Rebels basketball:

Blog: Snell carries New Mexico past UNLV in Mountain West tournament final

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Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun

New Mexico guard Tony Snell poses for photos with teammates after the Lobos defeated 63-56 in the Mountain West Conference Tournament championship game Saturday, March 16, 2013 at the Thomas & Mack Center.

Updated Saturday, March 16, 2013 | 5:28 p.m.

MWC Championship: UNLV vs. New Mexico

New Mexico head coach Steve Alford finishes cutting down the net after the Lobos defeated UNLV 63-56 to win the Mountain West Conference Tournament championship game Saturday, March 16, 2013 at the Thomas & Mack Center. Launch slideshow »

New Mexico 63, UNLV 56

Game over

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

Halftime

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.

Alex Kirk vs. Khem Birch/Anthony Bennett

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

Regular season

Jan. 9 at New MexicoTale of UNLV’s league-opening loss can’t be told by one number alone

Feb. 9 at UNLVMotivated 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

Taylor Bern can be reached at 948-7844 or [email protected]. Follow Taylor on Twitter at twitter.com/taylorbern.

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Previous Discussion: 23 comments so far…

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  1. Looks like the Rebel game will start before the end of the Ohio State Michigan State game. Typical. They really need to schedule an extra half hour for the games.

  2. Knock back those Hugh Greenwood 3 pointers and you would be winning right now! Lets play all out second half!

  3. The offense is horrible today. They're dribbling around the perimeter and shooting jumpers. No inside game today. It's just like the Kruger days.

  4. Looking for the miracle ... go rebs!!!!!!!!!

  5. awesome offense tonight Rebs. keep shooting the 3 even though you are shooting only 25% from there. 7 seed here we come. this team does not deserve any better than that.

  6. way to go reinhardt. keep shooting even though you are ice cold. dave rice's strategy, just shoot your way out of your slump.

  7. @mj20 - What are you talking about? The offense has been pitiful. Bennett should have been posting up the whole game. The Rebels did a TERRIBLE job of playing inside-out basketball.

    I'm glad the Rebels learned today what happens when you don't play inside-out as opposed to the tournament.

  8. hey phillips can you not tell sarcasm when you see it? 25% from 3 isn't meant to be a compliment. that is horrible shooting. i was mocking the offense in my post. reinhardt just shoots no matter what. even though he was ice cold tonight he just kept shooting 3s and rice let him do it.

  9. Another disappointing MWC tournament for the Rebels. Too many 3-point attempts and not enough inside game. Bad coaching and no in-game adjustments today. Wait! That's been this under-achieving team's problem all year...

  10. Steve Alford is laughing his a$$ all the way to the bank as he watches a player 6'8" with 250 pounds of muscle stand on the outside as a 6'1" guard posts up trying to squeeze between centers and power fowards.

    Why do the announcers and fans know we should go inside but as a team we don't? Either the players ignore what the coaches tell them or the coaches don't have a clue.

  11. Tough, frustrating loss. Props to the Lobos; they hit more of their shots when they needed them. Good luck in the tourney Rebs. Go Rebels!

  12. The excuse again will be "We are still learning......". If it's the real world out there, you get fired for learning on the job. If you want to be the coach, you must have been prepared to take it, this is not OJT. Mike Moser needs to go, he has been a liability all season long. Even before the injury, he hasn't been playing well. Same as Anthony Marshall, he has been great but definitely no point guard. A true point guard would have put the ball inside on Anthony Bennett's hands no matter what. Katin killed the opportunities late this game but a little maturity and better shot selection will do him good. BDJ is another bright spot. Hopefully, all the incoming PG that are coming will serve us great in the years to come. Oh, and a little better coaching too won't hurt.

  13. @jwpt03 - Saying that Dave Rice should be fired despite being 50-18 in his first two seasons is just absurd. Mike Moser hasn't been great this season, but his leadership is valued on the floor. Also, he allows them to play faster and dictate tempo. It's kind of hard to fault Anthony Marshall for not feeding the ball to Anthony Bennett when he stands around the perimeter for the majority of the game. The offense Dave Rice wants to run requires a true point guard because the offense can get out of control in a hurry, which is what we've seen at times this year. One thing I will agree with you on is that the coaching was subpar this game. I think Dave Rice should have made an attempt to make the Lobos adjust to the Rebels style of play instead of the other way around.

  14. @patticcus - I think it's the former. Dave Rice talks regularly about how he wants to play inside-out basketball. I'm sure that Dave Rice told Anthony Bennett to post up more and stop settling for threes. Maybe Bennett doesn't quite understand when to shoot threes and when to impose his will inside. There's a balance, and he hasn't figured it out. Then again, he's only a freshmen.

  15. @ philips1990702: Did I say anything that he needs to be fired? Where is it? Saying what's obvious doesn't make me a lesser fan. I'm not making excuses all the time for this team like you do. if Anthony Bennet can not get the ball where he wants or needs it, who is responsible for that? I'm giving credit where it is due like what I mentioned about Katin and BDJ. You don't have to respond all the time about the fans that states their opinion. A team with this must talent can do way better, regardless of 50-18 record. If we keep on making excuses for them, how can they improve? If I want to criticize as a fan bec I love our team, I have that right too as much as you have the right to make excuses. We can respectfully disagree on some things but at the end of the day, we are still on the same team. If you don't feel that way, who cares.

  16. @jwpt03 - "If it's the real world out there, you get fired for learning on the job. If you want to be the coach, you must have been prepared to take it, this is not OJT."

    That sounds like you're saying he should be fired. I don't make excuses. I just explain why things have happened the way they do this year. That is by no means saying what has happened at times is acceptable. Anthony Bennett needs to work harder to get the ball down low. The players don't care what we have to say. Improvement will come from coaching and the individual desire of the players.

  17. The heart is there, the effort is mostly there, what is dramatically lacking is basketball IQ. It is not rocket science to get the ball inside, to drive it to the hoop, and THEN your 3-point game will open up. Rebs just not capable of consistently making right play. Surely youth is part of it, but not all of it.

    Wish Coach would use playing time as incentive to follow his game plan. You play dumb, you sit.

  18. @philips1990702: wow, you really live and die for this UNLV arguments don't you? Since he is the coach in town he'll have lots of opportunities to hit and miss, not like an ordinary employee. If you can not get that, I don't know what else will. Also, I'm opposed to the idea of getting him fired since I see a lot of potential in him. But I also expect him to be better in terms of adjustments in-game. If AB doesn't know which way to go or keep working to get the ball, who is the one that is supposed to tell him? You say you don't make excuses, but that's what have you been doing all along. Grow up dude. If you can not take criticism of OUR team, then don't mingle with anyone or go in this site and just buy your own island. Geez..... Since I'm a man who also has something else to do (family, work etc...)other than argue with a UNLV homer who lives on UNLV BB full time, this is my last response to you. Go Rebels! GO deep in the tourney!

  19. @lcr - The driving game was taken away early, and they didn't throw the ball inside. So, what you said is spot on. They haven't taken this many threes since Oregon. I forgot what their records are when they take more or less threes than their opponents, but there's a big difference.

  20. The fact that Anthony Marshall is not a "true" point guard is NOT the problem. The offense is. The three guys stand around and watch the high ball screen offense is a horrible offensive scheme. What would having a true point guard help with this set? AM comes off that ball screen looking to set people up all the time. The problem is UNLV is not a good outside shooting team. When teams like UNM force AM into the help and he has to kick it out to Moser and Hawkins who are bad perimeter shooters, or Bennett, Reinhardt or Jones who are very streaky shooters, how is that going to be effective on a consistent basis? Rebels spend all their time standing and watching. I do not care if they brought Trey Burke in to run this O. He would be doing the same thing as AM, and with the same results. Now look at UNM's offense. Lots of movement; baseline screening away from the ball; high low post up opportunites; occasional ball screen action; and cutting to the rim. That is an offense. As much as I hate Alford if he had the Rebels run that offense they would be the MWC regular season and tourney champs. Coach Rice's offense flat out stinks. If we do not hit jump shots, we do not win.

  21. Gumby is 100% right in his analysis. But to be fair, I dont think we'd run as much high ball screen if we had a true pt guard who's main objective was to manage the game. Marshall is only thinking one thing when he gets the ball: Attack. As opposed to Greenwood who is thinking: Execute. There is a vast difference between those two mind sets & it dictates what you can & cannot run effectively.

    We all know the ball should've went into the post WAAAAY more than it did, we know Bennett either got fouled or converted every time he got the ball down low. We know if we convert down there & force the double it will lead to open looks if the ball gets reversed. We knew it, the coaches knew it, but did Marshall? Did he make it happen? Did he tell Bennett to stop facing up & drifting away from the basket? Nope. He's too busy trying to attack & wanting a pick from him. Does anybody think KKruger or CTerry would let us jack up 31 3s in game of this magnitude? Leadership matters. And it starts & ends with the Pt guard.

    I'm not hating on AM at all...I love the kid....just that he is who he is and the high ball screen plays to his strengths. I dislike it as much as Gumby for EXACTLY the same reasons. I just dont know a better alternative for AM's skill set that he can run efficiently without massively increasing our TOs or stripping him of his best asset which is attacking the rim. Tough cards, man, because we DESPERATELY need another offensive set we can turn to & run effectively. Today was the poster child for that.

  22. @gumby2323 - His offense at BYU led them to a top five ranking before Brandon Davies got suspended. It's only his second year, and he's by no means a finished product. As far as this season goes, the offense hasn't been very good.

  23. Not saying I want Coach Rice fired. But the argument that Rice is doing this because of his personnel is either wrong, or he is not a very bright Coach. This is the same offense he ran with Oscar Bellfield last year and Oscar was a true point guard. So saying that he is doing this because AM is the point guard must not be correct. And if he is doing this offense because he thinks it fits our personnel how can that be a good strategy? We have streaky to poor shooters. How is it a good idea to set high ball screens and have guys standing on the perimeter waiting for drive and kicks to jack up contested jump shots? Now if what everyone says is true and guys like D Smith and Kendrick are indeed "true" point guards then Coach Rice will have a different offensive scheme and not just rely on the high ball screen exclusively next year. Correct? OK we will watch and see if this is the case. I would be willing to bet that you will see the exact same scheme next year. If I am wrong I will be the first to admit it but I am very confident that we will be having this same convo next season and nobody will be able to use the "we do not have a true point guard" excuse as to why Coach Rice has us scoring in the 60's and low 70's again.