New Mexico-UNLV: Lobos Gets Its Revenge In Las Vegas, 76-66

Richard MarshSenior Analyst IFebruary 11, 2010

09 Mar 2002:  Head coach Steve Allford of Iowa signals his players during the game against Indiana at the Big Ten Basketball Tournament at Conseco Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, Indiana. Iowa defeated Indiana 62-60. DIGITAL IMAGE Mandatory Credit: Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

I really have to admire those reporters who can be completely unbiased in their reporting. I know 99.9 percent of the media has their favorite team in sports and only the best seem to be able to pull off reporting on their team and remain objective, report the facts, point out the mistakes, and criticize the team, its players, and their coaches.

When it comes to the UNLV Runnin' Rebels, I am a hopeless fan. I revel in their victories while suffering in their defeats. When they win, I have them in the Final Four and when they lose, I make all sorts of justifications why they didn't win.

Take last night's Rebel loss to the New Mexico Lobos, a team that is definitely in contention for a high seed in the NCAA Tournament. After starting the conference season with two quick losses, including one to these same Runnin' Rebels at "The Pit," where only one Mountain Conference Team has been victorious in the last 25 games.

New Mexico now sits alone at the top of the Mountain West Conference standings with an 8-2 record along with being 21-3 overall. They have now beat five ranked teams this year.

Revenge can be a powerful motivator for sure, and the Lobo's virtually stunned the 18,000 fans in the sold out Thomas and Mack Arena. They made their first five three-point attempts and moved out to a 40-28 halftime lead.

They built the lead to 18 points with just over 10 minutes left in the game. At that point in the game I honestly said to myself, "Geez, I really don't want to write about this tomorrow morning." I was still coming off the best college basketball game I have ever attended when UNLV bounced BYU off its 12th ranked perch.

Then the Rebels caught fire as Oscar Bellfield, Tre'Von Willis, Kendall Wallace, and Matt Shaw went on a 20-4 run to make a game out if it for the final three minutes. The crowd, very quiet most of the way, nearly raised the roof.

Enormous credit to Steve Allford and his Lobos. They withheld the firestorm and regained their composure in those last three minutes and pulled away for the final 10 point victory.

They won the game from behind the arc, the foul line, and their overwhelming advantage on the boards. The Rebels put three players in double figures with Oscar Bellfield leading the way with 15 points. Tre'Von Willis kicked in 13 while Matt Shaw added 12.

I will not back down off this one loss for the Rebels, who are now 19-5 overall and 7-3 in conference play. Unfortunately, their next game is no easier, as they visit San Diego State on Saturday night. This game becomes a must win for the Rebels or they will see their chances to make it to the big dance be based on their performance in the Mountain West Conference tournament.

Let's hope the Rebels can continue their winning ways on the road, as they are 7-1 this year.