UNLV vs New Mexico
Photo Credit: ESPN

FSM Essential Preview: UNLV vs New Mexico – Game 9

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UNLV (3-6) vs. New Mexico (4-7)

 

The Runnin’ Rebels looked impressive in win against the New Mexico Lobos.

 

UNLV improved to 3-6 on the season after defeating New Mexico by a score of 77-54. The Runnin’ Rebels easily defeated the Lobos in the first of two meetings between the two in Las Vegas. A win was never in doubt for UNLV as they cruised the entire game.

 

Mbacke Diong scored a career high setting the tone for the game.

UNLV vs New Mexico
Photo Credit: UNLV Athletics

As mentioned in the preview for this game, Mbacke Diong has had a very strong season for the Runnin’ Rebels but has not got a lot of recognition due to the fact that Bryce Hamilton and David Jenkins have been exceptional. After this win over New Mexico, he may start to get it. He had 20 points and 6 rebounds on 9-11 shooting. It was a career-high for Diong and he led all scorers in the game. Bryce Hamilton had another good game as it seems he always does scoring 19 points on 7-14 shooting.

For the second straight game, UNLV also got another great performance off the bench. Niquel Blake scored 18 points making 4 three-pointers shooting 50% from beyond the arc. If the Runnin’ Rebels can continue to get a spark off the bench it will result in a lot more wins throughout the rest of the season.

UNLV played very well defensively as well in this game. They held the Lobos top scorer to only 13 points and shooting 4-15. As said before, the Runnin’ Rebels dominated every aspect of the game for the entirety of the game. Makuach Maluach had 13 points for New Mexico while Valdir Manuel provided 10 points off the bench.

New Mexico finished with only 54 points. They shot a low 33 percent from the field and that’s the main reason they fell in this first game. They will look to bounce back in the second game of this quick two-game series on Monday.

 

 

UNLV will look to win their third straight game on Monday.

 

UNLV vs New Mexico
Photo Credit: KTNV

New Mexico, after this loss, now remains winless in the Mountain West Conference this season. All 7 of their losses have come to their inner conference rivals. Their 4 wins have been out of conference games.

UNLV has been exceptional offensively the past few games and it is what has been leading them to their victories so far this season. Defensively has been more of a struggle, however, the Runnin’ Rebels defense has improved over the past two games. Against a weaker team like New Mexico, their offense should be able to out weight their lack of defense.

All things considered, there are bright spots in a season where if TJ Otzelberger had any luck, it would be bad. The season was shortened due to COVID-19, so UNLV was forced to play right away and did so with 9 new players. Heading to the Maui Invitational the Runnin’ Rebels were up against it playing against teams that were more talented and been together for a lot longer. The last two things that happened were out of coach Otzelberger’s control. With COVID hitting the program forcing a 33-day shutdown and the tragic Zaon Collins situation.

Hope isn’t lost for Runnin’ Rebels fans as coach Otzelberger has UNLV playing much better on both sides of the ball. Hamilton, Jenkins, Caleb Grill, and Blake give UNLV fans reason to point to a much better result to the finish of the season.

 

 

The UNLV Runnin’ Rebels will host New Mexico again on Monday looking to continue the win streak. The game will be at 6:30 on FS1.

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-Jarret Thompson – Franchise Sports Media

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