It may have been too close for comfort, but in the end it did not matter, as Arizona defeated UNLV 63-58 Saturday at McKale.
Arizona jumped out to a quick 4-0 lead that forced UNLV to take a timeout less than two minutes into the game.
Roscoe Smith made two from the line and Jelan Kendrick tied it with a bucket before Tarczewski and Smith exchanged hoops, tying the game at six with 15:58 left in the first half.
Smith and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson exchanged points out of a timeout, but Bryce Dejean-Jones made two free-throws and a three to put the Rebels up 13-8 with 14:08 left in the first half.
Brandon Ashley hit a three out of the timeout, but Christian Wood matched it. T.J. McConnell and Ashley then scored consecutive baskets to cut the UNLV lead to one before a shot by Nick Johnson gave the Wildcats the lead with just under 12 minutes left in the half. Dejean-Jones and Johnson proceeded to match three-pointers and Arizona held its one-point lead about a minute later.
Smith proceeded to score and Johnson answered with two free-throws. Dejean-Jones then hit double digits with a basket, but Hollis-Jefferson scored and Johnson soon made a three-pointer to extend the lead to four. A basket by Ashley then forced UNLV to take a timeout with the UA up 29-23 with 7:01 left in the first half.
Birch and Ashley exchanged baskets before Birch made two free-throws and Deville Smith scored, cutting the Arizona lead to 31-29 with 4:55 left in the first half.
Tarczewski and Gordon scored consecutive hoops before Birch was able to get one in. McConnell and Kevin Olekaibe then did the same as Arizona led 37-33 with 3:15 left.
Olekaibe scored and Hollis-Jefferson responded with a basket, but Arizona then ran into some trouble. Roscoe Smith got a basket and Olekaibe followed with a three before a basket by Kendall Smith gave the Rebels a 42-39 lead at the half.
Ashley started the half with a basket and was followed by McConnell and Tarczewski as UNLV called timeout down 45-42 with 18:39 left in regulation.
After a bucket by Kendrick, Roscoe Smith and Dejean-Jones scored. A shot by McConnell then cut the UNLV lead to 48-47 with 14:20 left in the second half. Birch made one of two free-throws and Tarczewski scored the next time down court. Hollis-Jefferson then made one of two from the line and Gordon and Birch exchanged baskets as Arizona held its 52-51 lead with 11:02 left.
Dejean-Jones gave UNLV the lead with a basket, but Johnson answered as Arizona led 54-53 with 7:40 left in the half. Dejean-Jones scored out of a timeout and McConnell was able to respond with a score off a steal.
Birch scored off a rebound to give the Rebels the lead with 3:21 left in regulation, but McConnell made a jumper the next time down court to grab the lead back. McConnell then found Hollis-Jefferson for a dunk and the Wildcats took a 60-57 lead with 2:11 left.
Birch got to the line and made one of two with just under two minutes left. About a minute later, with the shot clock winding down, McConnell found Ashley for the layup. UNLV then missed a shot and Arizona rebounded with 16.5 second left, as McConnell made one of two from the line to seal the deal.