COLLEGE BASKETBALL : BIG WEST ROUNDUP : UNLV Struggles a Bit, Beats Pacific, 80-59

From Associated Press

Larry Johnson had 26 points and 11 rebounds, but No. 1 Nevada Las Vegas struggled early Thursday night at Las Vegas before putting away Pacific, 80-59, for its 35th consecutive victory.

Johnson made 14 of 15 free throws as Las Vegas used its inside game to pull away from the Tigers in the second half.

Las Vegas, moving to within three victories of an undefeated regular season, appeared lethargic and mistake-prone at times but was never seriously threatened in the Big West Conference game.

"It's nice to have a lull and still win by 20 points," UNLV Coach Jerry Tarkanian said. "(Pacific) controlled the tempo really well and we never got our running game going."

It was the second-lowest point total of the season for Las Vegas, which came into the contest averaging 104.2 points.

The Rebels (24-0, 15-0) led by 23 points with five minutes remaining when Tarkanian cleared his bench.

Anderson Hunt and Stacey Augmon added 12 points apiece for Las Vegas. Dell Demps had 17 and Don Lyttle 16 for Pacific (12-12, 8-7).

Pacific trailed, 43-27, at halftime, but pulled to within 49-39 with 16:50 remaining. It was the closest the Tigers would come.

"When you have some real tough games, it gives you experience for tournament play," Tarkanian said. "But I like winning the way we are. It makes it a lot easier in the coach, believe me."

No. 15 New Mexico State 83, Utah State 75--Reggie Jordan scored 20 points and grabbed 10 rebounds to lead New Mexico State at Logan, Utah.

Tracey Ware added 18 points and nine rebounds for New Mexico State (20-3, 12-2), and Terry Bennett scored 16 points, 15 on three-point baskets.

Utah State (10-14, 7-8) was led by reserve Bryon Ruffner's 19 points. Jay Goodman had 18 points and Kendall Youngblood 15.

New Mexico State used runs of 7-0 and 11-4 in building a 24-15 advantage with 7:45 left in the first half.

New Mexico State led, 39-34, at the half, but had its lead cut to 43-41 with 17:30 to play. With Bennett hitting consecutive three-point baskets, New Mexico State pulled ahead, 58-47, with 12:27 left.

The victory gave New Mexico State's Neil McCarthy his 10th 20-win season in 16 years as a college coach.

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