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Sports Then and Now

UNLV Runnin’ Rebels Are For Real

Posted on December 24, 2009 by Richard Marsh
The UNLV Runnin' Rebels are relevant again in college hoops.

The UNLV Runnin' Rebels are relevant again in college hoops.

Not since 20 years ago have the UNLV Mens Basketball Team drawn this much excitement as the decade comes to a screeching halt next Friday. In his sixth years as the coach of the Runnin’Rebels, Lon Kruger and 2009-2010 edition is certainly invoking memories of Greg Anthony, Larry Johnson and Stacy Augman.

Ranked 20th in this week’s ESPN/USA poll the Rebels are in Hawaii this week for the inaugural Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic. Being the only ranked team there is not a guarantee to the championship for the 10-1 Rebels. In the other side of the bracket lies USC and St Marys, both teams that have beat ranked opponents this year.

However,if last nights drubbing of SMU is any indication just how strong and how deep these Rebels are, then it looks like it’s going to be a year where UNLV and perhaps even three other Mountain West teams will be joining them in the big dance in March 2010.

Last night the Rebels used 11 men to roll to a one sided 67-53 win over the Mustangs from SMU. The final score was no indication of the beating that took place on the floor.

The Rebels jumped out to a 42-19 halftime lead and never looked back. They increased the lead to 28 midway through the second have and allowed the SMU Mustangs to get as close as 12 points with about 2 minutes to play.

Coach Kruger, knowing there would be three games in four days didn’t want any of his starters going more than 30 minutes. They didn’t. 26 minutes to Chase Stanback who put up 11 points, Derrick Jasper whose 26 minutes yielded 9 points, and reserve freshman guard Anthony Marshall added 12 points in his 26 minutes.

Here’s how balanced the Rebs were last night. Eleven players entered the game. Everyone of them took at least one shot. Nine of them scored and all of them had at least one rebound.

This was the best team effort in any one game that I have witnessed in the fifteen years I’ve lived in Las Vegas and followed the Runnin’ Rebels. Last years team which went 21-11 and lost to Kentucky in the NIT graduated three Senior starters including their most explosive player in four year starter Wink Adams.

Kruger has been an excellent recruiter from the Junior Colleges since he

UNLV hasn't been a threat since the days of Larry Johnson.

UNLV hasn't been a threat since the days of Larry Johnson.

arrived on the scene 6 years ago and this years crop of Chase Stanback and Derrick Jasper have already filled the void from last years graduates.

Tre’von Willis, the teams emotional leader who’s nursing a bad ankle came off the bench last night and in 25 minutes had 12 points and 4 rebounds while normally reserve freshman guard Anthony Marshall had his best game to date. Not thought of as great shooter, he went 6-9 with two steals, two assists and three rebounds along with his career high 12 points.

Tonight in one semi final the Rebel’s meet host, Hawaii who defeated The College of Charleston 84-71. The winner of tonight’s game will meet the winner of the USC/St. Marys game for the Championship on Friday night. Hawaii is 6-4 but has won it’s last four straight. Two of their losses came at the hands of the other two powerhouses in the Mountain West, BYU and New Mexico. Those two teams and UNLV are the co-favorites in the Mountain West this season.

It should be a fun year as the Rebels try to get back to the NCAA Tournament for the third time in four years.

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