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Utes cough up a late lead to suffer first loss

Olney's 3 gives Lobos 77-74 winRoyce Olney has rarely seen a 3-point shot he didn't like, and the last look he got Sunday he'll treasure for a long time.

Olney's two 3s in the final minute - including the game-winner with 4.6 seconds remaining, carried No. 14 New Mexico to a 77-74 win over No. 3 Utah.New Mexico (16-3, 6-1 WAC) extended its homecourt winning streak to 38 games - second longest in the country behind Kansas' 57 wins at Allen Field House - and toppled the last remaining unbeaten Division I team.

"The ball was in my hands and I didn't want to let go of it," said Olney, whose earlier 3-pointer had cut Utah's lead to 73-72 with 1:03 remaining. "I didn't know if I was going to dunk it or shoot from there (behind the 3-point arc). So I just shot."

Utah (18-1, 6-1) had a final chance to force overtime and to preserve its school-record 18-game winning streak. The Utes, who lost despite shooting nearly 62 percent, got the ball to Drew Hansen. His 3-pointer swished through, but the officials ruled the ball had not left his hands when the clock expired.

New Mexico overcame a 73-67 deficit in the final 1:27 by going to a fullcourt press and forcing Utah point guard Andre Miller into a pair of turnovers that the Lobos converted into a slam dunk by Clayton Shields and an Olney 3-pointer.

Miller, whom New Mexico couldn't stop until the final minute, was hit in the back of the head and lay on court for several minutes after his first turnover.

"He (Olney) just hit me in the back of the head," Miller said. "It was a horrible call. When it gets a little physical, they (officials) have to blow the whistle."

Olney, who has hit 59 of 121 3-pointers this season, finished with 22 points. He hit 6 of 7 3-pointers, including his game-winner from 21 feet. Clayton Shields scored 20 points, including 7 in the final 21/2 minutes.

For most of the game, it appeared the Utes, the last team to beat New Mexico in Albuquerque, would end the Lobos' winning streak that dates back to Jan. 27, 1996.

Led by the brilliant shooting and court leadership of Miller, the Utes opened up a 42-29 lead on Michael Doleac's short hook early in the second half.

Miller, who hit 10 of 12 shots, scored 24 points. Time and again he kept the Utes in front, giving Utah a 73-67 lead with 1:27 left with two free throws.

But by then, New Mexico's strategy to go to a full court press in the final minutes had started to take its toll on the Utes and their lead.

Olney hit two free throws to cut the deficit to 73-69, then stole the ball from Miller on the ensuing inbounds pass. Instead of going in for a layup, Olney backed up behind the 3-point line and from the baseline with 1:03 remaining.

Two free throws by Kenny Thomas with 22 seconds left gave New Mexico a 74-73 lead - its first of the day.

New Mexico then fouled Utah forward Alex Jensen with 14 seconds left. With a standing-room only crowd of 18,018 providing a deafening roar, Jensen missed the first free throw, but made the second for the tie.

Olney then took over, dribbled past midcourt, pulled up and hit the biggest shot of his career.

Utah missed 5 of 8 free throws in the final 51/2 minutes and that, and the late turnovers, were the difference, said coach Rick Majerus.

"You must hit free throws and you have to take care of the ball," he said.