LAS VEGAS — For the second time in five nights, the third-ranked Arizona Wildcats found themselves in a dogfight on the road. But unlike their five-point victory at UTEP on Friday, the Wildcats couldn’t escape with a win this time.
Forward Christian Wood scored a career-high 24 points and grabbed 10 rebounds and forward Rashad Vaughn added 21 points as UNLV held off the Wildcats 71-67 on Tuesday night at Thomas & Mack Center.
The Rebel win snapped Arizona’s 39-game regular-season nonconference winning streak, longest in the nation.
Guard T.J. McConnell scored 14 points and had seven assists and freshman forward Stanley Johnson finished with 13 points and 13 rebounds for Arizona (12-1), which was outrebounded 46-33.
UNLV (8-3), which lost its three previous games against Pac-12 teams Stanford, Arizona State and Utah by an average of 21.3 points, rallied from an early seven-point second-half deficit to tie the game 50-50 on a fast-break layup by guard Patrick McCaw with 13:44 to go.
Arizona went on an 8-2 run, capped by McConnell’s layup, and seemed to regain control of the game.
But with Arizona center Kaleb Tarczewski hampered by four fouls and forward Rondae Hollis-Jefferson on the bench after fouling out with 7:14 remaining, the Rebels roared back to take a 65-62 lead as the 6-foot-11 Wood scored three baskets in less than two minutes.
A driving basket by Vaughn upped UNLV’s lead to five points with 2:14 left. Arizona closed to within 68-67 on a rebound basket by McConnell with 59.7 seconds remaining but missed two chances in the final 32 seconds — a driving layup by Johnson and an open 3-pointer by forward Brandon Ashley, who scored 13 points.
McCaw, who finished with 13 points, sealed the upset by sinking three free throws in the final 6.6 seconds.
Both teams committed eight turnovers in the first half. UNLV had a two-minute stretch in which it coughed up the ball five times, and the Wildcats took advantage, going on an 8-0 spurt to take a 20-12 lead en route to a 41-35 halftime lead.
McConnell repeatedly beat Rebels defenders off the dribble and had 10 points and three assists before the break. Johnson put up nine points and nine rebounds in the opening half.
The Wildcats, who shot 5-of-8 from 3-point range in the opening 20 minutes, also got a big half from Gabe York. The guard was frequently left open in the left corner, where he shot 3-for-4 on 3-pointers.
Vaughn had 10 first-half points, connecting on a pair of treys, to keep the Rebels close.
NOTES: Arizona came into the contest with 33 true road wins since 2009-10, tops in the Pac-12. … The Wildcats entered the night shooting 50.7 percent, which ranked seventh nationally. … UNLV entered the game as a 12-point underdog, the first time since 1995 the Runnin’ Rebels were a double-digit underdog at home. … The Wildcats were the second of three Top 15 opponents UNLV is facing in a 16-day stretch. The Rebels lost to No. 14 Utah 59-46 in the MGM Grand Showcase on Saturday, and they play at No. 10 Kansas on Jan. 4.
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