NCAAB UNLV Rebels

NCAA Division: Division I

Conference: Mountain West 

Past Conferences: MWC, WAC, Big West, PCAA, Ind, WCAC

City: Paradise, Nevada

Stadium: Thomas & Mack Center

NCAA Tournaments: 1975, 1976, 1977, 1983, 1984, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1998, 2000, 2007, 2008, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013

 

 

 

Championships:

         National Championships: 1

       Conference Titles: 11

 

Team History

 

The UNLV Runnin’ Rebels men’s basketball team doesn’t have an extensive history in terms of years compared to some of the programs in the Mountain West Conference. However, unlike most of the schools, the Runnin’ Rebels have a lucrative history, while maintaining solid regular season records for the majority of their short history.

 

In addition to their Division II history, UNLV’s transition to Division I has been well-received in just seven years before joining the West Coast Athletic Conference. On top of all things considered, the school made it to the Final Four in the 1977 season; the squad was dubbed the “Hardway Eight” under Jerry Tarkanian’s leadership (they won Regional 3rd Place Game against the Montana Grizzlies.)

 

UNLV would punch its ticket to the NCAA Tournament a few years later as they were invited to the NIT on several occasions. The team’s hot streak would continue, winning another Final Four in the 1987 season as they lost a hard-fought battle against the Indiana Hoosiers.

 

The men’s basketball team was still focused on bringing home a National Championship as the 1990 season approached. Before becoming a part of the Big West Conference, the program spent a few years in the Pacific Coast Athletic Association. With a 35-5 regular season record, the odds were great as the school was ranked as high as number one and finished as the second-best team in the nation.

 

Winning a nail-biter against the Ball State Cardinals in the Sweet 16, the team was clicking on all cylinders. The UNLV team stats showed that no team could hinder their spirits, since they took home the 1990 National Championship in an empathic fashion against the Duke Blue Devils by a 30-point margin. This would be their first and only NCAA Championship.

 

In the following season, the Runnin’ Rebels would reach the Final Four, as Duke got its revenge in a one-possession final affair. After Tarkanian departed from the program, things were essentially never the same; the school then hired head coach Rollie Massimino from the Villanova Wildcats. The discord within the program was evident, and he was let go after just two years as he registered a regular season record of just 15-13 in his final season.

 

Losing After Endless Sucess

As a result of Massimino’s departure, Tim Grgurich, a well-regarded assistant to Tarkanian, replaced him, but his tenure would last just seven games before resigning. The 1994–95 season ended with a 12–16 record, which was the school’s first losing season since moving up to Division I after 34 years of endless success.

 

To make matters worse, the program hired UMass Minutemen assistant, Bill Bayno, who was in charge of managing the depleted roster. The once-prosperous dynasty crumbled in just a few years, with Bayno’s first year ending with a 10-16 record, which also cemented itself as the worst record in the program’s history.

 

Still, Bayno had one mission, since he looked to bring back the program. He recruited future NBA players, which included Shawn Marion, Tyrone Nesby, and Keon Clark, as they made the NCAA Tournament in 1998. Unfortunately, the program’s engineer was let go in the 2000 season, because he violated NCAA rules when recruiting Lamar Odom. The outcome didn’t go as intended and Odom signed the letter of intent with the Rhode Island Rams.

 

UNLV’s following search to bring in the next leader as head coach proved to be a difficult one. They heavily pursued former University of Kentucky and Boston Celtics coach Rick Pitino, but the pursuit was futile because he chose to lead the Louisville Cardinals instead. Before resigning in the middle of the 2004 season, former Saint Louis University coach Charlie Spoonhour replaced Bayno for the 2001–02 season.

 

Still, the program faced a time of uncertainty as it made its transition to the Mountain West Conference with Lon Kruger next in line for the job. During his time with the Atlanta Hawks, Kruger did not find much success. However, the collegiate level was much different, since he had a solid track record during his time at Kansas State, Florida, and Illinois.

 

His first two seasons at the university were just average, but he quickly turned it around with a 30-7 record in the 2006-07 season. The team would make it to the Sweet 16 before FALLING to the Oregon Ducks in a game that went down to the wire. In the following season, the Runnin’ Rebels would be routed in the second round by the Kansas Jayhawks. The 2009 season would feature an NIT invitation, but the Kentucky Wildcats proved to be a formidable opponent in the opening round.

 

In the last two years of Kruger’s tenure, the program would assemble solid regular season records, but would never make it out of the first round.  Lon Kruger announced on April 1, 2011 that he would be leaving UNLV for the University of Oklahoma.

 

Dave Rice Steps Up

Before receiving the job offer at UNLV, Dave Rice was an assistant at BYU but was a member of the 1990 National Championship team. He promised that he would bring back the up-tempo offense, which was a staple before Kruger led the team for some time. The Colorado Buffaloes defeated Rice’s squad in the opening round of the tournament, which was noted as a major upset.

 

Dave Rice brought a highly-touted recruiting class for the 2012–13 season despite losing three starters and two key reserve players from the 2011–12 season. There were four ESPN Top 100 players signed, as well as two transfers from Big East schools, led by Anthony Bennett. 

 

UNLV’s last run in the NCAA Tournament would come in 2013, but the California Golden Bears would steal their thunder in a rematch from the regular season. The Runnin’ Rebels would find themselves in a stretch where they couldn’t find the bottom of the net; they went 11 whole minutes without scoring a basket. Surprisingly, Anthony Bennett would go number one in the 2013 NBA Draft, but couldn’t find much success in the NBA. 

 

The UNLV men’s basketball team hired Chris Beard as its new head coach, following a 30-win season at Arkansas-Little Rock. During the 2015-16 season, Beard led the Trojans to a victory over the Purdue Boilermakers in the NCAA tournament. Beard would never coach the Runnin’ Rebels; just 19 days later, he left UNLV to become head coach at Texas Tech.

 

Marvin Menzies would find some glimpses of success as head coach, but it never amounted to anything special. T.J. Otzelberger would never have the amount of success that was prevalent in his stint with the South Dakota State Jackrabbits. Kevin Kruger is entering his third season with UNLV and has decent NCAAB odds to win the Mountain West Conference.

 

All-Time Records

  • Points Scored

    • Eddie Owens 2,221

    • Sidney Green 2,073

    • Stacey Augmon 2,011

 

  • Rebounds

    • Sidney Green 1,276

    • Lewis Brown 1,019

    • Stacey Augmon 1,005

 

 

 

  • Assists

    • Greg Anthony 838

    • Danny Tarkanian 837

    • Mark Dickel 776

 

 

 

  • Steals 

    • Greg Anthony 275

    • Stacey Augmon 275

    • Wink Adams 213

 

 

 

FAQs

 

  1. What Is the Highest Win Total in Program History?

 

The highest win total in the program’s history was 37 wins to go along with just two losses in the regular season. This was another time in the program’s history when the team would reach the Final Four before losing to the Indiana Hoosiers.

 

  1. Who Is the Winningest Coach in Program History?

 

Jerry Tarkanian is undoubtedly the winningest coach in the program’s history, and had the longest tenure, which lasted 19 years. He compiled a record of 509-105 and brought a National Championship to the school. No other head coach in the program’s history has surpassed the 200-win milestone.

 

  1. Who Is the Greatest Player in Program History?

The UNLV Runnin’ Rebels have brought great players over the years, but Larry Johnson is arguably the program’s greatest player. He was selected by the Charlotte Hornets in the 1991 NBA Draft with the first overall pick and was named to two All-Star selections. He also won the Rookie of the Year Award in the 1991-92 season. Throughout his NBA career, he averaged 16.2 points per game and 7.5 rebounds per game.

Back to top button

Bet like a PRO!

Subscribe now and get Weekly Expert Free Picks