LAS VEGAS — UNLV wants to prove that nobody in the Mountain West can run with the Rebels. After Saturday night, it may be a two-team race with New Mexico — the preseason conference favorite — falling well behind.
Mike Moser scored 14 points and grabbed 10 rebounds, notching his 10th double-double this year as No. 14 UNLV beat the Lobos 80-63.
“Once we stopped thinking about what they were doing, we played well,” said Moser, a sophomore forward who’s one of 25 players nationwide on a watch list to be considered college basketball’s best player.
“They weren’t ready for us running like that,” he said.
Moser grabbed his last rebound in the game’s final seconds, reaching the double-double in a game many expected to be closer given the conference rivalry and New Mexico’s tough loss to No. 16 San Diego State earlier this week. The Aztecs beat Air Force on Saturday night.
Carlos Lopez, sporting a fresh mohawk, led the Runnin’ Rebels’ reserves with 14 points in 14 minutes, tying a career high he set last year against Utah. He led UNLV hitting 8 of 14 free throws.
“The energy Carlos Lopez brought off the bench tonight was fantastic,” UNLV coach Dave Rice said. “(The reserves) all played well and contributed.”
New Mexico kept things tight during the first half, but never posed a threat after losing the lead.
New Mexico’s A.J. Hardeman quickly dunked after the opening tip, putting UNLV in an early hole it compounded by missing five of its first seven shots. UNLV (18-3, 2-1) trailed by five midway through the first half, but took its first lead at 25-23 with 6 minutes left on a pair of free throws, eventually finishing the half up 39-35.
The Rebels then ran it up in the second half, scoring 26 points off New Mexico’s 11 turnovers and pushing the ball across the floor every chance they got.
UNLV finished with 26 fastbreak points, pressing the lead as high as 20 points.
“You can never score too many points. We wanted to come out and be aggressive — we wanted to put pressure on them,” said Anthony Marshall, who scored 13 points and had nine assists. “We turned it up a notch in the second half.”
Kendall Williams and Tony Snell each had 15 points for New Mexico (15-4, 1-2).
The Rebels outshot the Lobos in the first half, but continuously gave New Mexico second and third looks at the basket. New Mexico had 13 offensive rebounds in the first half compared with 15 total rebounds for the Rebels in the same frame.
“We were overthinking things,” Moser said.
UNLV flipped that around during the second half, grabbing 18 total and 11 offensive rebounds.
“We had too many turnovers and they did a really good job defensively,” New Mexico coach Steve Alford said.
“We stopped playing defense, we didn’t box out, we didn’t execute our offense,” Snell said. “We knew what they would do … We need to stay more consistent defensively.”
A total of five players scored in double figures for the Rebels, including Chace Stanback with 13 and reserve Justin Hawkins, who scored 10 points in 21 minutes.
Drew Gordon had 14 points and A.J. Hardeman had 10 for New Mexico.