Ron Jenkins / AP
Monday, Jan. 25, 2010 | 10:34 a.m.
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Tre'Von Willis continued to burn up the nets with two huge showings last week in road victories over Colorado State and TCU. Now the accolades are beginning to roll in.
The junior guard on Monday was the first UNLV player this season to earn Mountain West Conference Player of the Week honors.
In the two wins for UNLV (16-4 overall, 4-2 MWC), Willis combined to score 51 points on 15-of-25 shooting. In conference play, he leads the league in scoring, averaging 24.2 points per game. The next closest in that category is BYU's Jimmer Fredette, who is averaging 16 points over five games.
The highlight of the week for Willis came in scoring a career-high 30 points in Saturday's 79-70 triumph over TCU. He became the first Rebel to score 30 points in a game in exactly two years, as Wink Adams last did it with 33 points against Wyoming on Jan. 23, 2008.
After the game, UNLV coach Lon Kruger praised Willis for his pace, citing continued maturity on the floor as being largely responsible for his recent results. Kruger poured on more praise towards Willis on Monday morning via Twitter, discussing the maturation in his game.
"Tre's play on Saturday at TCU was probably the best all-around game a player has had for us since we've been at UNLV," Kruger said on Twitter, as Willis also recorded six rebounds and four assists in the win.
TCU coach Jim Christian didn't hesitate to call Willis the league's best player.
"The thing I love about him from watching all the games is that he plays the game simply, and I mean that as a compliment," Christian said. "He understands how to catch the ball, where to catch the ball, what to do with it. He's such a hard matchup because he's got great size. He can post, he can shoot threes, he can drive the ball, he's hard to foul.
"To this point, with what I've seen, he's the best player in the league."
The Rebels host Air Force (8-10, 0-5) at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday night at the Thomas & Mack Center. Then, they will have an eight-day layoff before traveling to face Wyoming next Wednesday.
Rebels garner a handful of votes in each poll
After receiving no votes in the Associated Press top 25 poll a week ago, a pair of UNLV victories this week got Kruger's club six votes, landing them as the 14th team in the 'others receiving votes' portion of the poll.
UNLV also received six votes in the ESPN/USA Today coaches poll.
Kentucky is the new unanimous No. 1 team in both polls, after previous No. 1 Texas lost twice last week — on the road to both Kansas State and Connecticut. Kentucky, at 19-0, is the only remaining undefeated team in Division I.
Elsewhere in the Mountain West, BYU became the first team in the nation to reach 20 wins with a victory Saturday night at San Diego State. At 20-1 on the season and 5-0 in the league, the Cougars are ranked No. 12 in the Associated Press poll and No. 10 in the coaches poll.