LAS VEGAS (AP) -- Kevin O'Neill knew Arizona's shooting had to improve. He was right.
Jordan Hill had 16 points and 19 rebounds and the 19th-ranked Wildcats rallied from an eight-point deficit in the second half for a 52-49 victory over UNLV on Wednesday night."I'm proud of my guys," said O'Neill, who is coaching the Wildcats this season as Hall of Famer Lute Olson is away on a leave of absence for personal reasons. "We hung in there tonight to win this game. I knew we'd have a chance if we could keep it within striking distance."The Wildcats (8-2) trailed 40-32 with 13:10 to play when Nic Wise and Jerryd Bayless connected on consecutive 3-pointers to cut the deficit to two. The field goals broke a string of nine straight misses by the Wildcats, who shot 34 percent for the game.UNLV (7-3) scored the next five points and held the lead until the game's final three minutes. That's when Wise picked up a loose ball at midcourt and went the distance for an acrobatic layup with 3:08 to play to tie the game at 48.Wise, who finished with nine points and six assists, gave the Wildcats a 49-48 lead when he connected on one of two free throws with 1:18 left. It was their first lead of the game and they never trailed again.Jawann McClellan's 3-pointer with 26 seconds to play put Arizona up by four."Coach told us to keep shooting and that one would fall in," McClellan said. "Luckily mine did. Basketball is a game of percentages and we knew things would eventually swing our way."McClellan finished with 12 points for Arizona, while Bayless had eight.Wink Adams had 19 points for the Rebels, who scored four points over the game's final five minutes, while Joe Darger added 13.The Wildcats missed nine of their first 11 shots, but the 6-foot-10 Hill was consistent throughout as he muscled his way inside against UNLV's lineup that didn't feature a starter taller than 6-6."[UNLV] did a great job guarding him," O'Neill said. "They were fighting through screens to make things hard on us. We made an effort to get him the ball and let him make something happen."Hill had 23 points and 14 rebounds in Arizona's 78-72 overtime victory over Illinois on Dec. 8."He's real comfortable out there," McClellan said of Hill. "What people don't realize is that he was in foul trouble during those games he struggled in early. It's hard to put up numbers on the bench."The size difference meant the Runnin' Rebels had to live up to their nickname."We know we are committed to not being very big so we put a smaller lineup out there and tried to score off turnovers," UNLV coach Lon Kruger said.