The Rebels are in the race to reach the Big Dance. We have the skinny on who—and when—to watch.
The most difficult player for opponents to guard, he has the size to play in the paint and the range to stretch defenses to the 3-point line, where he’s shooting 34 percent. On a team full of fast, freaky athletes, Moser stands above the rest. (Sophomore forward, 6-foot-8)
- Runnin' Rebels
- Midseason report card
The team’s leading scorer recently drained 21-of-29 from behind the 3-point line during a four-game stretch, and his deadly shooting has also opened up holes for his teammates. With the game on the line, the Rebels want the ball in his hands. (Senior swingman, 6-foot-8)
In UNLV’s up-tempo system, playing the post can be a thankless job. Play defense, rebound ... and stay out of the way on offense. Lopez is good at all three, but when opponents force the Rebels to slow down, he’s also their best interior option. (Sophomore forward, 6-foot-11)
The first guard off the Rebels’ bench is their best defender. Starters Oscar Bellfield and Anthony Marshall are no slouches, either, but when an opponent starts getting hot, Hawkins is the ice UNLV dumps on him. (Junior guard, 6-foot-3)
This Marquette transfer—who made his Rebels debut on December 19—makes up for a lack of experience with his athletic promise. UNLV is proud of its depth, and playing Smith 15 minutes per game could be the final push that wears opponents down. (Sophomore guard, 6-feet)
February 11 vs. San Diego State, 1 p.m. (NBC Sports Network) At this point both teams should know where they stack up in the Mountain West and how much work they have left to secure an NCAA tourney bid. This also looks like the last real home challenge for the Rebels, who finish with Boise State, Air Force and Wyoming.
February 18 at New Mexico, 10 a.m., (CBS) If you only see one more regular-season game, this should be it. Last year’s game at the Pit—one of the most raucous environments in the country—went to overtime before UNLV prevailed. This matchup could be for first place in the Mountain West.
March 8 Mountain West Tournament begins at the Thomas & Mack Center (The Mtn.) There’s one surefire way to get an NCAA bid—win the conference tournament. Given its record thus far, UNLV probably won’t need to play its way into the Big Dance, but a conference tournament title would go a long way toward securing a good seed.
March 11 Selection Sunday (CBS) Who and where will the Rebels play? Final Four dreams begin in earnest with the unveiling of the 2012 NCAA Tournament bracket. With a top-five seed, UNLV could open the tourney in Albuquerque or Portland. Drop lower, and the Rebels might have far to travel. Rice’s success has built up expectations, but a deep run in his first season starts with a first-weekend victory, something UNLV fans haven’t seen since 2008.