Stephen Zimmerman had 15 points, 15 boards and four blocks to lead UNLV to an 81-68 win over New Mexico last night.
He also did this:
The win was UNLV’s first of the season in the Mountain West, and it just so happened to come against a New Mexico team that had previously been undefeated in conference play.
It was also UNLV’s first game under interim head coach Todd Simon, who took over the team when Dave Rice was fired on Sunday night.
One notable difference on Tuesday was that the Rebels seemed to make a conscious effort to pound the ball to Zimmerman, the best NBA prospect on their roster and the guy best-suited to having offense run through him. He wasn’t super-efficient with his touches — Zimm was 5-for-14 from the floor — but the point is that he took 14 shots and got to the foul line seven more times. Under Rice, the only time the seven-footer took that many shots came in the win over Oregon.
That would just so happen to be the biggest win of the season for the Rebels.
It remains to be seen how the season will play out under Simon. Will the lack of a true point guard catch up to this group? Are the guards going to continue to buy into the idea that their team is at their best when the ball goes through Zimmerman and, to a lesser extent, Ben Carter inside? Was this win simply a result of UNLV being able to matchup well with and pressure a New Mexico team that is susceptible to turnovers? Were they just riding a wave of emotion after seeing their coach get the axe?
I don’t know, and I don’t think that Simon or anyone in that UNLV program really knows either.
Time will tell, but the early returns are a step in the right direction.