Men’s Hoops: Nevill outdoes Giddens to keep Utah’s season alive (3/14)

By By Cody Brunner and By Cody Brunner

By Cody Brunner

LAS VEGAS – Like a delicious salsa dance, Utah’s Luke Nevill and New Mexico’s J.R. Giddens traded moves back and forth with each other on Thursday night. Nevill would make a move, Giddens would rebut. Giddens would slash, Nevill would counter. And so it went, throughout regulation and into the final seconds of overtime. The two were virtually the only players on the court in the final seconds. New Mexico would get the ball into Giddens’ hands and the All-MWC Player of the Year would attack the basket. Utah would respond by throwing the ball inside to their star center and just sitting back to watch the show. “(Nevill) is good,” New Mexico head coach Steve Alford said. “He’s really talented. You know, same as Giddens. Those guys are hard to guard.” In the end, it was Nevill who made the final jab, throwing down a dunk to give his team the lead with 22 seconds left and then rejecting a jumper from New Mexico’s Darren Prentice with time running low. “On the last possession, I was kind of disappointed in my first-half effort, how I kind of didn’t go up strong a few plays,” Nevill said. “So I just tried to go up strong and just tried to go up strong and just tried to dunk the ball every single time.” In overtime, the rochambeau hit an ultimate extreme. With both teams desperate to avoid a possession without scoring, the two had the ball in their hands almost every second. Nevill opened the extra period with a layup, Giddens countered with one of his own. Giddens hit a pair of free throws, Nevill throws down a dunk. Giddens dunks on Nevill, Nevill dunks on Giddens. All the other players could do was marvel at the two stars. Giddens finished the game with 28 points on 9-of-16 shooting to go along with 17 rebounds. “Giddens is just such a difficult guard for us,” Utah head coach Jim Boylen said. “He just jumps over us, goes by us. Believe it or not, we were trying to guard him. We were trying to keep him under control. Man, I thought he had a monster, monster game.” Monster game or not, Nevill got the last laugh. He didn’t score as many points (he finished with 26) or grab as many rebounds (he finished with eight), but Nevill came away with the victory and kept the Utes’ season alive.

The win likely popped any remaining bubble of hope for New Mexico reaching the NCAA tournament.

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