Lots of home cookin' for Rebels

UNLV basketball fans will get plenty of opportunity to watch the defending Mountain West Tournament champs in person next winter. The school released its non-conference schedule on Friday.

Other than short road trips to UC Santa Barbara and Northern Arizona, the Rebels will play the remainder of their 14 non-conference games in Las Vegas including a Dec. 8 contest against Fresno State at the Orleans Arena.

Here is the official release:

LAS VEGAS - Five straight home games to open the season, including contests against Louisville and Nevada, Reno, the continuation of a four-year series with Arizona and the Duel in the Desert highlight the 2007-08 non-conference UNLV men's basketball schedule, most of which was released by the athletics epartment Friday

. The Runnin' Rebels are coming off a Mountain West Conference Tournament Championship, a 30-7 overall record and a NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 appearance - the program's first in 16 years. Additionally, UNLV was 19-1 at home in 2006-07, including ending the season with 17 straight wins at the Thomas & Mack Center, which ties for the 10th-longest active streak in the country. UNLV was ranked 14th in the nation in the final edition of the ESPN/USA Today Coaches' Poll.

The Runnin' Rebels are led by head coach Lon Kruger, who will enter his fourth season at UNLV in 2007-08 after compiling a three-year mark of 64-34.

With one more opponent still to be announced, UNLV is slated to face four teams during non-conference action that played in the postseason this past March, including three squads that appeared in the 2007 NCAA Tournament. In 2007-08, UNLV will face teams from the Big East Conference, the Pac-10 Conference, the Big Ten Conference, the Western Athletic Conference, the Big West Conference, Conference USA and the Big Sky Conference among others.

"Our schedule will be very competitive and we are extremely excited about it," Kruger said. "It is a schedule that will prepare us well for the conference season."

This announcement of nearly all of UNLV's non-conference men's basketball schedule marks an early release of next season's schedule to allow fans time to plan accordingly.

"We wanted to get our non-conference schedule out as early as possible so our fans can mark their calendars and save the dates," Kruger said. "It is a schedule that is attractive for our fans and we need their assistance in keeping our home win streak alive and helping us transition the effects of the crowds from this past season into next season.

"Last year the crowds at our home games evolved into a great home court advantage for us and really impacted the outcome of games, especially late in the season and we need to pick that up right from the beginning this fall."

UNLV will tip things off with an exhibition game against Washburn, a Division II school from Kansas, on Tuesday, Nov. 6. Last season, UNLV hosted Washburn for a regular-season game and defeated the Ichabods 83-55.

The Runnin' Rebels will open the regular season with five straight home games for the second consecutive year beginning on Friday, Nov. 9 against Montana State out of the Big Sky.

Next will be a home game on Tuesday, Nov. 13 against Dixie State. UNLV played the Rebels from St. George, Utah, last season in an exhibition game. UNLV's next game, which will be played on Friday, Nov. 16, is listed as a TBA opponent.

The Runnin' Rebels will then host Louisville out of the Big East on Wednesday, Nov. 21. The Cardinals tied for second in their conference last season and lost in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. Louisville was 24-10 overall last year and 12-4 in conference play and finished the season ranked 20th in the country by the coaches. This will mark the first of two straight seasons that UNLV will face coach Rick Pitino's squad, with the 2008-09 game being played in Louisville, Ky.

UNLV will close out the homestand on Saturday, Nov. 24 against rival Nevada, Reno. UNLV won at UNR last December, handing the Wolf Pack their only home loss of the season. UNR also advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament this past season after winning the WAC's regular-season championship. The Pack finished with a 29-5 overall record and went 14-2 in conference play and finished the season ranked 21st in the country

. UNLV will play its first road game of the season on Tuesday, Nov. 27 at UC Santa Barbara. The Gauchos were the only team to beat UNLV on its home floor at the Thomas & Mack Center last season. UCSB finished the year 18-11 and tied for second in the Big West.

The Runnin' Rebels will then return home to host UTEP out of Conference USA on Saturday, Dec. 1 before heading back out on the road when they play at Northern Arizona in Flagstaff on Wednesday, Dec. 5. UNLV defeated NAU by 40 points last season in a neutral-site game in St. George, Utah. The Lumberjacks finished tied for first during the regular season in the Big Sky and finished the year 18-12 overall.

As the Thomas & Mack Center hosts the National Finals Rodeo, the Runnin' Rebels will drive down the street to host Fresno State at the Orleans Arena here in Las Vegas. The game against the Bulldogs will not be part of the season-ticket package and UNLV Rebel Athletic Fund members will receive first priority to purchase tickets to that game. It will mark the first time UNLV will play in town in another arena since the convention center served as the home of the Runnin' Rebels in the early 1980s. Fresno State played in the NIT last season and finished the year 22-10.

After a 10-day break from playing games to concentrate on final exams, the Runnin' Rebels will be back at the Thomas & Mack to host Arizona on Wednesday, Dec. 7. Coached by Lute Olson, the Wildcats from the Pac-10 finished the season 20-11 and also were invited to the NCAA Tournament. This year will mark the second of a four-year series between UNLV and Arizona and the first visit by the Wildcats to the Thomas & Mack Center since 1990.

The Runnin' Rebels will stay home to take on Tennessee-Martin out of the Ohio Valley Conference on Saturday, Dec. 22 before hosting the Duel in the Desert, which will feature Minnesota out of the Big Ten, Nicholls State from the Southland Conference and Kennesaw State from the Atlantic Sun Conference.

The Duel in the Desert will be a three-day round-robin tournament with two games each day. UNLV will face Kennesaw State on Friday, Dec. 28, Nicholls State on Saturday, Dec. 29 and Minnesota on Sunday, Dec. 30.

This will mark the third straight year that UNLV has faced Minnesota. Last season, UNLV defeated the Golden Gophers at the Thomas & Mack Center. This year will mark the first for new Gopher head coach Tubby Smith.

UNLV's opponent that is currently listed as TBA for Nov. 16 will be announced as soon as the agreement is finalized. The 2007-08 Mountain West Conference men's basketball schedule has not yet been released.

UNLV Men's Basketball 2007-08 Non-Conference Schedule
Day Date Opponent
Tues. Nov. 6 Washburn (exhibition)
Fri. Nov. 9 Montana State
Tues. Nov. 13 Dixie State
Fri. Nov. 16 TBA
Wed. Nov. 21 Louisville
Sat. Nov. 24 Nevada
Tues. Nov. 27 at UC Santa Barbara
. Sat. Dec. 1 UTEP
Wed. Dec. 5 at Northern Arizona
Sat. Dec. 8 vs. Fresno State (at Orleans Arena
Wed. Dec. 19 Arizona
Sat. Dec. 22 Tennessee-Martin
Fri. Dec. 28* Vs. Kennesaw State
Sat. Dec. 29* Vs. Nicholls State
Sun. Dec. 30* Vs. Minnesota
* Duel in the Desert

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