LAS VEGAS -- UNLV fell apart on defense in the closing minutes and lost another close game, 71-69 to New Mexico. The Lobos scored on five of their last six possessions on track to the one possession victory.
"We are very, very close, but it feels like a million miles away," UNLV head coach Dave Rice said.
The Runnin’ Rebels have been close to pulling out quite a few conference wins. In their five conference defeats, UNLV has been outscored by a whopping 15 points in regulation. But those 15 points have turned into a 1-5 conference record that sees the Rebels only ahead of San Jose State and Air Force in the conference standings.
It is a million miles away because UNLV is four games out of first six games into the conference schedule.
The game was tied at 69 and New Mexico had the ball with 31 seconds on the shot clock and 35 on the game clock. The Lobos ran the clock down before having Deshawn Delaney drive to the rim. Delaney missed the contested layup, but Jordan Goodman was on the backside block to put New Mexico in front with nine seconds to play.
"There was dribble penetration, and we didn’t get Jordan Goodman blocked out on that particular play," Rice said. "That’s where we talked about it being details. Everyone’s got an assignment. It’s about our team, but it is also about individual accountability."
The reason Goodman came open to grab the board was because Chris Wood left him to try and block Delaney’s shot. As Wood has done all season, he forced a missed, but by not blocking the shot, he left Goodman the golden chance to score.
UNLV has talked about guards rebounding all season. When Wood or any big man goes for a block and misses, the guards have to be able to slide down and get the board.
It is a tough task, and it is a problem that has haunted UNLV all season. Typically, UNLV is able to contest the second shot, as the Rebels are top 10 nationally in opponent’s field goal percentage on putbacks.
But it was a perfect miss by Delaney.
But UNLV still had a chance to tie or win the game, and out of a timeout UNLV got Jelan Kendrick driving coast to coast to the basket. The result was a turnover.
"Pat was supposed to come off, and if they double teamed Pat then we were going to bust (Jelan Kendrick) back. Chris Wood was going to set an up screen, which he did. Then we had Rashad in the right corner. It was a situation where we drove it and we got the ball to the rim, and we just weren’t able to get the ball into the basket," Rice said.
New Mexico took the ball out of McCaw’s hands, who Rice trusts the most with the ball. But the reason Kendrick turned it over was because Rashad Vaughn’s defender slid down to cut off the drive.
Greenwood’s Big Day
Hugh Greenwood came into tonight shooting 28.8 percent from three. He torched UNLV by draining 6 of 9 shots from behind the arc. Greenwood dropped 22 points on 12 shots, then credited a peculiar source for New Mexico’s win.
Here is that tweet
Greenwood's mother is in remission from breast cancer.
Whether or not Greenwood played better because of an anonymous UNLV fan tweeting about him, he certainly carried New Mexico’s offense to key road win for the conference standings. The Lobos are 5-2 and in third place.
But it wasn’t all malicious between UNLV and New Mexico. The UNLV student section left a note for Greenwood prior to the game.
The letter reads:
"Mr. Greenwood, We wanted to extend our condolences and offer our support as you and your family deal with your mother’s diagnosis.
As a group, The Rebellion considered options on fundraising for your cause. Due to budget restrictions, marketing/fundraising compliance, and other time-consuming responsibilities, we were unable to organize any kind of respectable fundraising effort. Despite our inability to contribute financially, we wish your mother a successful recovery.
For years, we have watched from The Rebellion as you have played with passion, poise and sportsmanship. If your efforts consist of the same traits, we believe you will be successful in whatever goals you set for your organization’s fundraising.
We wish you, and your family, the best moving forward.
Sincerely, The Rebellion
PS: We are NOT Lobos"
- New Mexico used a plethora of defenses against UNLV. Aside from the man-to-man defense the Lobos started the game in, Craig Neal had his team use multiple zones – 2-3, 3-2 and 1-3-1 – plus a 2-2-1 full court press.
- When New Mexico was in man, UNLV seemed focused on getting Chris Wood the ball in the post as much as possible.
- Against the zones, UNLV had virtually no inside presence. No one could penetrate to the basket, and there was no post up threat against the zone.
- The Rebels only had 16 points in the paint, which was 23.2 percent of their points.
- UNLV had a successful offensive night because of the three-point line. UNLV chucked up 25 threes, and when you are drilling 36 percent from deep, you can’t shoot enough threes.
- The second half whistle was kind to the Rebels, as UNLV was in the double bonus with 11 minutes to play in the second half. Meanwhile, the Rebels were only whistled for 5 fouls.
- UNLV cashed in at the free throw line, shooting 85.7 percent.
- Dwayne Morgan got the start in place of the injured Goodluck Okonoboh. Morgan, who leads the Mountain West in fouls per 40 minutes at 6.1, picked up three fouls in 11 first half minutes.
- But Morgan managed to go the entire second half playing 13 minutes without committing a foul.
Dave Rice on if Okonoboh will be available Saturday against Utah State:
"I sure hope so. Goodluck had an x-ray, and the x-ray was negative. It’s a situation where it’s just about pain tolerance. He said it was very painful and he didn’t feel like he could go (against New Mexico)."
UNLV has another home game on Saturday against Utah State. The Rebels will look to snap their three-game losing streak at 5:00 p.m. on CBS Sports Network.