March 11, 2004
2004 Men's Basketball Championships
The Runnin' Rebels and Lobos met for the second time in MWC tournament play tonight and third time overall in postseason action. UNLV has won each of those contests.
UNLV has a MWC-best all-time record of 8-2 in the MWC Tournament. The Rebels have made it to the championship game of the MWC Tournament all three years they were eligible to play, and won their only title in the inaugural contest in 2000 over BYU, 79-56.
The Rebels improve to 40-9 all-time in conference tournament action, with an 18-1 opening round record.
New Mexico is 1-4 in MWC quarterfinal games.
Tonight's game started with eight combined missed shots (four apiece) before Danny Granger made New Mexico's first bucket at the 16:22 mark, followed by UNLV's first make by James Peters at 14:58.
UNLV took its first lead of the ball game at the 5:29 mark of the second half (48-47).
With the score 7-4 in favor of New Mexico at the 12:58 mark, the Lobos went on a 15-3 run over the next 6:17 to extend their lead to 22-7. UNLV answered with its own 17-8 run to close out the half and pull within (24-30).
In the first two meetings between UNLV and New Mexico this season, the Runnin' Rebels averaged 83.5 points and shot 54.6 percent from the floor. Tonight, UNLV scored 55 points and shot 41.7 percent from the field in the win.
UNLV trailed at the half (24-30) in an MWC Tournament game for just the third time in 10 games played. The Runnin' Rebels lost both of those previous contests. UNLV also won for just the second time this season when behind at the break (2-9).
New Mexico has led three times at the half in MWC Tournament games and is 1-2 in those contests.
UNLV's Odartey Blankson averaged 24 points and nine rebounds in the first two games vs. New Mexico this season, including a career-high 28 points March 1, 2004. Tonight, he scored seven points and pulled down five boards. This was also just the third time this season Blankson was held to single-digits in scoring.
Romel Beck paced the Runnin' Rebels with 23 points tonight. It marked the 24th time this season he has reached double-figures and seventh time he has scored 20 or more points.
Ritchie McKay is now 0-9 all-time against UNLV.
#4 UNLV will face #8 Colorado State in the second semifinal game Friday night at 10 p.m. It will be a rematch of last years MWC Championship game.
Pepsi Center, Denver, Colo.
Quarterfinal Game 4 - #4 UNLV 55, #5 New Mexico 53