UNLV Rebels vs. New Mexico Lobos
University Arena (The Pit) in Albuquerque, NM
Saturday January 7th, 2023, at 7:30 p.m. Mountain Time
The game will be broadcasted on CBS Sports Network. On the radio waves it will be carried on the Lobo Sports Radio Network, 96.3 FM/770 AM in Albuquerque.
This is the 67th meeting of the two schools. UNLV leads the series with a record of 40-26. In the last game between them the Lobos got a 76-67 victory over the Rebels.
The New Mexico Lobos will be looking to get back on the winning track when they host the UNLV Rebels on Saturday night in Albuquerque for a Mountain West Conference tilt.
New Mexico comes into the contest with a 14-1 record overall and are 2-1 in the MWC.
In their last game the Lobos fell for the first time in the season, losing to Fresno State by a final score of 71-67.
Jamal Mashburn Jr. led the way with 22 points and Morris Udeze had 18 points while Jaelen House scored 16 points. The Lobos played without KJ Jenkins off the bench, who injured his foot in the game against Wyoming.
UNM suffered because of that getting only two points off the bench in the loss.
UNLV comes to The Pit with an 11-3 record overall and are 0-2 in the MWC.
The Rebels have lost their last two contests, and three of their last four. Last game out the Rebels fell to San Diego State, 76-67.
Apropos of nothing, these two schools do have a common opponent this season in San Francisco. While UNM beat the Dons, UNLV fell to them 75-73 earlier this season.
What to watch for:
The Rebels bring to town three players that average more than 10 points per game, led by senior guard EJ Harkless.
The 6-foot-3 Harkless, an Oklahoma transfer, is averaging 16 points per game on the season. In their two true road games, Harkless has gone for 18.5 points per game. Against San Diego State, Harkless 18 points and eight assists.
Luis Rodriguez is their next leading scorer, going for 13.1 points per game. Rodriguez, who transferred from Ole Miss the past off season, had 24 points against San Diego State.
The final player averaging in double figures this season for the Rebels is Keshon Gilbert. The 6-foot-4 sophomore is averaging 12.1 points per game but has struggled recently. He had only one point against San Diego State, marking the fourth straight game that he has scored less than 10 points. However, he is capable of big numbers, having scored 25 points versus Washington State earlier in the season
Justin Webster is also one to watch. He is only averaging 7.4 points per game on the season but has scored 10 or more points in three straight games.
New Mexico really missed the presence of KJ Jenkins off the bench against Fresno State and will hopefully have him for this one. His clutch shooting and ability to calm the offense down with Mashburn and House on the floor have come in handy many times this season. He will be one x-factor tonight.
The other x-factor will be the sold-out crowd expected on Saturday night. This group of Lobos appear to really thrive off the home crowd, no more evident than their games against Iona and Colorado State. The Lobos have on 12 straight at The Pit dating back to last season. So, expect a lot of energy early and often from the Lobos feeding off the faithful in Albuquerque.
Final Thoughts and Prediction:
This one is interesting from the standpoint that both teams are coming off a loss and are hungry for a win. It seems odd to put UNLV in a must win situation only three games into the conference slate, but being 0-3 in the standings would put them already in a two and a half game hole to the Lobos.
I think UNLV will come out swinging, and depending on if Jenkins plays, this game will be a tight one. Ultimately though, I think the Lobos feed off the crowd’s energy and will hold off the Rebels for a 77-73 victory.