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New Mexico vs UNLV

Snell scores 21 to lead NM past UNLV for MWC title

CBSSports.com wire reports
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LAS VEGAS -- Steve Alford still had the net around his neck when the lobbying began for his New Mexico Lobos.

No. 1 in the Mountain West Conference, for sure. But how about a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament?

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Improbable, yes, if only because this is the Mountain West after all. But Alford made it clear Saturday he wasn't going to settle for just being a No. 2.

"We've got to be in the talks," Alford said.

In a college basketball season where parity reigns, Alford wasn't speaking out of turn. Not after his No. 15 Lobos beat UNLV 63-56 to win a conference that conceivably might get five invitations to the NCAA tournament.

"I'll put our starting five up against anybody," Alford said. "I just hope our league gets the respect it should have."

New Mexico added the conference tournament title to its regular season crown with a gritty win on UNLV's home court, fueled by the late scoring of Tony Snell, who scored 13 of his 21 points in the last eight minutes. The Lobos (29-5) lost only twice in conference play, but the final win might be the one that gets them some real attention from the NCAA selection committee.

With the No. 2 strength of schedule in the country and the No. 2 RPI, it's hard to make a case against the Lobos at least being a No. 2.

"It's just a special team," Alford said. "They have just been battling their tails off all year long."

Snell scored 13 straight points for New Mexico during a second-half run, and the No. 15 Lobos pulled away late before a frenzied crowd of 18,500 on UNLV's home court that seemed equally split between the teams.

Snell carried New Mexico down the stretch, making three 3-pointers and adding a pair of field goals as the Lobos took over in the last 8 minutes of the game to win the conference title and the rubber game of the series between the teams this season.

"I think we deserve a No. 2 or higher," Snell said.

UNLV coach Dave Rice didn't argue against that, and joined Alford in pushing for the selection committee to pick Boise State and give the Mountain West five teams in the tournament.

Oh, and make sure UNLV gets a good seed, too.

"We should have good seeds and we should all have the opportunity for success in the tournament," Rice said. "This is a tournament wide open for success."

Snell was fairly quiet until beginning his streak with a 3-pointer that put New Mexico up 49-45 with 8:11 left. Conference player of the year Kendall Williams capped it off with a turnaround dunk with 11 seconds left and posed before a delighted traveling contingent of thousands of Lobo fans.

Williams, the conference player of the year, jumped on Snell's back and stayed there as the Lobos celebrated, fitting because Snell carried the team when it was needed most.

"It definitely shows how unselfish we are," Snell said. "The player of the year was just out there moving it around."

Bryce Dejean-Jones kept UNLV in the game with a pair of late 3s, including one that drew UNLV within 56-53 with 2:18 left. But Snell came back down the court for a 3-pointer of his own, and the Lobos were never headed.

Williams added 12 points. Dejean-Jones led UNLV with 19 points, while Anthony Bennett had 15.

Bennett, UNLV's sensational freshman, scored 11 points -- the entire UNLV total -- before the first television timeout. But he was inconsistent after that, disappearing for long stretches and throwing up some wild 3-pointers that kept missing the mark.

UNLV (25-9) outrebounded New Mexico 41-29, but the Rebels shot only 34 percent from the field -- including 9 of 31 3-pointers.

It was the second straight conference tournament title for the Lobos, who defeated San Diego State the day before to make the final. UNLV was playing on even shorter rest, after stopping Colorado State in a late night game Friday.

Williams didn't have one of his strongest games, but his backcourt mate Snell more than made up for it. After scoring eight points in the first half and going scoreless for about 12 minutes of the second, Snell scored the next 13 points for New Mexico before Williams finished it off with a pair of free throws and his dunk.

Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
 
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Tony Snell (left) scores 13 straight points during a second-half run to help the Lobos pull away and win the MWC. (Getty Images)
Tony Snell (left) scores 13 straight points during a second-half run to help the Lobos pull away and win the MWC. (Getty Images)
Scoreboard
New Mexico #15 (29-5) «342963
UNLV (25-9)322456
NMEX:T. Snell 21 Pts
NMEX:C. Bairstow 7 Reb
NMEX:K. Williams 7 Ast
UNLV:B. Dejean-Jones 19 Pts
UNLV:A. Bennett 11 Reb
UNLV:A. Marshall 6 Ast

Related Video

 
PLAYERS OF THE GAME
New MexicoUNLV
NMEX
Tony Snell
UNLV
Bryce Dejean-Jones
PtsRebsAstPtsRebsAst
21131971
New Mexico Lobos
T. Snell, G378-110-013221
K. Williams, G364-113-517112
A. Kirk, F-C342-91-25115
H. Greenwood, G303-40-07539
C. Bairstow, F293-93-57039
C. Adams, G-F171-20-02012
J. Fenton, G112-41-11015
C. Thomas, G60-00-02010
D. Walker, GDid Not Play
C. Perez, GDid Not Play
M. Lindsay, GDid Not Play
K. Alford, GDid Not Play
N. Banyard, FDid Not Play
D. Williams, G-FDid Not Play
Totals 23-508-1326161363
 46.0%61.5% 
UNLV Rebels
K. Reinhardt, G374-161-210111
A. Bennett, F366-122-3110115
A. Marshall, G353-62-23628
B. Dejean-Jones, G306-162-271319
M. Moser, F160-40-05120
Q. Thomas, F200-00-05030
J. Hawkins, G161-20-01103
K. Birch, F90-20-23010
D. Cook, G10-00-00000
S. Goodman, F10-10-01000
C. Lopez-Sosa, FDid Not Play
R. Smith, FDid Not Play
B. Cheaney, GDid Not Play
D. Morant, FDid Not Play
C. Rushman, GDid Not Play
Totals 20-597-113791356
 33.9%63.6% 
Mountain West
TeamConf. W-LTot. W-LRPI Rank
Colorado St.0-011-011
Wyoming0-010-2139
Boise St.0-09-247
New Mexico0-08-3149
San Diego St0-08-326
UNLV0-07-379
Air Force0-06-4199
Utah St.0-06-5167
Fresno St.0-03-8295
Nevada0-02-8314
San Jose St.0-02-9328
 
Other games
USM 79 Final
MEMP 91
NCST 71 Final
UM 81
BAMA 51 Final
FLA 61
BUT 56 Final
STL 67
WISC 68 Final
IND 56
MASS 62 Final
VCU 71
MIST 58 Final
OHST 61
KSU 54 Final
KAN 70
SYR 61 Final
LOU 78
ORE 78 Final
UCLA 69