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Strong Defense Leads Lobos to Near Upset of Runnin' Rebels Monday

LAS VEGAS, Nev — After falling by 23 points in game one, the University of New Mexico men’s basketball team nearly pulled off the upset over UNLV on Monday night as the teams were tied with 5:43 left to play.

The Lobos (4-8, 0-8 MW) led for nearly 25 minutes compared to 9:33 for UNLV (4-6, 2-2 MW). New Mexico led by one point at halftime, marking the first time UNM has led at the break against a conference team this season. With the 53-46 win, UNLV sweeps the series for the third straight season.

After allowing four double-digit scorers in game one including 20 points from UNLV senior Cheikh Mbacke Diong, the Lobo defense stepped up Monday night. UNM limited the Runnin’ Rebels to just two double-figure scorers as UNLV was led by junior Bryce Hamilton with 14 points, 12 of which he scored in the second half.

The Lobos held Mbacke Diong to just six points on the night, all in the final 10 minutes of the game, while also limiting freshman Nick Blake to 10 points after he posted 18 Saturday.

New Mexico was also led by a pair of scorers in double figures in juniors Saquan Singleton and Valdir Manuel. Singleton posted his fourth double-digit game of the season with 11 points and has done so in two of his last three games. He also racked up a game-high and UNM career-most six assists to go along with six rebounds, four steals and a block.

Manuel scored 10 points for his second straight game scoring in double digits while adding five rebounds and two blocks.

In the game that saw seven lead changes and three ties, UNM started strong and built a 10-point lead on an 8-0 run with 12:23 on the clock in the first half.

UNM’s run put the Lobos up 13-3 and included four points from redshirt-freshman Bayron Matos.

The Lobos held the lead until UNLV tied it with 3:14 left, 19-19, and the Runnin’ Rebels took a four-point lead over the next 2:34, 27-23, with 40 seconds left.

UNM scored the next five points starting with a layup from Singleton.

With one second left on the clock, sophomore Emmanuel Kuac hit a buzzer-beating three to take the narrow one-point advantage, 28-27 at the break.

After UNLV opened the second half with a jumper to reclaim a one-point lead, Lobo senior Makuach Maluach and Manuel hit back-to-back threes within 54 seconds to get ahead again by five, which UNM would do just once more before the Runnin’ Rebels finished the game on an 11-4 run for the win.

After the teams tied it 42-42 with 5:43 left, UNLV built its largest lead of the game of five, 48-43, with just 2:43 left to play and increased it to seven just less than a minute later before finishing with the seven-point final advantage.

Both UNLV and UNM hit six threes on the night. The Runnin’ Rebels scored five in the first half before the Lobos held them to just 1-for-10 from behind the arc in the second half.

The Lobos are set to return to action on Thursday, Jan. 21 when they take on San José State in St. George, Utah. The teams will tip off at Dixie State at 1 p.m. on the Mountain West Network.

Postgame Notes

  • UNLV now leads the series 39-25
  • The Runnin’ Rebels lead in the Thomas & Mack Center, 23-9
  • UNLV has now won the last six contests between the teams dating back to Jan. 8, 2019


  • UNM used a new lineup consisting of Singleton, Maluach, Johnson, Manuel and Matos
    • The lineup started the Lobos off strong but is now 0-1 on the season.
  • The Lobos shot 50% in the first half to just 33.3 percent for UNLV
    • Over the full 40 minutes, UNLV ultimately outshot UNM 36.7-34.7 percent
  • The Lobos led 28-27 at the half marking the first time this season UNM has led at the break in conference play
    • UNM headed into the matchup a perfect 4-0 when leading at the half. The Lobos are now 4-1.
  • Both teams had just two players score in double figures, none above 14 points
  • The Lobos held UNLV senior Cheikh Mbacke Diong to just six points, all in the final 10 minutes, after he racked up 20 in game one on Saturday


  • Senior Makuach Maluach started his 68th career contest
    • He also competed in his 111th career game
    • With his nine points, he now posts 1,117 career points and ranks 28th in Lobo history.
      • Maluach is 28 points away from passing former Lobo great David Chiotti (1,145)
        • Chiotti was on Weir’s staff as UNM’s director of player development when Maluach was a freshman
  • Junior Saquan Singleton led the Lobos with 11 points marking the third time this season he has led UNM
    • Singleton has also now posted four double-digit scoring games on the season
    • Singleton also posted a game-high six assists also marking a UNM career high for the junior
  • Junior Valdir Manuel registered his second straight double-figure game with 10 points, matching his total in game one.
    • The two games against UNLV mark Manuel’s second and third games scoring in double digits on the season