Rebels close in on first place

Senior forward Wendell White probably summed up UNLV's tougher-than-expected 76-72 overtime victory over New Mexico at the Thomas & Mack Center on Saturday night best. "We're happy with the results," White, who scored all 16 of his points after halftime, including two key baskets in overtime, said. "It wasn't a pretty win, but we got it."

The victory, UNLV's 13th in its last 15 games, moved the Runnin' Rebels (18-4, 5-2) into a tie for second place with BYU (15-6, 5-2) in the Mountain West Conference standings behind Air Force (19-3, 6-2).

Sophomore forward Joe Darger's 3-pointer from the left corner with 38.5 seconds remaining tied the game in regulation for UNLV, which trailed most of the second half against the J.R. Gidden-less Lobos (12-10, 1-6).

It appeared the game might be headed for a second overtime when Lobo guard Ryan Kersten sank one of two free throws with 12.1 seconds left to tie the game eighth and final time, 72-72, in overtime.

But UNLV guard Wink Adams, who finished with a game-high 27 points, was fouled while driving to the basket by Lobo guard Darren Prentice with 3.1 seconds left. Adams then sank both shots to give UNLV a 74-72 lead.

On the ensuing inbounds pass, Prentice threw the ball right to Adams as New Mexico point guard Jamaal Smith broke to his left. Adams was then fouled by forward Tony Dandridge with 1.2 seconds left and sealed the win with two more free throws.

UNLV won despite committing 15 turnovers, one more than the Lobos, and shooting just 66.7 percent (18 of 27) from the free throw line.

"I knew my team was counting on me," Adams said of going 4-of-4 at the foul line in the final seconds with the game on the line. "Tonight I just took my time like Coach (Lon Kruger) always tells me to do and I was able to knock them down."

Darger finished with just three points and had missed his previous two 3-point attempts before his clutch shot near the end of regulation.

"Oh, I was aware of the situation," Darger said. "I didn't think about it too much. I just went out there and played. I just shot it like I would in practice. You just kind of shoot and not think about that too much. If you think about it too much, you're not focused on what you're supposed to do."

The Rebels have little time to enjoy their latest win. They leave Monday for Fort Collins and a Tuesday night date with much-improved Colorado State (14-4, 4-3) at Moby Arena.

"I think it's going to be like this the whole season," Darger said of UNLV's third overtime contest in seven conference games. "I think (the standings) will be all bunched up. There are a lot of good teams in our league. You've just got to come out and fight every night."

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