Unlike five Mountain West teams, UNLV's football season has ended early. Not much of a surprise since they hadn't gone to a bowl game since 2000, but the point is that yet another horrible football season ends just as another great basketball season starts. UNLV began the season with a nail-biter in Vegas, beating Wisconsin 68-65.
Now comes the play of the game. Wisconsin had to call timeout on the first inbounds play due to stifling defense by the Rebels but on the second inbounds play Wisconsin couldn't call timeout. They had to inbound the ball and they did, just to the wrong guy. Justin Hawkins tipped the ball away and was fouled with 6 seconds left to go the line and ice the game. Hawkins made both free throws and Jon Leuer flew down the court and put up a last second three pointer that air balled to end an exciting finish to a great game between great teams.
Here is the post-game recap of the game live from the Thomas & Mack Center done by Versus, who televised the game.
UNLV was 3-0 and ranked in the Top 25 after winning that game. UNLV hoops then went on to demolish its next six opponents, which included Murray State and Virginia Tech, before setting up a matchup at the KFC Yum! Center between the 7-0 No. 24 Louisville Cardinals and the 9-0 No. 20 UNLV Runnin' Rebels. UNLV played great up until about 15:00 left in the first half. UNLV let Louisville go on a 21-6 run from that point and lost the game.
UNLV (9-1) appeared to be in command when a 3-pointer by Bellfield gave the Rebels a 45-36 lead with 16:51 to play. Things slowly unraveled, however, as the Rebels started missing shots and making turnovers. UNLV entered the game shooting 54 percent from the field, but shot just 9 of 21 (42 percent) after the break and turned it over 10 times in the second half.
The Runnin' Rebels definitely felt bad about their loss, especially since they were a few more baskets from putting the game out of reach only to have the game slip through your fingers. No matter, UNLV was still ranked 22nd and had a couple of cupcakes scheduled before the massive matchup with K-State on December 21st. Apparently UNLV got caught looking ahead to K-State and the Runnin' Rebels got upset by UC-Santa Barba.
While UCSB shot 50 percent, the Gauchos limited UNLV to 29 percent shooting. That includes a putrid 6-of-29 from 3-point range, with Tre'Von Willis (1-of-7) struggling the most from beyond the arc while making his first start of the season.
Today the new College Basketball Rankings came out and UNLV dropped out, to nobody's surprise. The good news is that they are still receiving votes and are ranked 35th in the AP Poll and 30th in the Coaches Poll. If they can upset Kansas State, who is ranked 11th in both polls, then UNLV should jump back into the polls. Although beating K-State is no easy task. They were ranked in the Pre-Season Top 5 and were ranked 6th before getting embarassed in Gainesville against Florida. CBSSports.com previews the matchup.
Follow rebelfan1_ via Twitter for News on UNLV.