Skip to content

No. 25 New Mexico holds off No. 24 UNLV in tough Mountain West opener

Jan 10, 2013, 12:31 AM EDT

New Mexico UNLV AP

The Mountain West is going to be the most exciting conference west of the Mississippi this season. Not convinced? Enter “Exhibit A,” UNLV-New Mexico Wednesday night.

Behind 23 points and eight rebounds from big man Alex Kirk, No. 25 New Mexico fought off a late push from No. 24 UNLV to win, 65-60, at The Pit in Albuquerque, N.M.

New Mexico had trouble sealing the game with free throws down the stretch, but Tony Snell sunk two with eight seconds remaining finally put the game out of reach.

Poor shooting and bad shot selection played UNLV early in the first half, allowing New Mexico to jump out to a 7-2 lead three minutes in, but more ball movement made it nearly even through a majority of the first half.

But then the New Mexico defense cooled the Rebel attack and went on a 7-1 run to extend the lead to seven points.

Part of those struggles were because star freshman Anthony Bennett was not involved in the first half, scoring just four points. From the first possession of the second half, it was clear that UNLV wanted Bennett involved.

His baseline jumper gave him the first two points of his eight in the second half, though he picked up his fourth foul with just over 14 minutes to go. His absence allowed New Mexico back into the game.

The Rebels are also working to find their offensive identity when point guard Anthony Marshall is on the bench. Without a well-defined ball-handler for UNLV, New Mexico pressured defensively and the Rebels again began to take bad shots.

Against three athletic and highly skilled UNLV frontcourt players in Anthony Bennett, Mike Moser, and Khem Birch, New Mexico’s Alex Kirk was supposed to be challenged.

Instead, Kirk outplayed all of them, scoring 16 of his 23 points in the first half.

Kirk’s play set the tone and, at times, visibly frustrated the UNLV front line. Bennett picking up his fourth foul changed the way he was able to play, and Birch eventually fouled out Wednesday.

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at JohnnyJungle.com, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_

Latest Posts
  1. Steve Lavin and St. John’s ‘mutually agree’ to part ways

    Mar 27, 2015, 2:39 PM EDT

    Steve Lavin's three seniors have the NCAA tournament in their sights (AP Photo) AP

    Lavin had been with the St. John’s program for five years.

  2. Steve Prohm agrees to an extension with Murray State

    Mar 27, 2015, 1:31 PM EDT

    Getty Images Getty Images

    Prohm was one of the hottest names on the coaching carousel.

  3. Indiana freshman Max Hoetzel to transfer out of the program

    Mar 27, 2015, 12:43 PM EDT

    Getty Images Getty Images

    Two transfers in one week is not a good thing.

  4. The making of the Final Four court (VIDEO)

    Mar 27, 2015, 11:20 AM EDT

    Print

    It’s pretty cool to see this process in action.

  5. Wichita State assistant Steve Forbes to take over at East Tennessee State

    Mar 27, 2015, 10:31 AM EDT

    STEVEFORBES150X2201

    Forbes spent two years as an assistant at Wichita State.

  6. Tennessee fires head coach Donnie Tyndall after one season

    Mar 27, 2015, 9:08 AM EDT

    cd0ymzcznguwzdbhnduynddiytjhm2yyzthlmtjjotqwyyznpte3owi1njbhnjg0mtc2yjbkzdgzmdzhnzm2mtbjytc1 AP

    Tennessee has parted ways with head coach Donnie Tyndall after only one season.

  7. Tourney Snacks: Kentucky, Notre Dame win in Midwest; Arizona, Wisconsin advance to set up Elite Eight rematch

    Mar 27, 2015, 1:45 AM EDT

    (AP) AP

    The Elite Eight will feature a rematch in the West Regional between Arizona and Wisconsin and Kentucky battling Notre Dame in the Midwest Regional.

  8. Updated tournament records: Kentucky moves SEC above .500

    Mar 27, 2015, 1:00 AM EDT

    AP Photo AP Photo

    Kentucky’s win also means that the Big 12 is down to one team: Oklahoma.

  9. No. 2 Arizona pulls away from No. 6 Xavier, setting up West regional final rematch

    Mar 27, 2015, 12:59 AM EDT

    (AP) AP

    Arizona played slightly better on both ends of the floor in the second half, and they’ll take on No. 1 Wisconsin as a result.

  10. Kentucky responds to Daxter Miles Jr.’s pregame comments

    Mar 27, 2015, 12:48 AM EDT

    Getty Images Getty Images

    If you are going to talk, you better be able to back it up

  11. Tip times, announcer pairing and channel guide for 2015 Elite 8

    Mar 27, 2015, 12:19 AM EDT

    AP Photo AP Photo

    The schedule for Saturday has been released.

  12. #POSTERIZED: Jalen Reynolds dunks on Kaleb Tarczewski (VIDEO)

    Mar 27, 2015, 12:11 AM EDT

    Jalen Reynolds Jalen Reynolds

    Jalen Reynolds dunks everything he gets his hands on, it seems.

  13. No. 1 Kentucky dominates No. 5 West Virginia to advance to Elite 8

    Mar 27, 2015, 12:06 AM EDT

    (AP) AP

    No. 1 Kentucky looked completely dominant in an easy win over No. 5 West Virginia.

  14. Sam Dekker, Frank Kaminsky lead No. 1 Wisconsin to second consecutive Elite Eight

    Mar 26, 2015, 9:59 PM EDT

    (AP) AP

    After Dekker scored 15 points in the first half, Kaminksy scored 15 in the second half for the Badgers.

  15. USC sophomore guard Kahlil Dukes to transfer

    Mar 26, 2015, 6:20 PM EDT

    Getty Images Getty Images

    Dukes averaged 2.1 points in 7.2 minutes of action per game.

  16. Josh Jackson, No. 1 player in Class of 2016, cuts his list to nine schools

    Mar 26, 2015, 5:35 PM EDT

    2014 Under Armour Association Finals

    Josh Jackson, the No. 1 player in the Class of 2016, is down to nine schools.