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New Mexico Stuns No. 3 Arizona

The rabid New Mexico fans had been grumbling as new coach Fran Fraschilla got off to a slow start.

A 70-68 victory at Arizona should quiet them for a while.

"We were 5-5 in here and people were down on us, even in our own city," New Mexico's John Robinson said. "This will help us a great deal."

No kidding. The third-ranked Wildcats had won 37 in a row at home, the fourth-longest streak in major-college basketball.

"It's just a great win for what has also been a storied basketball program at New Mexico," Fraschilla said "It's a great win for our players because they've got a new coaching staff, and it's a great way to move into the next part of Lobo history."

Roland Hannah scored on a rebound with 1.4 seconds to play to give New Mexico the stunning victory.

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  • Hannah admitted he could have been called for a foul on the play for pushing Arizona's Michael Wright out of the way to get the ball.

    "I thought the ref was going to call a foul because I felt like I pushed Wright underneath the basket," Hannah said, "but he didn't call it."

    It was the kind of rough play that the Lobos used from the start.

    "One of the things you do when you take on the bully on the block is you have to get the first punch in. That's always important," Fraschilla said.

    Kevin Henry scored nine of his 18 points in the final 4@1/2 minutes, including a four-point play, as New Mexico (6-5) became the first team to beat Arizona at McKale Center since UCLA won 66-64 on Feb. 13, 1997. Only Murray State, Utah and Duke have longer homecourt streaks.

    Arizona is highest-ranked team New Mexico has beaten on the road since 1966, when it beat defending national champion Texas Wesern, which was ranked No. 2.

    "I never lost at home in high school or junior high," Arizona's Richard Jefferson said. "This is my first loss at home ever."

    Arizona (9-2), a 21-point favorite, was in trouble throughout.

    "There was no doubt in my mind whatsoever that the team that deserved to win won the game," Arizona coach Lute Olson said. "They played harder and they played smarter than we did."

    Lamont Long, who also scored 18, made both halves of a 1-and-1 free throw opportunity to put New Mexico up 68-66 with 45.1 seconds to play. Loren Woods, who scored 16 for Arizona, made two free throws to tie it 68-68 with 34.4 seconds remaining.

    The Lobos worked for the last shot. Long missed a 10-foot jumper but Hannah grabbed the rebound and banked it in for the winning basket.

    After a timeout, the Wildcats inbounded to Jason Gardner in frontcourt. He was knocked off balance but no foul was called and his desperation shot was off the mark as Olson charged the court to complain about the lack of a call.

    "It is hard losing at home because of the fan support and because of the streak," Gardner said. "We have to regroup. There is a long season to go. We missed a lot of shots. We rushed too much. We need to know how to relax at the end of a game."

    Jefferson scored 14 of his 17 points in the second half for Arizona, but missed a jumper with the game tied at 66-66 and about 50 seconds to go. Jefferson fouled out on the play, sending Long to the foul line for the go-ahead free throws.

    Jefferson, who played only seven minutes in the first half because of foul trouble, scored six consecutive points, four on free throws, to put Arizona up 58-51 with 6:19 to play.

    But the Lobos came back. Henry sank consecutive 3-pointers, and was fouled by Jefferson on the second one. He made the free throw for a four-point play that tied it 60-60 with 3:57 to go.

    The game was tied three more times before Hannah's winning shot.

    Arizona is at its best in a fast-paced game, and the Lobos played rough, physical defense while forcing the Wildcats into a mostly halfcourt game. New Mexico was called for 30 fouls, including an intentional one, compared with 14 against Arizona.

    New Mexico scored nine in a row, taking a 28-20 lead on Wayland White's fast-break layup with 4:32 to play in the first half.

    "The key in this game was the first few minutes," Olson said. "A team, especially at home, has to come out and establish itself. They are the ones that established they could play with us, and beat us."

    Gardner sank a 3-pointer, his only field goal of the half, with 42 seconds to play to give the Wildcats a 34-33 lead at the break.

    Gilbert Arenas scored 14 but only four in the second half. Wright was 1-for-5 and scored two points. Gardner was just 2-for-11 from the field.

    New Mexico had won only once in 11 games at McKle Center, 93-81 on Jan. 14, 1978. The Lobos had lost six straight in Tucson since then, but beat the seventh-ranked Wildcats 79-78 in Albuquerque last season. The Lobos also knocked off then-No. 1 Arizona 61-59 at Albuquerque in 1988.

    If it's any consolation, the last time Arizona lost at home, it went on to win the national championship.

    ©1999 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed

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