays like he did in the second half in Provo, well, not so much.
2) The rebounding message was sent home strong on Wednesday, as UNLV did everything right on the defensive end except for boxing out on the glass, allowing 19 offensive boards to the Cougars. Those second-chance points helped BYU stay within range long enough to make its late-game push.
3) UNLV needs to defend Roman Martinez better than it defended BYU sharpshooter Jonathan Tavernari on Wednesday. They've got to stay on the 6-foot-6 senior like stench from a Kansas City barbecue joint stays on your clothes. He leads the MWC with 3.1 3-pointers made a game.
As for today's prediction and pick to click ...
I'm predicting New Mexico to take the 72-66 victory. It's not that UNLV isn't capable, but they've got to prove more before legitimately picking them to win at The Pit. As for the Pick to Click, I'll take Jasper. After how he's looked in practice the last couple of days, I do think he will be more selfish, and he'll be the main reason this one stays so close.