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What you need to know about UNLV basketball

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RE-BELS! RE-BELS! RE-BELS!
Photo: Sam Morris
Ray Brewer

… If you haven’t seen a single UNLV game this year:

• The Rebels are 25-8 after losing last week to San Diego State in the Mountain West Conference championship game, 55-45. They have four victories against ranked opponents, against BYU (twice), New Mexico and Louisville.

• Their leading scorer is Tre’Von Willis, who averages 17.3 points per game. Willis, a 6-foot-4 junior guard, played in the Elite Eight with Memphis in 2007 before transferring to UNLV.

• This is UNLV’s 17th appearance in the NCAA Tournament, and third time in four years. “People assume getting into the NCAA Tournament is easy. It’s not,” UNLV coach Lon Kruger said. The Rebels have reached the Final Four four times and won the national title in 1990.

… If you at least set foot in the Thomas & Mack this season:

• Kruger led UNLV to its fourth consecutive 20-win season this year and is 137-61 in six years. He coached Florida to the Final Four in 1994.

• Junior forward Matt Shaw is the lone player left over from the Rebels’ Sweet 16 team in 2007. Shaw and junior shooting guard Kendall Wallace were part of the 2008 team that beat Kent State in the first round before falling to eventual champs Kansas.

• First round opponent Northern Iowa is led by 7-foot senior center Jordan Eglseder. He averages 12 points and 7.3 rebounds per game, which is bad news for UNLV fans. UNLV, which lacks a true inside presence, has struggled all year in defending the post.

… If you sleep in an Anderson Hunt jersey every March:

• UNLV sophomore forward Chace Stanback was part of the UCLA team that reached the 2008 Final Four. He averaged 1.8 points and 5.8 minutes and played in 25 of 39 games for the Bruins.

• UNLV is 5-5 this year against teams in the tournament: 2-1 against BYU, splitting against New Mexico and going 1-2 against San Diego State. The Rebels beat Louisville and lost to Kansas State, the No. 2 seed in the West Region.

• UNLV has never played Northern Iowa, but is a combined 5-1 all-time against Iowa and Iowa State. The Rebels erased a 20-plus point deficit against Iowa in the 1987 Elite Eight to reach the Final Four. That team was led by “Fearless” Freddie Banks and Armen “The Hammer” Gilliam.

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