ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) -Kendall Wallace got into an efficient flow. So smooth, in fact, that he made nearly everything he put up.
Wallace made six of his seven 3-pointers in the second half and finished with a career-high 21 points, leading UNLV to a 74-62 win over No. 15 New Mexico on Saturday to end the Lobos' 19-game winning streak at The Pit.
``Sometimes you get that feel,' said Wallace, who came off the bench to spark the Rebels (13-3, 1-1 Mountain West). ``They left me open a couple of times and I knocked a couple down. I had that feel. I was just shooting without even thinking about it.'
Wallace shot 7 of 10 from 3-point range and Tra'Von Willis scored 20, helping UNLV salvage an important split on a demanding road trip. Three nights earlier, the Rebels lost at No. 25 BYU after faltering down the stretch in its Mountain West opener.
``I'm proud of the guys. They hung in there,' UNLV coach Lon Kruger said. ``Much like the BYU game, we'd edge out there and they'd come back. We finished it much better today than we did Wednesday. I'm really happy for our guys. Good win in a tough place against a good team.'
Dairese Gary scored 17 points, Roman Martinez had 15 and Darington Hobson added 14 for New Mexico (14-3, 0-2), which won its first 12 games to reclaim a spot in the national rankings for the first time in 11 seasons but now has lost three of its last five.
The Lobos have only one senior, and their youth has been showing lately. They lost at San Diego State on Tuesday, and Wallace ended any hope for a bounce-back victory.
``It's fragile right now. We've got a young team,' New Mexico coach Steve Alford said. ``Those young guys, they've never been hit in the mouth. We haven't had that all year long. We're going to see how we handle getting punched in the mouth.'
UNLV led 36-30 at the break but New Mexico chipped at the margin, got the fans involved and seemed poised to run the Rebels out of The Pit. The Lobos led 46-45 with 10:31 remaining after Will Brown scored after a nice feed from Hobson to cap a 6-0 burst.
But Wallace steadied everything for UNLV with two 3-pointers and the Rebels scored the next 11 points for a 56-46 lead with 6:34 to go.
The Lobos weren't finished, but neither was Wallace.
He kept shooting and hit consecutive 3-pointers to put the Rebels up 64-51 with 4:57 remaining. When New Mexico trimmed the deficit to 68-62 on a 3-point play by Gary with 1:44 on the clock, Wallace stroked another 3-pointer that silenced the crowd.
``He caught on fire,' said Alford, one of the game's best shooters during his playing days at Indiana. ``We tried a lot of different things and they did a good job of finding him. He made shots. ... Matchup wise we did a decent job, but Wallace really got away from us in the second half.'
The last player to find such an effective rhythm against New Mexico was Kevin Kruger, son of UNLV's coach. He hit 7 of 9 from 3-point range when the Rebels won 85-83 on Feb. 28, 2007.
``Kendall made big shots,' Lon Kruger said. ``He made several at critical times that either got us the lead or widened the lead out. He kept them from making a charge.'
The Lobos got an inspirational boost before tipoff from former New Mexico standout Luc Longley, the 7-foot-2 Australian who won three NBA titles as a member of the Michael Jordan-led Chicago Bulls. Longley heard his old college team was playing well and returned from Down Under to check it out.
The big fellow could have picked a better game.
New Mexico shot 29 percent in the second half at San Diego State, then had trouble finding the range to start this one. They shot 36 percent (18-of-50) after missing 10 of their first 15 attempts and fell behind 17-6 before rallying for a brief 23-21 lead.
``We'll just try to find some answers. That's all you can do,' said Alford, looking ahead to Wednesday's game against Utah. ``It's a long season, a long grind. One of these two teams was going to start 0-2 and both teams are pretty good. Unfortunately, it's us.'
The Associated Press News Service
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