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UNLV’s stuck in bubble purgatory. Again.

UNLV’s stuck as the third wheel in the Mountain West race. And that’s if the Rebels get it together.

Entering this season, the Rebels had the goods to challenge San Diego State and BYU for the conference crown. But a few odd home losses – UC Santa Barbara and Colorado State – have thrust into a spot they shouldn’t be.

On the bubble.

Now UNLV (18-7 overall, 6-5 in MWC) will spend the rest of the month fighting to ensure it doesn’t miss the Big Dance. Even worse, it’s the third straight season that’s happened.

“Don’t give up,” junior guard Oscar Bellfield told Ryan Greene of the Las Vegas Sun. “You’ve got to keep fighting, take it and keep playing.”

UNLV blew a chance to knock off SDSU on Saturday, meaning it lost all four games vs. the Cougars and Aztecs this season and any chance to log another marquee win until the MWC tournament. (That Nov. 20 victory over Wisconsin is looking pretty good, though.)

That leaves five winnable games on the regular-season slate – and the Rebels need all five of ‘em to help their NCAA tourney résumé. They’re in a tough spot, though. Road games at Colorado State and New Mexico won’t boost that résumé, but losses will hurt.

That’s life on the bubble in a mid-major conference. Everything’s important, and nothing’s guaranteed.

“We’ve just got to win, that’s all it is,” Bellfield told the paper. “We’ve got to stay together, keep our composure and just win.”

Want more? I’m also on Twitter @MikeMillerNBC.