New Mexico's Xavier Adams (21) shoots while guarded by UNLV's Jordan Cornish (3) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2016, in Albuquerque, N.M. (AP Photo/Juan Labreche)
Juan Labreche
February 03, 2016

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) The inside battle between New Mexico's Tim Williams and UNLV's Stephen Zimmerman Jr. was pretty even until the final six minutes of the game.

Then veteran experience took over as Williams, a junior transfer from Samford, scored 12 straight points for the Lobos (14-8, 7-2 Mountain West) to guide them to an 87-83 win on Tuesday night.

''I was just trying to do things to help my team win,'' Williams said. ''Tonight they called on me and luckily I made some shots.''

Williams, who finished with 29 points, took some advice from coach Craig Neal to get after it.

''Toward the end of the second half, coach Neal was telling me to face up,'' Williams said. ''I got some elbow touches where I could attack the basket. I think attacked more. I think I was a little more aggressive tonight.''

Meanwhile, Zimmerman went scoreless from the first minute of the second half to final minute but still finished with a career-best 21.

''I thought we had a really good effort of shrinking the wood and by that I mean really converging in,'' Neal said. ''I thought we did nice team defense. You're not going to take (Zimmerman) out of it because he's that good, but we just tried to limit his touches deeper.''

The Lobos' focus on Zimmerman opened up the outside and Jordan Cornish took advantage for the Rebels (13-10, 4-6), hitting five 3-pointers in the second half.

''They were double-teaming him, which opened up our shooters and our shooters knocked down shots,'' said UNLV interim coach Todd Simon. ''They made an adjustment and our adjustment was our guys started knocking down open shots.''

Cornish came off the bench to score 17, including three 3-pointers in the last 5:12. Each of the shots either tied the game or put the Rebels ahead.

The second half was a tight throughout, with neither team holding a lead of more than three points until the closing seconds.

The lead changed hands 16 times and the game was tied 14 times, the last time at 76-all with 2:45 to play.

The Rebels still had a chance to tie it, but New Mexico's Sam Logwood stuffed Jerome Seagears' jumper and the Lobos picked up the loose ball.

UNLV got into foul trouble midway through the second half, with Dwayne Morgan fouling out in just seven scoreless minutes of play. Five other players, including three starters and two reserves, each had three fouls at that point, with Seagears also eventually fouling out. The Rebels did not score many points from the foul line, tough, only getting two attempts in the second half.

Both teams committed 15 turnovers, but the Rebels were able to take better advantage, scoring 24 fast-break points.

The Rebels also knocked down 12 3-pointers compared with three for New Mexico, with Cornish hitting 5 of 6 from behind the arc. Despite Zimmerman's efforts, the Lobos had the scoring edge inside, 50-30.

Sill, with the game undecided in the closing minutes, Neal had some anxious moments.

''They get my blood pressure up,'' he said. ''The play loose and they have no fear. I think they're growing up in that I think they can finish now. I don't know if they could do that earlier.''



Zimmerman came into the game averaging 10.7 points before his career night. His previous high was 18 on Jan. 27 against Boise State.

Over the last two games, Brown, who is battling hamstring issues, has shot 24 for 26 from the free-throw line. It's the second time this season he has had at least 12 foul shots without a miss this season, becoming the second Lobos player to accomplish the feat.


New Mexico plays at San Diego State on Saturday.

UNLV is at Fresno State on Saturday.

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