The UNLV Runnin Rebels were among college basketball’s elite last season led by Anthony Bennett, but this season the team has fallen off considerably while recording a record of 20-12. The Rebels have kept games consistently close this season, but have failed to close time and time again. Only winning the Mountain West conference tournament will save the team’s season at this point. Although there is a tough road ahead for UNLV, the team prevailed in its conference tournament opener as the Rebels look to gain momentum to make a shocking run.
UNLV took the first step to earning an automatic tournament bid by edging out the Wyoming Cowboys 71-67 in the Mountain West tournament quarterfinals. Roscoe Smith proved to be the game’s top performer with 18 points and 13 rebounds coming off the bench. Smith’s double-double effort was aided by Bryce Dejean-Jones’ performance as he recorded 22 points, three rebounds, and four assists in the win.
The Rebels look to keep their tournament hopes alive as the team faces the San Diego State Aztecs in the second round of the conference tournament. If UNLV is able to knock off the top seed in the tournament, the Rebels will be only one game away from earning the conference’s automatic bid into the dance.
UNLV must overcome its past struggles against San Diego State to stay alive in the postseason picture, but can the Rebels pull the upset in the team’s biggest game of the season? If UNLV want to defeat the Aztecs, they will need to utilize their strength inside as the team ranks at No. 8 in the country in rebounds at 40.2 a game.
Greg Douglas is a College Basketball writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on twitter @thegpd93 or add him to your Google Network.