ESPN.com's Weekly Watch gives UNLV some love

Originally I was going to do this as a FanShot, but there's plenty to pull from this as UNLV continues its hot streak of late.  Andy Katz of ESPN.com runs a weekly watch on Monday looking back at the week that was, including a team and player of the week, as well as additional contenders.

Although Katz named Texas A&M the team of the week, UNLV was one of his contenders:

UNLV: BYU has been the team to beat for weeks in the MWC, but the Runnin' Rebels were the only team to manhandle the Cougars this season. The win places UNLV squarely in the title race. Earlier in the week, a victory at Wyoming was a necessity to continue to stay with BYU and New Mexico.

I think his mention of the Wyoming win is especially important.  Wyoming was no gimme, and even with the win over BYU, it's the lesser wins that are going to prove especially important.  After going 2-1 against the top of the conference, UNLV was tripped up by Utah, wiping away much of the momentum.  Since that Utah loss, the Rebels have won five straight against the best and worst the conference has to offer.

Tre'Von Willis also got some love, as Katz named him his "Player of the Week":

Tre'Von Willis, the Runnin' Rebels' leading scorer (18 ppg), served notice that the race for the Mountain West Conference Player of the Year is not over yet.

While Jimmer Fredette is the overwhelming favorite to earn the honor, Willis was the star of Saturday's game against the Cougars. Fredette scored 21 points but was 2-of-7 on 3s, and the Cougars lost by 14. Willis scored 33 points, making 11 of 20 shots and 4 of 7 3s. It was his second 30-plus-point game of the season. Earlier in the week, he scored 15 in a win at Wyoming.

The Runnin' Rebels have won five straight and seven of eight with the only loss an odd home defeat to erratic Utah. Willis' play pushed the Rebels to 19-4 overall, 7-2 in the MWC, tied with BYU and UNM as the three teams start to separate from the rest of the league, making it clearer that all three should be in the field of 65.

If Jimmer Fredette ends up winning MWC Player of the Year honors, I certainly won't scream bloody murder.  After all, he's been a big part of BYU's success and is clearly an excellent player.  At the same time, I strongly believe Tre'Von Willis is equally important to UNLV's success, if not more so than Fredette.  UNLV has some depth, but it often seems like they go as far as Willis goes.

Whatever the case may be, it should make for an extremely compelling close to the conference season.  UNLV, BYU and New Mexico will be battling it out for the regular season title, and the conference tournament should only be more entertaining.

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