No. 1 Arizona Loses First Game, 61-59, in New Mexico's Pit

From Times Wire Services

Arizona's Craig McMillan missed two shots in the final minute as New Mexico held on to what remained of a late 11-point lead and toppled No. 1-ranked Arizona, 61-59, Saturday night.

Lobo guard Jimmy Rogers scored 15 points, and teammate Darrell McGee added 13 as Arizona, which had beaten four Top 20 teams, lost for the first time this season after opening with 12 consecutive wins.

For New Mexico, playing before a sellout crowd of 18,100 in The Pit, it's been a long road back.

A recruiting scandal shredded the Lobos' program in 1979, a year after they ended Nevada Las Vegas' 72-game winning streak.

Last season, they felt snubbed when they went 25-10 and and were bypassed for the NCAA tournament.

But Saturday night, they just may have made it all the way back.

"It was a great finish. I just couldn't believe it," New Mexico coach Gary Colson said.

Arizona, which never led, had four shots to tie or win in the final 42 seconds but missed them all.

"We need the recognition and that's why we were pumped up for this," Rogers said.

Added Colson: "Everyone was great, but he (Rogers) was the key to the ballgame."

Forward Sean Elliott led Arizona with 27 points.

The Wildcats had a chance to win the game on Elliott's three-point attempt with five seconds left, but it was partially blocked by New Mexico forward Hunter Greene. McMillan missed an 18-footer with one second left.

With 42 seconds to play, McMillan had missed a three-point shot that also would have given Arziona the lead.

Rob Loeffel, New Mexico's center, missed a free throw with 12 seconds left, giving the Wilcats one last chance.

The crowd and a 9-2 surge by New Mexico in the game's first four minutes, helped the Lobos lead by as many as 16 points before settling for a 37-30 halftime advantage.

Arizona was plagued by poor shooting. The Wildcats shot just 38% in the first half, and senior guard Steve Kerr, one of the nation's better three-point shooters, made just 3 of 10 from that range and finished with 11 points.

With Elliott getting 17 points in the second half, the Wildcats methodically battled back. An 11-2 run got Arizona within 56-55 with 5:50 left.

Rogers drove the lane and hit a driving five-footer, and Elliott responded with a layup. A pair of free throws by Greene and a free throw by Charlie Thomas countered an Elliott bank shot with 1:51 left.

After New Mexico freshman Rob Robbins missed the front end of a one-and-one with 21 seconds left, McMillan missed a shot, setting up Loeffel's free throw.

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