ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Freshman guard Dedan Thomas Jr. scored a career-high 25 points, leading UNLV to an 80-77 upset of No. 25 New Mexico on Saturday.
It was the second consecutive home loss for the Lobos (19-5, 7-4 Mountain West), who hadn’t been beaten at home before that.
Rob Whaley Jr. added 16 points for the Runnin’ Rebels (13-9, 6-4), who swept the two-game season series.
Jaelen House and Donovan Dent each scored 20 to lead New Mexico. House, however, was 4 of 15 from the field and teammate Jamal Mashburn Jr. went 3 for 15 in scoring 11 points.
UNLV took the lead for good with just over a minute remaining on a short hook shot by Kalib Boone.
New Mexico used a 12-0 run midway through the second half to take a 57-54 lead with 11:20 remaining. It went back and forth from there, with the game tied five times.
UNLV scored the first seven points of the game and held the Lobos scoreless for more than four minutes. They didn’t make a field goal until six minutes in when Mashburn drove the lane for a layup.
The Rebels built their advantage to 16-4 before New Mexico pulled to 18-15.
New Mexico took its first lead by closing the first half with a 7-2 run, capped by JT Toppin’s three-point play, to go up 40-39. But after the Lobos made the first bucket of the second half, UNLV scored the next nine points to open a 48-42 advantage.
New Mexico dropped out of a tie for first place in the MWC and could fall out of the AP Top 25 on Monday.
The Rebels’ win pushes them into the chase for the conference title, just one loss behind the frontrunner, which will be the winner of a late game Saturday between co-leaders Boise State and Utah State.
New Mexico heads to Nevada on Tuesday. The Lobos routed Nevada two weeks ago, 89-55.
UNLV plays at Fresno State on Wednesday after beating the Bulldogs 78-69 two weeks ago.
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AP college basketball: https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-college-basketball-poll and https://apnews.com/hub/college-basketball