December 22, 2014

Arizona grinded out a close victory in its first true road game, extending the nation's longest non-conference winning streak.

The third-ranked Wildcats will get another chance to add to their run Tuesday night at UNLV in their final tune-up before Pac-12 play.

The Wildcats (12-0) defeated eight home opponents by an average of 22.7 points and were tested in a neutral setting while winning last month's Maui Invitational.

Arizona won its first road game 60-55 against UTEP on Friday night, their Division I-leading 39th straight regular-season non-conference victory. The Miners had won 34 of their last 41 at home.

The Wildcats committed 17 turnovers, one shy of their season worst, went 15 for 26 from the free-throw line and trailed with 12 minutes remaining.

They forced 18 turnovers and held UTEP to 40.7 percent shooting, however, after it had shot 61.0 percent (64 for 105) in its previous two games.

"We made the plays when we needed to," coach Sean Miller said. "We knew it was gonna be a hard-fought game here, especially with the crowd like that. Those are all things you grow from. This was a great test for us. Whether we won or lost, we feel like we're a better team."

Miller's team hasn't lost a regular-season non-conference game since a 71-60 defeat to Gonzaga in Seattle on Dec. 17, 2011.

Freshman Stanley Johnson had with 17 points and a season-high four steals in his road debut. He has scored 17-plus in five of his last seven and his 14.7 scoring average leads all Pac-12 freshmen.

"It was a good game. I enjoyed it," Johnson said. "It was the first road test for me as a freshman and I was interested to see how I'd respond."

Arizona opens conference play against Arizona State on Jan. 4, but will first aim for its second win in nine tries at UNLV. The Wildcats received 13 points apiece from Brandon Ashley and T.J. McConnell in a 63-58 home win on Dec. 7, 2013.

The Rebels (7-3) are trying to avoid falling to 0-4 against Pac-12 schools. They lost 89-60 to Stanford in Brooklyn on Nov. 21, 77-55 at Arizona State on Dec. 3 and 59-46 against No. 14 Utah on Saturday.

Coach Dave Rice was happy with limiting Utah to four offensive rebounds after the Rebels had been surrendering 14.0 per game, but UNLV shot 32.7 percent from the field and was outscored 35-23 in the second half.

"Our number one key was to do a great job on the defensive boards, and we were able to do it," Rice said. "But it is very frustrating to meet that goal and not be very efficient on the offensive end. We just didn't get enough stops and make enough solid plays in the second half."

Rebounding will be crucial again against Arizona, which averages a plus-8.3 differential on the boards.

The Rebels also boast one of the nation's top freshmen in Rashad Vaughn, who is averaging 24.5 points in four home games. Vaughn struggled against those Pac-12 opponents, however, going 13 for 36 from the field and averaging 11.0 points.

UNLV, which has dropped 11 of 12 against top-10 teams, leads the all-time series 11-7.

You May Like

Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)