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Wolf Pack goes down to Las Vegas and stuns Rebels

Deonte Burton had 29 points Wednesday night as the Nevada Wolf Pack beat the UNLV Rebels 74-71 in Las Vegas.
Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

The best college basketball team in the state of Nevada resides in Reno.

The Nevada Wolf Pack stunned the UNLV Rebels Wednesday night at Thomas & Mack Center, 74-71, in a game that really wasn't as close as the final score would indicate.

The Wolf Pack surged to a comfortable 72-58 lead on a 3-pointer by senior point guard Deonte Burton with 3:37 to play. UNLV went on a 13-2 run over the final 3:23 to make the game close at the end. UNLV's Christian Wood scored nine points in the final 20 seconds as the Rebels put on a furious comeback attempt.

The victory ended an eight-game losing streak in the Silver State rivalry for the Wolf Pack. The Wolf Pack's last victory over UNLV was Nov. 26, 2005 by a score of 68-61. The victory was also Wolf Pack coach David Carter's first in six games over the Rebels.

The Pack, which lost seven of its first 11 games this season, has now won three games in a row to improve to 8-8 overall and 3-0 in the Mountain West. UNLV fell to 10-6 and 1-2 and has lost two Mountain West home games in the last five days (to Air Force and the Pack).

The Rebels, though, jumped out to a 34-23 lead with three minutes to go in the first half. A 3-point play by Kendall Smith gave UNLV a 22-16 lead with just over eight minutes to play in the half and a jumper by Deville Smith and a dunk by Kevin Olekaibe put the Rebels up 28-18 with 5:10 to go before halftime.

The Wolf Pack, however, went on a key 9-0 run in the final three minutes of the first half, to jump right back in the game. Burton scored seven of the nine points in the run on two jumpers and a 3-pointer as the Pack cut UNLV's lead to just 36-34 at the half.

The Wolf Pack quickly tied the game at 36-36 on a dunk by Michael Perez and took a 38-36 lead on another dunk by A.J. West less than a minute into the second half.

The Pack dominated the first 15 minutes of the second half.

Cole Huff drained a pair of 3-pointers for leads of 41-36 and 48-39 with 15:03 to go. Perez had a 3-pointer for a 51-42 lead with 13:32 left and later hit two free throws and a jumper for a 57-46 Pack lead with 11:24 left.

Perez, who had 18 points and seven rebounds, also had a 3-pointer for a 63-54 lead with 7:09 to play.

Burton then took over with a jumper and a dunk for a 69-56 Wolf Pack advantage with 5:07 to go. Another three by Burton gave the Pack a 72-58 lead with 3:37 to play before UNLV made things interesting in the final minutes.

Burton finished with 29 points, five rebounds, three assists and no turnovers for one of his greatest performances in his Wolf Pack career. The senior made 12-of-20 shots from the floor.

West, who has helped the Wolf Pack to a 4-1 record since he became eligible five games ago, had 11 points and nine rebounds. Jerry Evans missed all seven of his 3-pointers and finished with just two points but the senior had nine key rebounds and a pair of assists. Huff had six points on his two 3-pointers. Marqueze Coleman returned to the lineup after missing five games with an eye injury and had four points, five rebounds and three assists.

The Wolf Pack was just 10-of-15 from the free throw line while UNLV was 24-of-30. The Rebels, though, were just 3-of-15 from 3-point range. Bryce Dejean-Jones had 15 points to lead the Rebels. Wood finished with 11 while Roscoe Smith had 13 points and 15 rebounds and Khem Birch had 12 points and seven boards.

The Pack was 6-of-19 on 3-pointers and shot 44.6 per cent from the floor. The Rebels shot just 34.9 percent from the floor.

The Pack also turned the ball over just six times while UNLV had just seven turnovers.

The Wolf Pack will host Utah State at Lawlor Events Center on Saturday afternoon (5:05 p.m.). UNLV will visit Lawlor to close out the Wolf Pack's regular season on March 8.

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