No. 14 UNLV establishes fast-break offense in win over New Mexico
No. 14 UNLV found success on the fast break in its 80-63 victory over New Mexico
The Lobos now have very little room for error if they eye an at-large NCAA bid
The matchup of Drew Gordon and Mike Moser was a meeting of former Bruins
|No. 14 UNLV||New Mexico|
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LAS VEGAS -- Here are three quick thoughts after UNLV's 80-63 thrashing of New Mexico Saturday night:
1. Let's run, indeed: It's unusual to be able to sum up an entire game with one stat, but that's the case in this one. Final tally for fast break points: UNLV 26, New Mexico 0. UNLV's new "Let's Run" marketing slogan manifested itself on the court as the Rebels ran off makes, misses and turnovers, and probably sprinted past the Lobos in the tunnel heading to halftime, too. Both Mike Moser and Anthony Marshall acknowledged in the postgame interviews that they thought New Mexico had wilted under the relentless pace-pushing. This is not a one-night phenomenon, either. UNLV is averaging over 71 possessions a game this season (20th in Division I, per kenpom.com), which is four possessions a game more than last season, which was former coach Lon Kruger's "fastest" team since 2005.
2. So what do we make of New Mexico? The Lobos have caved in the second half of losses to San Diego State and UNLV this week, with their statistically elite defense being shredded tonight for 1.25 points per possession. Now New Mexico is in the unenviable position of being positioned to finish third (at best) in a league that doesn't always get that many bids with, by far, the weakest at-large resume of the contenders. Due to a modest nonleague schedule (no top-50 wins), New Mexico has very little room for error now. It seems pretty reasonable to think they will need to go 2-1 in the next three meetings with the Rebels and Aztecs (including a presumed MWC tournament semifinal) to have a legitimate at-large claim.
3. So this is what UCLA could have looked like: Drew Gordon had a double-double (including seven offensive rebounds) for New Mexico. So did UNLV's Moser. Two seasons ago, this frontcourt clash was happening daily at UCLA practices as then-freshmen Moser would try to check then-sophomore Gordon. Moser said after the game that he said a simple "good game" to Gordon afterward, then allowed that he and Gordon "both knew how to get under each other's skin" when they were battling as Bruins. The constant conflicts and ultimate departure of Reeves Nelson makes this matchup in Vegas even more egregious for Bruins fans. Mix in UNLV senior Chace Stanbeck (13 points and one acknowledgment of Reggie Miller after a late 3) and it's clear the Mountain West has once again gotten one over on the Pac-12 following its 11-3 head-to-head mark this season.