UNLV comeback tops Colorado State in opener, 78-76

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Cheikh Mbacke Diong scored a layup with a second left to cap a second-half UNLV comeback in its Mountain West Conference opener with Colorado State, 78-76 on Wednesday night.

The Runnin’ Rebels trailed by 10, 61-51 with 12:58 left in their first home game since December 1.

Kris Clyburn started the comeback, sandwiching a 3 and a layup around Joel Ntambwe’s jumper and Amauri Hardy scored at the basket with 9:37 remaining to make it 63-60. Noah Robotham’s 3 with 1:30 left tied the game at 76-76. The Rams missed two layups and Paige misfired on a 3-point attempt with :33 left. Hardy missed a jumper with :02 left and Diong grabbed the carom and put it back for the game winner.

Clyburn and Ntambwe each scored 17 points and Clyburn and Jonathan Tchamwa Tchatchoua each grabbed 12 rebounds for UNLV (7-6).

Nico Carvacho scored 28 points and grabbed 20 rebounds for Colorado State, which opened conference on the road for the fourth consecutive season. Paige finished with 20 points on 3-for-6 shooting from beyond the arc.