Rebels run past UNM in Vegas

Host UNLV (No. 14 AP/No. 20 USA Today) earned its "Runnin' Rebels" nickname Saturday, using the fast break and defensive pressure to hand the UNM men's basketball team its first road loss of the season with a 80-63 decision over the Lobos for UNM's second straight Mountain West Conference loss before 18,577 at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas, Nev.

New Mexico (15-4, 1-2 MWC) turned the ball over 21 times – 11 in the second half – and UNLV (18-3, 2-1) had 11 steals for the game and out-scored the Lobos an amazing 26-0 on fast breaks to literally run to the team's 14th win in the city of Las Vegas this season.

"They are very talented and very deep," said head coach Steve Alford. "I thought our guys played really hard. We just turned the ball over too much. There won't be a lot of teams that come in here and win and we know that. They got up into us (defensively) and we didn't have an answer."  

UNM shot out to a 4-0 lead early and held the lead for most of the first 10 minutes of the game. The Lobos took their biggest lead of the game on a Tony Snell three-pointer at the 9:32 point to take a 21-16 lead.

The two teams traded shots and UNLV tied the game three times before taking a 30-29 lead with just over four minutes left in the half. The Rebels then went on a 7-0 run and went into halftime with a 39-35 lead.

UNM and UNLV again traded shots to begin the second half before the Rebels engineered a five-point run to take a 51-41 lead just four minutes into the half. Defensive pressure as well as poor shooting from the three-point line by the Lobos contributed to the lopsided loss.

"When they increased their pressure, I thought we were standing a lot," said Alford. "Offensively, we got stagnant and that affected our defense. I think we had a poor second half against San Diego State and a poor second half tonight."

"They (UNLV) took a lot of things away from us, but I like our kids' effort," said Alford. "The big thing now is to get two (wins) next week and right the ship before we go back on the road."

Kendal Williams and Tony Snell each scored 15 points to lead UNM while Drew Gordon scored his 10th double-double of the season with 14 points and 12 rebounds for the game. UNM managed to out-rebound the Rebels 38 to 33 but were outscored 38 to 24 in the paint. UNLV also scored more off turnovers, out-scoring New Mexico 32-14 on points off turnovers.

Carlos Lopez came off the bench to lead the Rebels with 14 points along with starter Mike Moser. Anthony Marshall and Chace Stanback added 13 each for UNLV.

The Lobos host Colorado State on Wednesday night at The Pit in what might be a must-win game for both teams. The Rams (13-5, 2-1) lost 70-51 at Wyoming Saturday afternoon.

"The most important game of our season now is Wednesday night against Colorado State," said Alford. "We have to break our losing streak. If we can get it to 5-2, we're going to be fine, but it's going to take a lot of work."

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