Live blog: New Mexico edges UNLV at buzzer

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Steve Marcus

UNLV Rebels guard Jovan Mooring (30) drives to the basket during a game against the Fresno State Bulldogs at the Thomas & Mack Center Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2018.

Published Sun, Feb 25, 2018 (2 a.m.)

Updated Sun, Feb 25, 2018 (1:31 p.m.)

New Mexico held on for a 91-90 win after UNLV failed to convert on several opportunities at the buzzer.

Kris Clyburn missed an open 3 from the left wing with less than 10 seconds to play, and Jovan Mooring and Shakur Juiston both had chances to tip the ball in, but both attempts missed.

UNLV is now 19-10 on the season and 8-8 in Mountain West play.

UNLV making late run at New Mexico

With 3:48 to play, UNLV has taken an 82-81 lead at New Mexico.

Jovan Mooring hit a crowd-silencing 3-pointer to trim New Mexico's lead to two, and after a defensive stop, Brandon McCoy made a driving layup while drawing a foul from New Mexico defender Joe Furstinger.

McCoy now has 15 points and seven rebounds in 20 minutes.

New Mexico leads UNLV late, 77-70

New Mexico continues to make 3-pointers, but UNLV is using the free throw line to hang around, and with 6:44 to play, UNM leads 77-70.

Troy Simons just converted a basket while drawing a third foul on Brandon McCoy, so he'll be shooting the and-1 free throw after the media timeout.

New Mexico is 9-of-17 from the 3-point line and 6-of-8 in the second half, while UNLV is just 2-of-4 from beyond the arc. The Rebels have earned 30 free-throw attempts (20-of-30), and they'll be shooting the double bonus the rest of the way.

Hot-shooting New Mexico extends lead over UNLV

New Mexico is starting to hit from 3-point range, and an 8-0 run has given the Lobos a 57-46 lead with 13:54 to play.

Makuach Maluach hit a 3-pointer from the left wing to start the run, Antino Jackson made a driving layup, and Anthony Mathis buried a long 3 to force Marvin Menzies to call timeout. New Mexico is now 6-of-13 from beyond the arc, while the 3-point averse Rebels are 1-of-2.

Jovan Mooring picked up his fourth foul with 15:53 remaining and checked out immediately after the whistle, so it looks like the Rebels will have to lean on freshman guard Amauri Hardy for a long stretch. So far, Hardy has four points on 2-of-7 shooting.

New Mexico leads UNLV at half, 42-41

UNLV got a layup on a creative play just before the halftime buzzer, and at the break New Mexico leads, 42-41.

After a pair of New Mexico free throws with 3.0 seconds on the clock, head coach Marvin Menzies called timeout to set up the final play. Tervell Beck threw a long inbounds pass to Shakur Juiston in the front court, and Juiston quickly shoveled the ball to Amauri Hardy, who was trailing the play on the right wing. Hardy streaked in for a layup as the horn sounded to give the Rebels a little momentum heading into the locker room.

UNLV surged late in the half to take a 35-30 lead, but foul trouble forced the Rebels to play without Jordan Johnson, Jovan Mooring or Brandon McCoy for a stretch just before halftime. That's when New Mexico went on an 8-0 run to reclaim the lead.

Johnson finished the half with 10 points and four assists, while Juiston posted 12 points and 10 rebounds.

New Mexico shot just 11-of-25 from the field but did a lot of its damage from the free-throw line, making 17-of-19 from the stripe. UNLV will have to cut down on its fouling in the second half and force UNM to score from the field.

UNLV leads New Mexico, 35-30

Jordan Johnson has put the Rebels on his back in the first half, and with 3:48 to play before the break, he's got UNLV on top, 33-30.

Johnson has a team-high 10 points on 4-of-6 shooting, including some difficult makes, and he has also handed out a game-high four assists.

Cheickna Dembele has also given UNLV some good minutes. After Brandon McCoy picked up his second personal foul, Dembele checked in and the Rebels have outscored New Mexico by nine points in his six minutes.

New Mexico forward Joe Furstinger has been a matchup problem for the Rebels on the interior. Furstinger has a team-high seven points on 1-of-2 shooting, and he's forced his way to the free-throw line for seven attempts (5-of-7).

UNLV trails at New Mexico early

UNLV started slow, but a 9-0 run got the Rebels back into the game and with 11:33 left in the first half, New Mexico has a 17-14 lead.

The Rebels have made just 6-of-15 shots from the field, but they held UNM scoreless for almost five minutes to erase an early 8-point deficit.

Brandon McCoy just picked up his second foul, so he'll likely head to the bench after logging just five minutes so far. McCoy has three points and two rebounds.

Three keys for UNLV basketball at New Mexico

UNLV has covered the entire spectrum over the first 15 games of the Mountain West season. The Rebels have looked like serious contenders for weeks at a time, and alternately, they've looked like bottom dwellers while getting blown out in their last two games.

So which team is closer to the truth? Sunday's contest should give an indication, as the Rebels travel to play at third-place New Mexico. The Lobos are surging at the right time, and stylistically, they match up well with UNLV. The Rebels (19-9, 8-7 MWC) will have to play close to their best in order to challenge for a road win. Three keys to watch:

Pace

A game against New Mexico may be just what UNLV needs right now. After the Fresno State game, Marvin Menzies lamented that his team hadn't pushed the ball fast enough or created enough early offense in consecutive losses to San Diego State and Fresno State. That shouldn't be an issue against UNM, which plays at a naturally fast pace and wants to run almost as much as the Rebels do.

For the season, New Mexico is 49th in KenPom.com's adjusted tempo rankings and 67th in possessions per game (UNLV is 19th and 17th, respectively). So if the Rebels are going to get their fast-break mojo back for the stretch drive, this could be the contest to jump-start the engine.

Look for Menzies to give guards Jordan Johnson, Jovan Mooring and Amauri Hardy the mandatory green light to rush the ball upcourt in search of easy transition opportunities. If they can cash in, the Rebels could get their groove back.

Rotations

When UNLV was playing its best basketball of the season — which was just a few weeks ago, though it seems a more distant memory after two straight blowout losses — it was the three-guard lineup of Johnson, Hardy and Mooring doing the heavy lifting. When those three played with starting bigs Shakur Juiston and Brandon McCoy the Rebels were unstoppable, outscoring opponents 103-54 over a six game span that saw UNLV go 5-1.

For reasons unknown, that lineup has had its playing time scaled back dramatically over the last three games, logging just five minutes as a group. As mentioned above, Menzies wants to rev his offensive engine again, and playing those three guards together is the best way to do it.

3-point shooting

New Mexico takes and makes more 3-pointers than any team in the Mountain West, and that is pretty much the entire reason for the Lobos' surprising success this season (14-14 overall, 9-6 MWC). UNLV, on the other hand, ranks dead last in the conference in made 3-pointers, which creates a difficult math problem for the Rebels.

Against Fresno State, the Rebels made just 2-of-16 from long distance. New Mexico is going to make a dozen of more 3-pointers on Sunday, so it's going to be hard for UNLV to keep pace strictly with 2-pointers.

Can Mooring step up with the kind of hot shooting performance like the display he put on in Reno to carry UNLV to a win over UNR on Feb. 7? In that game, Mooring connected on six 3-pointers and scored 31 points; he's the only Rebel capable of producing volume from 3-point range, so this game may hinge on whether or not he catches fire.

Mike Grimala can be reached at 702-948-7844 or [email protected]. Follow Mike on Twitter at twitter.com/mikegrimala.

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