Thursday, Feb. 11, 2010 | 2:02 a.m.
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Ryan Greene and Ray Brewer take a look at just what went wrong in No. 23 UNLV's Wednesday night 76-66 home loss to No. 15 New Mexico. The Rebels were handled on the boards, but can they bounce back in time for Saturday's tough road trip to face San Diego State.
While quieting a hostile road crowd early was a top priority for New Mexico on Wednesday night at the Thomas & Mack Center, pleasing one of their own was just as important.
Former Lobo standout Danny Granger, who now plays for the NBA's Indiana Pacers, began his All-Star break by taking a trip to Las Vegas to watch his alma mater leave the Mack with a 76-66 victory.
Granger scored 27 points and grabbed 10 rebounds in a 109-101 loss to Chicago on Tuesday night, and the Pacers don't play again until next Wednesday.
"Every time he's around, he gives good advice," said Lobos junior forward Darington Hobson, who had 16 points and 13 rebounds in the win. "It was good to see a star or a person of his caliber come out and support us in a game like this."
Granger made his first NBA All-Star game appearance last season in the middle of his break-out year, during which he averaged 25.8 points for the Pacers in his fourth NBA campaign. He was a first-round pick of Indiana's in 2005.
Hobson is now carrying the torch in Albuquerque, so to speak. As a lengthy wing player with good skills both inside and out, he has caught the attention this season of several NBA scouts and executives.
"If I can get half as good as Danny Granger, that would be a huge accomplishment for me," he said. "He's the best to ever come out of New Mexico."
For the first time in three games since losing junior guard Derrick Jasper to a sprained left knee, the Rebels looked lacking in the rebounding department.
Jasper, who was second on the team in rebounding when he went down, averaging 4.9 per game, is not expected back until towards the end of the regular season.
UNLV grabbed only 15 defensive rebounds, while New Mexico totaled 17 offensive boards. For some perspective on how slanted things were in that category, UNLV's leading rebounders were Chace Stanback and Tre'Von Willis, who had four apiece. Meanwhile, Hobson and UNM guard Phillip McDonald each had four offensive rebounds alone.
Inside the numbers
A look at some other numbers of note from Wednesday's box score ...
• Matt Shaw had one of the more efficient stat lines of the night for UNLV. After not checking in until nearly 13 minutes of the game clock had gone by, he scored seven quick points before halftime. He finished with 12 points and three rebounds in 17 minutes.
• New Mexico had three starters play at least 36 minutes.
• Dairese Gary proved yet again why he's one of the toughest opponents to face in the Mountain West. The junior point guard was just 3-of-10 from the floor, but in 36 minutes scored 15 points — including a 9-of-9 showing from the free throw line — and had six assists compared to just two turnovers.
• UNLV did put up a pretty impressive number in terms of assists. The Rebels assisted 19 of their 25 field goals and committed only six turnovers.
• While New Mexico scored 19 second-chance points, UNLV scored just two.
What's on tap?
Since a 76-66 loss at UNLV on Jan. 13, San Diego State is 5-2, with those two losses each coming by just two points. They were notable, though, in the sense that they came at home against BYU and at New Mexico.
However, the Aztecs will be a much different team this time around, as they've come together and are taking care of business where they're supposed to be.
The most recent example was an 88-57 slamming of Wyoming at home on Wednesday night.
Now 17-7 overall and 6-4 in the Mountain West, highly-touted freshman forward Kawhi Leonard is emerging for the Aztecs. He had a career-high 26 points on Wednesday and is averaging 12.4 points and 9.5 rebounds per game.
The final word
Tre'Von Willis on the Rebels taking some pride in mounting a second half comeback after trailing by as many as 18: "Of course. We always feel we can win the game, no matter what the score is."