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No. 22: UNLV Runnin’ Rebels

No. 22: UNLV Runnin' Rebels

2009-10 record: 25-9 (11-5), tied for third in Mountain West
Lost to Northern Iowa in NCAA tournament opener
Coach: Lon Kruger, 137-62, 6 years (455-295 overall)
Last NCAA miss: 2009
2010-11 roster [click here]
2010-11 schedule [click here]

The good: Senior guard Tre’Von Willis, a conference player of the candidate, received a three-game suspension for pleading no contest to a misdemeanor domestic battery charge in Sept. Willis could’ve missed a huge chunk - or all - of the season, but will only miss the Rebels’ two exhibition games and the opener against UC Riverside.

That gives UNLV nearly every key player back from last year’s underrated NCAA tourney team, which is filled with mobile, athletic, versatile players like guards Chace Stanback, transfer Quintrell Thomas and Derrick Jasper.

Among Mountain West schools, only San Diego State has better talent.

The bad: Everyone’s back, but no one can hit an outside shot.

UNLV made just 33 percent of its 3-pointers last season and its top threat, forward Matt Shaw, was suspended for the season failed a drug test. Kendall Wallace and Oscar Bellfield must improve or defense will simply sit back and wait for the Rebs to shoot themselves out of the game.

The unknown: Newcomer Carlos Lopez (6-11) and Brice Massamba (6-10) are the tallest players on the roster, but may struggle to work their way into the rotation. That could spell trouble against bigger opponents, though Kruger’s team rarely blanched at mismatches last season.

A better question might be if UNLV can hold court at home. Losses to Utah, New Mexico and San Diego State (in the MWC tournament) are a rare occurrence in Vegas.

Mike Miller’s also on Twitter @BeyndArcMMiller, usually talkin’ hoops. Click here for more