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Illinois squeaks past UNLV on Rayvonte Rice’s layup

Illinois’ Rayvonte Rice contests shot by UNLV’s Bryce Dejean-Jones Tuesday Las Vegas. Rice had 25 points 10 rebounds. | Getty

Illinois’ Rayvonte Rice contests a shot by UNLV’s Bryce Dejean-Jones on Tuesday in Las Vegas. Rice had 25 points and 10 rebounds. | Getty Images

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Updated: November 27, 2013 12:38AM

LAS VEGAS — Rayvonte Rice scored a career-high 25 points, including the winning layup with 27 seconds left to lead Illinois past UNLV 61-59 on Tuesday night.

Rice, a redshirt junior, also had a career high 10 rebounds to lead Illinois (6-0), which has not lost in its last 25 November games.

UNLV had a chance to win, but Kevin Olekaibe’s desperation 3-pointer from the right corner rattled off the rim for the Rebels (2-3), who were held scoreless in the final 4:16.

Khem Birch led the Rebels with 12 points, 10 rebounds and 4 blocks. Bryce Dejean-Jones added 11 points, while Olekaibe had 10. Nnanna Egwu added 12 points for Illinois.

UNLV’s Roscoe Smith, the nation’s leading rebounder averaging 16.3 per game, had 13 boards.

Trailing 39-29 at halftime, the Illini scored second half’s first five points and eventually took a 51-49 lead.

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