The Arizona Wildcats held off a feisty UNLV Runnin' Rebels team Saturday, eking out a 63-58 victory at the McKale Center. Arizona overcame a poor shooting performance by dominating the offensive glass against the Rebels. With their win and a loss earlier in the week by Michigan State, the Wildcats should be the No. 1 team in the AP Poll Monday morning for the first time since 2003.
Point guard T.J. McConnell was the spark plug for U of A, dishing out six assists and picking off three UNLV passes. His find of Rondae Hollis-Jefferson for an easy dunk put the Wildcats up three with just over two minutes left in the game. The lead would never change hands again, with UNLV missing its last four field goal attempts.
While Arizona didn't shoot well -- just 41 percent from the field -- it was hard work around the basket that made the difference for Arizona. Six Wildcat players grabbed five or more rebounds, with Aaron Gordon and Kaleb Tarczewski grabbing eight apiece.
Bryce Dejean-Jones led the way for UNLV, scoring 16 and hitting two of the Rebels' four three-pointers. Khem Birch finished with a double-double, compiling 12 points and ten rebounds in the losing effort.
Arizona has two more tough games upcoming, playing New Mexico State and Michigan in the next week.