Maybe there is something to this “Lets Run” stuff for the UNLV Rebels.
You certainly won’t get any argument from Steve Alford and the New Mexico Lobos. Not after Saturday night when the Rebels pretty much ran the Lobos out of the Thomas & Mack Center en route to a 80-63 victory before a sellout crowd of 18,577.
UNLV (18-3, 2-1 in Mountain West) finished with an amazing 26-0 edge in fast break points.
Yup, you read that right: 26 to ZERO.
“I don’t think they were ready to run like that today,” forward Mike Moser, who finished with his tenth double-double (14 points, 10 rebounds), said. “We had numbers just about every time.”
The Lobos (15-4, 1-2) seemed to hit the wall early in the second half after backup forward Cameron Bairstow was called for a flagrant foul for elbowing Brice Massamba in the head.
The Rebels were leading 47-40 at the time of the call. Kendall Wallace, subbing for the dazed Massamba, then sank both free throws. UNLV also got possession of the ball and upped its lead to double digits, 51-40, on a fallaway jumper by Chace Stanback (13 points, 3-of-6 3-pointers).
New Mexico closed to within eight points, 51-43, on three free throws from guard Kendall Williams (15 points), but UNLV then blew the game open with an impressive 23-9 run that included a pair of Moser dunks, including a highlight-reel special when he jammed home a high rebound with one hand.
It was toward the end of the run that Alford called a timeout to try and settle his team down. The blank stares and the shaking head of Williams seemed to send a message of disbelief of what had just hit them.
Alford pointed to his team’s 21 turnovers that led to a 32-14 advantage in points off turnovers for the Rebels as a big key.
“I thought they did a really good job in the second half of pressuring us,” Alford said. “Our only shot was to have a low turnover game, but turnovers led to 30-some points for them. That gets their transition going. The only chance is to try and slow down their transition game and we weren’t able to do that.”
UNLV coach Dave Rice believed conditioning also played a part in it.
“Once again it’s a situation where we really felt like, and our guys have bought into the fact, that we really wear teams out because of the style of our play, because of our conditioning, and because of our bench,” Rice said.
“Yeah, you could sense (New Mexico tiring) midway through the second half,” guard Anthony Marshall, who finished with 13 points, 9 assists, 6 rebounds and 4 steals, said.
UNLV’s bench, led by center Carlos Lopez, who tied his career-high with 14 points, outscored New Mexico’s bench, 28-9.
“The energy Carlos Lopez brought off the bench was fantastic tonight,” Rice said.
The Rebels return to action on Wednesday night at Boise State.