Tony Snell scored 21 points on 8 of 11 shooting
72 percent, plus 5 of 7 on 3-pointers – 71 percent) to lead all
performance, which included scoring 13 of the Lobos final 17
points – capped a
great three days for Snell as
he earned the tournament MVP award.
As great a performance as Snell had offensively
he and his
teammates may have surpassed it defensively – limiting the Rebels
to a 9 of 29
(31%) shooting performance in the second half and 20 of 59 (34%)
for the game.
UNLV freshman phenom started the game scoring the Rebels first 11
was held to just four points the rest of the game for 15 points
and 11 rebounds
“I've said it, we'll put our starting five up
anybody,” said head coach Steve Alford. “They’re talented. They
understand the ebb
and flow of a game, the importance of (defensive) stops, coming
timeouts, getting to the free-throw line.
Whatever it may be, they have a really good understanding
Cameron Bairstow added nine points and seven
against UNLV and joined Snell on the All-Tournament team.
Australian Hugh Greenwood also added nine points on 3 of 4
3 of 3 from 3-point range. The Lobos got scoring from seven of
who entered the game and finished with 16 assists total – seven
coming from MWC
Player of the Year Kendall Williams, who added 12 points as well.
“(Today) definitely shows how unselfish we are
Player of the Year, just tried to move the ball around,” said
definitely unselfish for each other.
We like to see each other get going and make buckets.”
The Rebels came into the game as 2 ½
point favorites and
were the odds on favorite to win the tournament, something that
did not escape
the eyes and ears of New Mexico players, who said they used it as
“We knew we've always been the underdog -
that's what I love
about this team,” said Snell. “We’re underdogs, but we still like
to go out and
prove people wrong, that we're good enough to win championships.”
“As Tony said, we've always played with that
chip on our
shoulder,” said Bairstow. “We don't get a lot of national
fine with us. We
just try to go out every game and
try to prove ourselves.”
The Lobos and Rebels dueled evenly early before
hit a pair of back-to-back 3-pointers to give UNM a 21-15 cushion
left in the first half.
New Mexico held the lead in that range for much
of the rest
of the half, relying on their defense and getting the largely
partisan UNM crowd
howling to ear crushing levels before UNLV mounted a rally.
Snell sank a trey with 1:43 left that seemed to
Mexico a healthy cushion. But after a missed 3-pointer by Jamal Fenton, UNLV
set up for a final shot, which freshman Katin Reinhardt sank at
the buzzer rto
trim the Lobo lead to 34-32 at halftime.
The Rebels tied the game on the first shot of
half then the two
runs to end up tied 44-44 with 12:49 left in the game.
The two teams jostled a bit more before Snell
set off the Lobo faithful with a seven point outburst – to give
UNM a 54-47
UNLV trimmed the lead to 55-53 on a pair of
treys by Bryce DeJean-Jones at the two minute mark. But Snel
responded with his
final 3-pointer, a high arcing shot that set off a massive cheer
with 1:05 left
in the game to give the Lobos a 59-53 lead.
Williams sank a pair of free throws and then
sequence with a steal and thunderous dunk before DeJean-Jones sank
inconsequential trey to end the scoring.
New Mexico finished the game shooting 46
percent (23 of 50)
and 47 percent (10 of 21) in the crucial second half. The Lobos
also landed 9
of 19 3-pointers in the game (47 perecnt).
DeJean-Jones paced UNLV with 19 points on 6 of
and fellow guard Katin Reinhardt added 11 points on 4 of 16
and Greenwood of UNM both finished with seven rebounds each but
finished with a 41-29 advantage on the boards.
New Mexico, which improved to 29-5 on the season. committed just seven turnovers in the game – the
second lowest total ever in a MWC title game. UNLV fell to 25-9 and awaits an NCAA at-large bid Sunday.