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UNLV digs out of first-half hole to dump No. 21 New Mexico


Saturday night was set up to be a celebration of New Mexico 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, behind 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 three 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 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.

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 lead 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

Field Level Media was founded by sports media executives with more than 40 years of combined experience working with the most influential media companies in the industry.

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