- Associated Press - Thursday, January 16, 2014

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - As far as stats in the box score, nothing UNLV Carlos Lopez-Sosa did particularly stood out Wednesday against New Mexico.

He missed all three of his shots, grabbed but two rebounds and had one assist in his 19 minutes off the bench.

But he was pest in the post in helping the Runnin’ Rebels beat the Lobos 76-73.

“I thought Carlos Lopez-Sosa was a huge factor in the game inside,” said UNLV coach Dave Rice. “He could match up. His leadership has been great. I gave him the imaginary game ball. You talk about a guy who has played limited minutes all season long. He stayed positive and played major minutes tonight and he was a huge part of the victory.”

It was a game that went down to the final tick of the clock.

“It was one of those games, like a lot of our games, that could have gone either way,” Rice said. “And we made enough plays to win.”

Bryce Dejean-Jones led the way offensively for UNLV (11-6, 2-2 Mountain West), scoring 23 points, including 11-of-13 from the foul line, something Rice stressed heading into the game.

“One of the big things for us playing at altitude was to try and drive the ball and try to get fouls on them and try to get to the free throw line,” Rice said. “Get a little bit of rest, stop the momentum.”

It also had the added benefit of sending New Mexico star post Cameron Bairstow, who finished with a game-high 27 points, to the bench early in the game with two fouls in what turned out to be a key juncture.

With Bairstow watching, the Rebels went on a 20-3 run that put them up for good at 28-12.

“I thought they would come in with a little better mindset,” New Mexico coach Craig Neal said of his team. “A little tougher mindset. But they didn’t start out that way. And it’s hard when you’re down 15 points in the first half and you have to battle, battle, battle to get back.”

New Mexico (12-4, 3-1) had its chances in the closing minutes, pulling within 74-73 with 1:24 left.

But with 30 seconds left, Bairstow he missed a baseline jumper with a defender in his face. Kevin Olekaibe, who had 14 points and went 4 of 5 from 3-point range, then hit two from the free throw line with 26.8 seconds left.

The Lobos’ had three chances to tie the game, including Neal’s clean look on the final play, but the ball hit the rim and bounded away.

“We came in with great energy and this was a terrific win for us,” Rice said. “Everyone who went into the game contributed. And you have to have that to come in and win in the Pit.”

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