Saturday night was set up to be a celebration of New Mexico Lobos men’s basketball, with a sellout crowd wearing all white at The Pit in Albuquerque and unranked Nevada-Las Vegas in town to face the 21st-ranked Lobos.
But UNLV spoiled the party, coming back from a 12-point deficit in the first half to stun the Lobos 84-77 with 55.6 percent shooting in the second half.
EJ Harkless scored 21 of his 25 points in the second half before fouling out, including a clutch jumper with 40 seconds to play for an 80-74 Rebels lead.
New Mexico made it a one-possession game moments later and had a chance to cut the lead to one, but Jamal Mashburn Jr. missed two of free throws after being fouled on a 3-point attempt with 22 seconds left.
Keshon Gilbert added 14 points, five assists and four steals for UNLV (12-3, 1-2 Mountain West) which won its first conference game.
Morris Udeze had 22 points and 13 rebounds and Mashburn added 19 points for the Lobos (14-2, 2-2).
UNLV never led in the first half, but Harkless drilled a 3-pointer from the left side of the arc that tied the game at 43 with 18:24 to play in the game. The Rebels took their first lead seconds later on a dunk by Luis Rodriguez, and they held on the rest of the way.
Key plays in the second half included another Harkless trey with 11:20 to go, and a technical foul after UNLV’s Victor Iwuakor dunked for a 62-55 lead at the 9:41 mark. Harkless made the technical free throw for the Rebels’ largest lead of the night.
New Mexico fought back, pulling within 69-67 on a 3-pointer by Javonte Johnson and 70-69 after two Udeze free throws at the 3:50 mark. But the
The Lobos threatened to blow out the Rebels in the first half, in which they made 53.1 percent of their shots (17 of 32). New Mexico went ahead 26-14 after a 3-pointer from Jaelen House followed by a Udeze jumper with 8:57 to play.
UNLV answered with a 16-6 run to cut New Mexico’s leads to 32-30. Gilbert scored eight straight points for the Rebels. Later, Jordan McCabe and Rodriguez hit treys to cut the New Mexico lead to 39-38 with 46 seconds to go.
The Lobos went into halftime with a little momentum after a Josiah Allick steal, his pass to Johnson and Johnson’s dish to Udeze for a dunk just before the buzzer. New Mexico led 43-38.
–Field Level Media