The New Mexico Lobos (23-7, 10-5), taking a page of UNLV's recipe for success this season, did just that while handing the Runnin' Rebels (22-7, 11-4) perhaps their ugliest loss of the year, 59-45, before a noisy standing room only crowd of 18,018 at The Pit on Tuesday night.
The Lobo defense, shredded with ease by the Rebels during a 79-60 victory at the Thomas & Mack Center on Feb. 2, gained a large measure of revenge this time around by holding UNLV to a season-low 45 points and 33.3 percent shooting.
Twice during the game Steve Alford's club held the Rebels without a point for a span of over 6 ½ minutes including at the start of the second half when New Mexico went on a 13-0 run to blow open what had been a tight game.
Backup forward Matt Shaw finally ended the Rebel scoring drought by sinking a pair of free throws with 13:32 remaining to cut the Lobo lead to 37-24, but UNLV would never get any closer than 10 points the rest of the way.
"They played good defense tonight," guard Wink Adams said. "They kind of played our own game against us."
Adams led the Rebels with 12 points but failed to score after intermission. He also fouled out with 5:08 remaining, only the second time in his 96-game college career that he failed to finish the game because of fouls.
"We had shots, we just weren't really knocking them down," Adams said. "We went into a shooting slump tonight. We shot bad as a team. We've just got to learn from it and get better."
"It was just a tough game, especially the second half" guard Curtis Terry, who had a game-high seven assists but scored just four points on 1-of-7 shooting, said. "They came out with a lot of fire and energy and really turned it up to another level, and kind of caught us off guard for the first three of four possessions. They just knocked down everything they put up. They had a great second half."
And no one more so than senior guard J.R. Giddens, who had 11 of his game-high 17 points after intermission. He also grabbed 15 rebounds and was serenaded with chants of "MVP! MVP!" by The Pit faithful.
As poorly as UNLV played to start the second half, the Rebels still had a chance to cut the lead to eight with a little less than 10 minutes remaining. However, senior forward Corey Bailey missed an easy layup off a lob under the basket and Giddens responded on the other end with a thunderous one-hand dunk over Rebel guard Rene Rougeau that electrified the crowd and seemed to sap any remaining energy out of the Rebels.
"We got whipped," UNLV coach Lon Kruger said. "Again, we've been whipped a few times. We don't have much margin (for error). It's not like we're going to play great every night if we don't win the battles and do the little things better. New Mexico did those things better than we did tonight."
Rebels get dose of their own medicine, 59-45
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