ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – The shots were there against New Mexico on Saturday, UNLV coach Dave Rice insisted, they just weren't falling.
There were a whole bunch of shots that weren't falling for the 11th-ranked
Runnin' Rebels, especially in the second half when they went 4 for 17 from the field in losing 65-45 to the Lobos
New Mexico's Drew Gordon equaled the Runnin' Rebels second-half output with 18 points as he finished with a career-high 27 points and grabbed 20 rebounds.
"We tried to battle," Rice said. "I thought we got good looks in the second half and we just were not able to get them in."
With the game tied at 36, the Lobos went on a 16-1 run over the next 5 minutes, leaving the Runnin' Rebels trailing 52-36 with 7:23 left.
"We were having a hard time getting anything going yet we got looks," Rice said. "We made a concerted effort to throw the ball in the post. And New Mexico is very good in terms of their post defense."
The kick-out proved to be ineffective, he said.
"We were able to kick it out and get a number of open shots," Rice said. "I don't think we settled You can always look at the film and take a look at certain shots you'd like to have back but for the most part, we played inside-out. We dribble-penetrated and kicked it. We threw it in the post and we kicked it. And they were not going let us establish ourselves in terms of scoring in the post. We just weren't able to get shots in."
The result was not only UNLV's lowest scoring output of the season, but also its worst shooting game (14 for 45).
"They're terrific on the defensive end," Rice said. "They just challenge you to make shots from the perimeter and unfortunately we were not able to do that today."
Gordon is just the fifth player in the last decade to record a 20-20 against a ranked team. He is the first since DeJuan Blair of Pittsburgh did it in 2009 against Connecticut.
At one point in the second half, Gordon scored 10 straight points for New Mexico and later had eight points — including the last six — during a 16-1 run that left the Lobos (22-4, 8-2 Mountain West Conference) with a 52-37 lead. Tony Snell hit a 3-pointer, drove the baseline for a dunk and dished to Gordon for a finger-roll basket during the run.
"Things were just falling for me," Gordon said. "I don't know how or why but the basketball gods were good to me."
Rice said Gordon "proved that he's one of the best big men in the country.
He was terrific."
The win was New Mexico's seventh straight while the Runnin' Rebels have
lost three of four.
"There is no team in the last month that has guarded the way we have guarded," Alford said. "To hold a team like this, averaging 80 coming in here, (with a) very high octane offense, very hard to guard, and you hold them to four field goals in the one half, you just have to take you hats off to our group of young men. They really defended."
The New Mexico defense took the Runnin' Rebels out of their game, Rice said.
"They're terrific on the defensive end," he said. "They just challenge you to make shots from the perimeter and unfortunately we were not able to do that today."
The Lobos beat No. 13 San Diego State 77-67 on Thursday.
Anthony Marshall had 18 to points lead UNLV.
Marshall, who finished with 10 rebounds, scored seven points over the last 4 minutes of the game when the Rebels already faced a daunting deficit.
UNLV, which led 27-26 at halftime, had just four field goals in the second half while Gordon had 18 points and 11 rebounds in the same time.
Snell finished with 12 points and five assists without a turnover.