No. 2 Arizona edges UNLV

Updated: December 7, 2013

Tucson, AZ ( – T.J. McConnell and Brandon Ashley both scored
13 points to lead the second-ranked Arizona Wildcats to a 63-58 win over the
UNLV Runnin’ Rebels.

McConnell added seven rebounds, six assists and three steals for an Arizona
team that could be the new No. 1 after top-ranked Michigan State lost to North
Carolina on Wednesday.

The Wildcats (9-0) have not sat atop the AP poll since March 10, 2003.

“It’s an honor that you earn. It never comes your way,” said Arizona coach
Sean Miller. “There’s not a player, coach or even our fans that doesn’t want
to say that they’ve watched or participated or were part of the No. 1 team in
the nation.

“How long we have that is not up to us, but I feel like we’ve earned it
through our performance. We have something that I think is an honor. I’m happy
for our players and great fans.”

Nick Johnson and Kaleb Tarczewski had 12 points apiece in the Wildcats’ 13th
straight home win over a non-conference opponent.

Bryce Dejean-Jones paced UNLV (3-4) with 16 points, while Khem Birch posted a
double-double of 12 points and 10 rebounds.

An offensively driven first half gave way to a grind-it-out, defensive second

Arizona opened the second half on a 6-0 run to go up 45-42, but the Rebels
answered with six straight points.

Going back-and-forth was a theme in a contest that saw the lead change hands
18 times.

The Wildcats grabbed a 60-57 lead when McConnell dished to Rondae Hollis-
Jefferson for a slam with 2:20 remaining. After Birch made 1-of-2 free throws,
Aaron Gordon blocked Dejean-Jones’ bid out of bounds. Once the UNLV possession
resumed, Birch missed a shot from the lane.

McConnell then found Ashley for a layup, extending Arizona’s lead to 62-58
with 30 seconds remaining.

After a 3-point try by Dejean-Jones was off the mark, McConnell sank 1-of-2 at
the foul line with 15.3 seconds left to seal the win.

The Rebels shot 64.0 percent and the Wildcats made 51.5 percent from the field
in a first half that ended with the visitors up 42-39. UNLV converted only 28
percent of its shots in the second half, while Arizona’s shooting dropped to
32.4. Both teams were 0-for-8 from 3-point range over the final 20 minutes.

Game Notes

Hollis-Jefferson had nine points, seven rebounds and six assists … Arizona
scored 44 of its points from the paint … The Wildcats owned a 41-29 edge on
the boards. They have won the rebounding battle in all nine games this season
… The last time UNLV played the second-ranked team in the country in a true
road game was at Arkansas on Feb. 10, 1991 … UNLV played its first six games
this season at home … The Rebels still lead the all-time series, 11-7.