EL PASO, Texas — When UNLV's Bryce DeJean-Jones went to the free throw line with 16 seconds left Monday night, he had a golden opportunity to make it a two-possession game and essentially put it out of reach for UTEP.
He missed both shots leaving the door wide open for the Miners.
UTEP's Konner Tucker had a last-second opportunity after taking an inbounds pass from the far sideline for a 3-point attempt that bounced up and off the rim.
Tucker fell to the court and UNLV players raised their arms in excitement as they escaped with a 62-60.
"It came down to the last shot," UNLV coach Dave Rice said of the game's final seconds. "We have to do a much better job of keeping our composure when we are challenged on the road . we were challenged today and there are lessons to be learned and yet not to lose the game to a good team is a credit to our guys."
UTEP's perspective was one of disappointment.
"I liked the look we got late from Konner but we didn't get it down," UTEP coach Tim Floyd said. "Tucker hasn't been practicing with us and so our inbounds plays that we run, and I think we execute them well, we couldn't execute them.
"We just drew up something that we knew we could get a look, regardless, and I like the look that we got," Floyd said.
DeJean-Jones had 12 points and Anthony Marshall added 11 for UNLV.
Katin Reinhardt scored 10 points for UNLV (9-1), which had a 17-2 run in the first half and still led by as many as 15 points in the second half before the Miners started their closing run. Anthony Bennett added 10 points.
Bennett was held to one point in the first half, mostly the result of multiple defenses UTEP (3-5) ran against UNLV to try and nullify their scoring.
"As a coaching staff, we knew coming into the game that we would see a lot of different defenses, triangle-and-two, box-and one and zone, so it's always difficult to prepare for UTEP," Rice said. "For us, it was just about trying to maintain our rhythm and taking good shots."
UNLV tried to maintain a rhythm as they shot 44.9 percent from the field and made 10 of 18 free throws, seven coming in the second half. The Runnin' Rebels were 8 for 17 from 3-point range.
"We had the luxury of adding a lot of new pieces but at the same time it kind of messes up the rotation with guys coming in," Marshall said. "Tonight we just found a way (to win). Any time you're playing against a great team on the road, it's going to be tough."
Momentum shifted toward UTEP after there was an altercation near the UNLV bench. After officials reviewed tape, DeJean-Jones was assessed a dead-ball technical with 10:05 left in the second half. C.J. Cooper missed the free throw and UNLV was able to slow the Miners for only another couple minutes before UTEP slowly worked the deficit down thanks to a clutch three-point shot from John Bohannon before the shot-clock buzzer and free throws from Streeter and Tucker down the stretch.
Julian Washburn had 13 points and Tucker, playing in his first game at UTEP, added 12.
UTEP was only 9 for 27 from the field in the first half – with two 3-pointers – before hitting 48 percent from the field in the second half including going 10 of 13 from the line.
"They certainly started shooting better but we lost our focus in the second half on the defensive end, which is unusual for us," Rice said. "I was actually pleased with us on the offensive end in the second half."
Floyd said the difference came early in the game.
"I feel like that game was lost in the first half," Floyd said. "We just played really foolish offensively, really turned the ball over, started isolating Bohannon from the 3-point line, from the lane and I don't know where that came from. As a result we started standing, got on our heels and got outscored by 22 points."