UNLV’s stirring win over Texas Christian was a tough act for New Mexico and Utah to follow Thursday.
But the sixth-seeded Utes managed to provide a few thrills with an 82-80 overtime win over the Lobos in the last quarterfinal Thursday in the Mountain West Conference men’s basketball tournament at the Thomas & Mack Center.
Utah (17-13) will face the Rebels in the semifinals at 9 tonight.
Lawrence Borha’s free throw with 5.6 seconds left had the Utes clinging to a two-point lead.
New Mexico got the ball in the hands of its best player, J.R. Giddens, and he drove to the basket as time was expiring. The senior’s layup attempt rolled off the rim — and with it probably went the Lobos’ NCAA Tournament hopes.
Giddens, the Mountain West’s co-Player of the Year, finished with 28 points and 17 rebounds.
Utah was led by 7-foot-1-inch center Luke Nevill, who had 26 points off the bench, including two dunks in the final 1:03 of overtime.
New Mexico (24-8) rallied from an 11-point second-half deficit to pull even at 72 on Chad Toppert’s pair of free throws with 13.6 seconds left in regulation.
The Utes had one last chance to win in regulation but turned the ball over on their final possession.
• San Diego State 53, Air Force 49 — The fourth-seeded Aztecs survived a cold-shooting second half to keep Air Force winless in conference tournament play.
San Diego State (20-11), went 13:47 between field goals, allowing Air Force to erase a 16-point first-half deficit.
The Falcons (16-14) took their first lead, 46-45, when Tim Anderson converted a three-point play with 2:45 to go.
But Richie Williams’ layup with 2:19 left put the Aztecs back on top, 47-46, and they held on to win behind 91 percent free-throw shooting (20-for-22).
Former Cheyenne High School standout Lorrenzo Wade hit 10 of 11 from the line for San Diego State, and Ryan Amoroso made 9 of 10 foul shots and finished with a team-high 15 points.
San Diego State will play top-seeded Brigham Young in the semifinals at 6:30 p.m. today.
"I was pretty confident," Wade said of shooting free throws with the game on the line. "I don’t want to go back to San Diego tonight or tomorrow morning, so I knew I had to try to do whatever I could to help us win the basketball game."
The Aztecs won despite freshman Billy White struggling from flulike symptoms. The former Green Valley High star finished with just two points and five rebounds in 26 minutes.
Anderson scored a game-high 17 points for Air Force.
Contact reporter Steve Carp at firstname.lastname@example.org or (702) 387-2913.