Albuquerque, NM – A couple of Mountain West Conference teams ranked UNLV Runnin' Rebels.
The Runnin' Rebels, off to their best start in two decades, have an unblemished record at home in Las Vegas (14-0), but in true road games it is a vastly different story for a program that is supposed to be one of the best in the nation. On Valentine's Day, UNLV dropped in on slumping TCU in Fort Worth and was stunned by the Horned Frogs, 102-97, in overtime, which means the Rebels have now bowed in two of their last three outings. The one win during that time did come against nationally-ranked San Diego State, but it came by a mere two points (65-63) at home last weekend. With the setback to TCU, UNLV is now 6-3 in conference play and that has the squad tied with SDSU for second place in the standings.
As for the Lobos, they took on the Aztecs on Wednesday night at Viejas Arena and came away with a 77-67 win to move to 7-2 in MWC play and take over first place all for themselves. The team has rattled off six straight wins and 19 in the last 21 contests overall, those two losses coming against UNLV and SDSU in the first go-around in the conference.
Already with an 80-63 win over New Mexico at home to their credit this season, the Runnin' Rebels now own a 28-15 advantage in the all-time series and have won two straight in The Pit as well.
One of the top rebounders in the country, Mike Moser was held to eight boards and scored 22 points on Tuesday night as the Rebels suffered the overtime loss at Daniel-Meyer Coliseum. Anthony Marshall and Chace Stanback both added 17 points, followed by Oscar Bellfield and Brice Massamba with 16 and 12 points, respectively, but even though the team shot an impressive 53.3 percent from the floor in the meeting, it was thoroughly beaten by on the glass by the Frogs, 46-31. Moser continues to be the one to lead the way for the Rebels with his 15.0 ppg and 11.3 rpg, but even for a team that is defeating opponents by an average of more than 13 ppg, the Rebels showed that any letdown can be costly. Stanback (13.5 ppg), Marshall (11.8 ppg) and Bellfield (10.2 ppg) are also critical pieces to the offense, the latter two combining to hand out 273 assists which is why the group ranks second in the nation with 18.5 dishes per contest.
New Mexico's perimeter defense did most of the heavy lifting in the win over San Diego State on Wednesday night, limiting the Aztecs to just three conversions on 14 attempts and that was more than enough to get the team over the hump in the crucial meeting. At the other end, Kendall Williams made good on 5-of-6 from the outside, finishing with 21 points, as the Lobos knocked down a collective 10-of-19 from three-point range. Handling the action in the paint was Drew Gordon who put up 17 points and a stellar 17 rebounds, more than half the team's efforts on the glass. Jamal Fenton tacked on 15 points in just 22 minutes off the bench. Like Moser for the Rebels, Gordon is the interior beast for UNM with his 10.7 rpg and 12.1 ppg, the latter ranking him second behind only Williams who is now responsible for 12.5 ppg. But more than just a scorer, Williams is also the one getting his teammates involved the most with his 101 assists. Defensively, New Mexico has held opponents to just 57.7 ppg by forcing those foes into more than 15 turnovers per contest.