Nevada comeback earns sweep of UNLV, 76-72

RENO, Nev. (AP) Cole Huff drilled a jumper with 33 seconds left to play as Nevada erased a 17-point second deficit and knocked off UNLV, 76-72 Saturday night and claim the No. 3 seed and a first-round bye in next week’s Mountain West Conference tournament.

The win gives the Wolf Pack a season sweep of UNLV after beating the Rebels in Las Vegas on January 8, 74-71. Nevada’s last win over UNLV at home was December 4, 2004.

Kevin Olekaibe hit a 3-pointer with 1:53 left in the first half to give UNLV the lead, 35-33, sparking a 9-2 finish by the Rebels to take a 41-35 left at the half.

Christian Wood opened the second half by converting a three-point play to spark an 13-2 run capped by Olekaibe’s jumper with 16:13 left in the game gave UNLV a 17-point lead, 54-37.

Nevada (15-16, 10-8 Mountain West) scored the next 11 straight points, fueled by 3-pointers by Huff and Deonte Burton.

Deville Smith hit a 3 for UNLV, but Huff and Burton both drilled 3s for the Wolf Pack and when Huff added a jumper with 10:35 left, Nevada trailed by just one, 57-56.

Smith hit a 3 to give the Rebels the lead, 70-67 with 4:14 left, but Michael Perez answered with a Nevada 3 to even the score and Burton’s layup with 3:07 left gave the Wolf Pack the lead.

Khem Birch got to the basket for a layup with 1:19 left to even the score, 72-72, but missed a free throw that would have given UNLV the lead.

Burton missed a jumper with 38 seconds left, but Huff grabbed the offensive rebound and hit a jumper of his own seconds later to give Nevada the lead for good. Marqueze Coleman added two free throws with seven seconds left to create the final margin.

Burton and Huff finished with 24 and 22 points, respectively, as Nevada shot 46.8 percent from the field (29 of 62). Perez finished with 11 points.

Smith and Jelan Kendrick finished with 16 points each for UNLV (19-12, 10-8). Birch finished with 14 points and pulled down 22 rebounds for the Rebels while Olekaibe added 10 points.