December 18, 2015

Arizona has the nation's longest home winning streak. It also hasn't faced the stiffest competition at the McKale Center this season.

That will change quickly with Pac-12 play right around the corner and Saturday night's matchup with a UNLV team that has beaten two teams ranked in the top 15 - and one that has given Arizona plenty of problems lately.

The No. 13 Wildcats (10-1) extended their home streak to 45 by blowing out Northern Arizona 92-37 on Wednesday. The 55-point victory was Arizona's largest since beating Saint Mary's 101-41 in December 2000, though Sean Miller's team labored early.

Arizona led by 16 after 20 minutes, but Miller lit into his team at halftime and the Wildcats responded by shooting 74.1 percent after the break and limiting the Lumberjacks to 13 second-half points.

''We can't take a half off, a play off, a game off. We're not that good of a team. Very few teams are,'' Miller said. ''We have to stand for something and for us, the one thing we can control is our togetherness and effort on defense.

"Tonight is another learning lesson," he added, "Saturday is a brand new challenge."

There have been few home challenges in the early going. The seven opponents Arizona has played at the McKale Center have a combined .382 winning percentage, with 5-4 Missouri the only one from a major conference.

UNLV (8-3) represents a wholesale departure from that, having defeated then-No. 13 Indiana in the Maui Invitational on Nov. 25 and then-No. 15 Oregon on Dec. 4. The Runnin' Rebels should also be highly motivated after letting a win over another Power 5 opponent slip through their fingers Wednesday.

UNLV had a 14-point lead on Arizona State early in the second half but made three field goals the rest of the way in a 66-56 loss.

''My biggest concern is making sure we stay together. This is a very, very difficult loss,'' coach Dave Rice said. ''We have to respond to this and we have to regroup. We got to go defensive rebound the ball. We just got to find a way.''

The Runnin' Rebels had no such trouble with their rebounding against the Wildcats on Dec. 23, winning 71-67 at home for their third victory in four matchups.

Arizona came into that game 12-0 and No. 3 in the poll. The Runnin' Rebels held a 46-33 edge on the glass against a Wildcats team that ended the season second in the nation in rebounding margin.

Arizona is 10th in rebounding margin at plus-12.2 this season, while UNLV is at plus-0.7 and had 13 fewer boards than the Sun Devils.

Ryan Anderson had 18 points and 12 rebounds Wednesday and leads the Wildcats with 15.8 and 9.6 per game.

Mark Tollefsen recorded season highs of 19 points and eight boards in his fourth straight game off the bench. The senior transfer from San Francisco, who averages 9.2 points, scored 17 against Missouri three days earlier.

"Every time he plays a game he gets that much more comfortable," Miller said. "No question he gives us more scoring, more rebounding, more versatility, and it's just great to see."

UNLV didn't have a player reach double figures against ASU, as Ike Nwamu and Stephen Zimmerman each scored nine and combined to shoot 5 of 21. Leading scorer Patrick McCaw (15.8) was limited to five points for the second time in three games.

"It's all about pace and consistency over 40 minutes," Rice said. "I know I keep saying the same thing, but it's that simple yet it's that hard."

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