New Mexico went into Las Vegas and handed UNLV its sixth loss in seven games by winning the last 35 seconds in a 69-69 game.
New Mexico came out of a timeout and ran the clock down before Deshawn Delaney attacked off the bounce.
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UNLV had its best two perimeter defenders on the court in Pat McCaw and Jelan Kendrick. Kendrick was defending Hugh Greenwood, who had 22 points and hit 6 of 9 threes, while McCaw started out on the Lobos best penetrator, Delaney. But UNLV switched a dribble handoff, which led to Rashad Vaughn having to guard Delaney.
Vaughn did a decent job of denying Delaney initially, but that aggression led to Vaughn being off balance and Delaney getting a lane to drive toward the baseline. That’s what created problems for UNLV.
Dwayne Morgan and Chris Wood have their backs turned to their man as they look to help Vaughn. Meanwhile Pat McCaw and Jelan Kendrick are slow to rotate into the paint.
UNLV has harped on the importance of guards rebounding. Because UNLV is among the nation’s leaders in shot blocking, their big men are typically out of position to rebound if they miss blocking a shot. That’s where McCaw and Kendrick are expected to slide into the paint and rebound.
On Delaney’s shot the ball takes two bounces off the rim. On the first bounce, Morgan and Wood are in a decent position to rebound despite not blocking out.
But as the ball takes a second bounce, Sam Logwood clears out Morgan and Wood as he comes down. Plus Kendrick, who did make an effort to block out, helps block Morgan and Wood from getting to the backside block. That’s where Jordan Goodman slides in and gives New Mexico the lead,
"There was dribble penetration, and we didn’t get Jordan Goodman blocked out on that particular play," Dave 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 other strategical aspect of this possession was that UNLV had a foul to give. Vaughn could have grabbed onto Delaney as soon as he lost a step. New Mexico would have to reset with 13 seconds left, and UNLV could have gotten back to the matchups they wanted.
But UNLV still had time to tie the game, but they had to go the length of the court. After a timeout, Kendrick ended up getting the ball to go coast to coast.
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"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.
Rashad in the right corner is where the ball should have gone. Kendrick does a tremendous job getting into the lane and collapsing the defense.
But he had a split second to make the right read – a kick out to Vaughn. When Kendrick misses the opportunity, Arthur Edwards rips the ball away, and the clock runs out.
There's been a lot of criticism about Kendrick getting the ball in the final moments. He's no where near the top option for UNLV offensively, but the senior did an excellent job of getting up the court and in the lane. He just made one poor decision in a minuscule amount of time.
New Mexico is now in third in the Mountain West standings behind San Diego State and Wyoming. With a trip to Laramie on Saturday, the Lobos could find themselves in the thick of the title race.
For UNLV, only San Jose State’s ineptitude is keeping the Rebels as a lock to actually make the conference tournament. UNLV is now 1-5 in the Mountain West with two home losses in the final 10 seconds.