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Rebels rally in second half, pick up second ranked win of season + first conference win

When it needed it most, UNLV muscled out another statement win, beating a ranked team for the second time this year.

The Runnin’ Rebels shocked the No. 21 New Mexico Lobos, 84-77, Saturday, Jan. 7 in front of the largest crowd at The Pit in Albuquerque since March 2009.

For the first time since 2015, UNLV has beaten multiple ranked opponents in the same season, sending New Mexico to a second straight loss after starting the year 14-0. More importantly, the victory counted as the team’s first Mountain West win of the conference season.

After losing their third game in four outings, the Rebels had a week off to prepare for their second ranked test of the year. Earlier this season, the program took down a then No. 21-ranked Dayton Flyers.

UNLV sits in eighth place in the Mountain West after picking up conference win No. 1. Next up, the team will return home where it will meet the Boise State Broncos Wednesday, Jan. 11. Tip-off is slated for 8 p.m.

Boise State will be coming off a 23-point win over 13-3 Utah State.

Fifth-year guard EJ Harkless had everything working for him in the second half. This included when New Mexico guard Jamal Mashburn Jr. stepped to the free throw line for three with a chance to cut it to one with 22.5 left in regulation.

Harkless lunged at Mashburn as he attempted a three-pointer, hitting him on the hand. That counted as Harkless’ fifth and disqualifying foul of the game.

Prior to that moment, Harkless had found his groove in the second 20-minute session, scoring 21 of his 25 points in the second half. He avoided a traveling violation late in regulation to go to get a floater to fall, putting the Rebels up six with 40.4 left on the clock.

UNLV ultimately won the second half by 12 after a 4-0 run for New Mexico gave the home team a five-point lead heading into halftime. Overall, the Rebels led for only 17:45 of the 40-minute ball game.

Senior guard Luis Rodriguez also did most of his heavy-lifting in the second half, scoring nine of his 12 points after halftime. He put the Rebels up seven points with two minutes left via an and-one layup plus the free throw.

Rodriguez was held without a point for most of the first half, scoring his first points of the game with under a minute to play before the intermission.

As a team, UNLV didn’t score its first points of the game until more than three minutes from tip-off. As a result, New Mexico raced out to an 8-0 start and eventually led by as many as 12 points in the first half.

It was a 16-6 run by the Rebels to cut the deficit to two in that first half to get back into swinging distance.

At the sound of the final buzzer, UNLV had made 52% of their field goal attempts while New Mexico shot 43% from the floor. This was highlighted by a 56% to 34% edge in the second half for the Rebels.

Fifth-year guard Jordan McCabe recorded 10 of his 12 points in the first half and kept the visitors afloat while the Lobos went on their run to start the contest.

Sophomore guard Keshon Gilbert and senior center David Muoka were the final UNLV players in double-figures with 14 and 12 points respectively.


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