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New Mexico State Leads by 20, Then Caves In to Las Vegas, 80-69

February 22, 1987|Associated Press

LAS CRUCES, N.M. — Armon Gilliam scored 23 points in the second half as top-ranked Nevada Las Vegas used a full-court press to rally from a 20-point deficit for an 80-69 Pacific Coast Athletic Assn. victory over New Mexico State Saturday.

Gilliam finished with 27 points as the Rebels (28-1 overall, 16-0 in the PCAA) ran their winning streak to 13 games.

New Mexico State (14-13, 8-8) built a 42-22 lead late in the first half but couldn't withstand the pressure applied by Las Vegas.

"I told them at halftime it would be a test of their character," UNLV Coach Jerry Tarkanian said. "I didn't think we could go fullcourt the entire (second) half because we played on Thursday and then traveled (Friday). But our defense and intensity were incredible."

UNLV trailed, 43-24, at halftime, but outscored the Aggies, 14-2, to start the second half and cut the Aggie lead to 45-38.

The press forced New Mexico State into seven turnovers in the first 7 1/2 minutes of the second half. With 10:04 left, the Aggies' lead was down to 54-51 when they totally lost control.

Kenny Travis, who scored 22 of his 25 points in the first half, fouled out and Aggie Coach Neil McCarthy was hit with a technical while arguing about the call.

Freddie Banks converted four free throws and then scored on a reverse layup on UNLV's ensuing possession. That gave the Rebels their first lead since the opening minute of the game. A 10-2 run by Las Vegas minutes later, on a pair of dunks by Gilliam and consecutive 3-point shots by reserve guard Gary Graham, put the game away.

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