Friday, March 9, 2012

Tough loss: UNLV falls to New Mexico 67-72

Coach Rice was correct when he said it would be a close game. Unfortunately he could not predict or deliver a Rebel win in his prophecy. Due to the Rebels having limited production from anyone other than Anthony Marshall and Oscar Bellfield, the Rebels succumbed to New Mexico’s offensive attack and are now awaiting an at large bid on Selection Sunday.

The Rebels started this game hotter than they did against Wyoming, pulling out to a 17-4 lead quickly. How it happened? Stanback hit his first three, Bellfield had a nice shot, as well as a 3 from Marshall and Bellfield, and Moser with a rare 2 point jumper. The margin built by the Runnin’ Rebels was short lived, as the Lobos then went on a 10-0 run of their own, making the score 17-14.

The Rebels and Lobos traded baskets for awhile, and the Lobos pulled ahead 31-29 with about a minute remaining in the half. UNLV would tie the game and retake the lead on a Kendall Wallace 3 pointer right before the half. Halftime score 34-31 UNLV on top.

Observations: While UNLV’s offense was a finely tuned machine and many points came off turnovers, once that gravy train ended the holes in our defense became apparent. Especially disturbing was the freedom we gave Drew Gordon to work in the post, once his game gets going he doesn’t stop. Plenty of other Lobos were feeling their offensive game, so a tough second half was in the cards. Also, much like the Wyoming game, an early 3 pointer was seen from Chace Stanback, but then little else. Chase spent much of the game watching from the bench – an odd move considering he’s the teams second leading scorer and most potent 3 point threat. Besides the lack of Defense, the Rebels did not try nearly has hard to get defensive and offensive rebounds, leading to many second chance points for the Lobos and not many second chances for the Rebels. Tying in with the interior defense issues and lack of rebounding, the UNLV big men were noticeably ineffective against the UNM defense, making our team mostly a jump shooter and Anthony Marshall driving show.

Much like he opened the first half, Stanback popped in a three to begin things. Much like the first half, little was seen from Stanback after that. Mozilla was doing some good things, he had a sweet baseline one handed jam to answer a Drew Gordon throw down. One thing to praise the Rebels on, was their free throwing was better than it has been normally, although not perfect it was as good as could be expected.

The game was not in the cards for the Rebels, because New Mexico shot lights out in the second half. As the more active team with what turned out to be several matchup problems for the Rebels, the Lobos shot 54% from the field, 50% from three, and were perfect from the free throw line. The Rebels shot 33% from the field, 16 % from three, and were 72% from the free throw line.

Down three points, the Rebels had the ball and brought it up with about 30 seconds to go. For all of my limited basketball knowledge, the smart thing I assume would be call a time out, and draw up a play to tie the game. Coach Rice had other ideas, and let his players play. Mistake. I believe it was Anthony Marshall or Justin Hawkins who got caught up on a mid-lane drive, lost the ball, and New Mexico recovered it. This essentially allowed the lead to move out of reach at 5 points, given New Mexico’s foul shooting this would not change.

Reign man: Anthony Marshall. If I had just one more person to mention, we've have won the game. 

Now the Rebels await Selection Sunday, and a likely 6 or 7 seeding in the NCAA tournament. Here’s all of the data from the game. Check back for more later, as we run through all of the bracket predictions. 

NCAA Basketball

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