(20) U-N-L-V (26-7) vs. New Mexico (25-6)
Friday, March 9, 11:30 p.m. (ET)
The Sports Network
By Gregg Xenakes, Associate College Basketball Editor
FACTS & STATS: Site: Thomas & Mack Center (18,500) -- Las Vegas, Nevada. Television: CBSSN. Home Record: UNLV 18-0, UNM 14-2. Away Record: UNLV 6-7, UNM 7-3. Neutral Record: UNLV 2-0, UNM 4-1. Conference Record: UNLV 9-5, UNM 10-4. Series Record: UNLV leads, 28-16.
GAME NOTES: Despite sporting a perfect 18-0 record in the Thomas & Mack Center this year, for tonight the 20th-ranked UNLV Runnin' Rebels aren't even considered the home team in the facility as they clash with the New Mexico Lobos in the semifinals of the Mountain West Conference Tournament.
Because the Rebels are the third seed in the 13th annual event and New Mexico is the second seed, UNLV is technically not the host for the contest even though the fans will certainly be in their corner.
Late last night, the Rebels picked up a 56-48 win over Wyoming in the quarterfinals of the tourney in order to advance, their record in the event now at 21-8 as they chase after their fourth championship.
As for the Lobos, a team which is always expected to perform well but tends to come up short in this tournament, they took care of Air Force in a 79-64 decision on Thursday. UNM, which won the trophy back in 2005, is now 8-11 in the event.
As far as the all-time series between the teams is concerned, the team's split a pair of regular-season meetings, with each winning on its home floor, which means UNLV still owns a 28-16 advantage over the Lobos.
The winner of this meeting will be back in action on Saturday in the title tilt versus the winner of the Colorado State/San Diego State matchup.
Facing off against Wyoming for the second time in just five days, the Rebels had their hands full with a Cowboys squad that believe it could keep up. However, for the second time in as many games Mike Moser flexed his muscles against the Pokes as he logged a double-double consisting of 22 points and 14 rebounds, adding three blocked shots and a couple of assists in order to offset his five turnovers. Anthony Marshall contributed eight points and 10 rebounds for the Rebels as they survived with just 40.0 percent shooting from the floor and 4-of-14 accuracy beyond the arc. Although he had a few rough outings down the stretch, Moser is still the dominant force that can take the Rebels far into the NCAA Tournament, averaging 14.2 points and 10.8 rpg, while teammates like Chace Stanback and Marshall are ready to chip in 12.8 and 11.9 ppg, respectively.
Drew Gordon made good on 9-of-11 shots at the free-throw line for the Lobos on Thursday as the entire team connected on 31-of-37 at the charity stripe, compared to just 15-of-22 for the Air Force Falcons as UNM cruised to the double-digit win at the Thomas & Mack. Although he played just 17 minutes, Demetrius Walker came up huge for the Lobos with a team-best 19 points, shooting 3-of-4 behind the three-point line, which means the rest of the team was just 5-of-18 on the perimeter in the meeting. Kendall Williams added 13 points and Tony Snell 10 for the squad as well. Like Moser for the Rebels, Gordon is a double-double waiting to happen for UNM as he averages 13.3 points and 10.8 rebounds per game. Williams (12.1 ppg) and Snell (10.8 ppg) are also integral parts to the offense for New Mexico as the team outscores the competition by close to 15.0 ppg.
Destined to be a classic, the Rebels might well have a chip on their shoulder knowing that they are not considered the home team in their own building, in front of fervent fans who can help guide them to the win.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: UNLV 67, New Mexico 64
03/09 10:45:53 ET