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UNLV survives UTEP on night team honors ’66 squad

Dec 17, 2012, 10:45 PM EDT

UNLV UTEP Basketball AP

Jacques Streeter’s bucket with 27 seconds left helped UNLV past UTEP on the road, 62-60, on a night that the Miners retired Bobby Joe Hill’s number and wore (those awesome!) throwback jerseys.

It was a close game for the no. 21 Rebels, whose leading scorer was Bryce Dejean-Jones with 12. Anthony Bennett had 10 points, three rebounds and three assists. Four players in all scored double figures in points.

The Miners got 13 out of Julian Washburn as Konner Tucker missed a three-pointer for the win with two seconds left that would’ve won it.

While UTEP isn’t a slouch, even at 3-5, this is clear representation that UNLV will need a few games to adjust without the services of Mike Moser, who is out for about a month, at least, with an elbow injury. This team has the tools to withstand his loss, without a doubt, but he provides it all, from scoring to rebounding to passing and defensive, and finding the right players to collectively pick up the slack will take a few games. This shouldn’t alarm UNLV fans.

Also, Khem Birch scored four points in 14 minutes on 2-of-4 shooting and grabbed three rebounds in his debit for  UNLV tonight. He comes in just in time after Moser’s injury.

As for the other events of the night, UTEP paid homage to the 1966 Texas Western (the name of the school before Texas-El Paso, for you kids) team that beat Kentucky 72-65 in College Park, Maryland for the team’s first and only national title to date. That Miners team was the first to ever start five black players in an NCAA championship game, a significant game in the desegregation of college basketball.

What else did that ’66 team give us? Those awesome jerseys. Orange numbers, tan base with orange and white mini-stripes on the outline. You can (kind of) see them in the photo above. Say what you want, but Don Haskins’ team had style to match the talent.

The program also retired NCAA Championship Game MVP Bobby Joe Hill’s no. 14 during a ceremony at the game. Hill scored 20 points  in the game against Kentucky. Hill passed away from a heart attack at the age of 59 in 2002.

A close game, a nod to history and great jerseys. Fans in El Paso got treated to a trifecta of awesomeness on Monday night.

David Harten is a sportswriter and college basketball blogger. You can follow him on Twitter at @David_Harten.

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