Tucson, AZ (SportsNetwork.com) - T.J. McConnell and Brandon Ashley both scored 13 points to lead the second-ranked Arizona Wildcats to a 63-58 win over the UNLV Runnin' Rebels.
McConnell added seven rebounds, six assists and three steals for an Arizona team that could be the new No. 1 after top-ranked Michigan State lost to North Carolina on Wednesday.
The Wildcats (9-0) have not sat atop the AP poll since March 10, 2003.
"It's an honor that you earn. It never comes your way," said Arizona coach Sean Miller. "There's not a player, coach or even our fans that doesn't want to say that they've watched or participated or were part of the No. 1 team in the nation.
"How long we have that is not up to us, but I feel like we've earned it through our performance. We have something that I think is an honor. I'm happy for our players and great fans."
Nick Johnson and Kaleb Tarczewski had 12 points apiece in the Wildcats' 13th straight home win over a non-conference opponent.
Bryce Dejean-Jones paced UNLV (3-4) with 16 points, while Khem Birch posted a double-double of 12 points and 10 rebounds.
An offensively driven first half gave way to a grind-it-out, defensive second frame.
Arizona opened the second half on a 6-0 run to go up 45-42, but the Rebels answered with six straight points.
Going back-and-forth was a theme in a contest that saw the lead change hands 18 times.
The Wildcats grabbed a 60-57 lead when McConnell dished to Rondae Hollis- Jefferson for a slam with 2:20 remaining. After Birch made 1-of-2 free throws, Aaron Gordon blocked Dejean-Jones' bid out of bounds. Once the UNLV possession resumed, Birch missed a shot from the lane.
McConnell then found Ashley for a layup, extending Arizona's lead to 62-58 with 30 seconds remaining.
After a 3-point try by Dejean-Jones was off the mark, McConnell sank 1-of-2 at the foul line with 15.3 seconds left to seal the win.
The Rebels shot 64.0 percent and the Wildcats made 51.5 percent from the field in a first half that ended with the visitors up 42-39. UNLV converted only 28 percent of its shots in the second half, while Arizona's shooting dropped to 32.4. Both teams were 0-for-8 from 3-point range over the final 20 minutes.
Hollis-Jefferson had nine points, seven rebounds and six assists ... Arizona scored 44 of its points from the paint ... The Wildcats owned a 41-29 edge on the boards. They have won the rebounding battle in all nine games this season ... The last time UNLV played the second-ranked team in the country in a true road game was at Arkansas on Feb. 10, 1991 ... UNLV played its first six games this season at home ... The Rebels still lead the all-time series, 11-7.