REBELS BASKETBALL:

Some important dates for the remainder of the UNLV season

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Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun

UNLV forward Quintrell Thomas slaps a rebound away from New Mexico’s Phillip McDonald (L) and Drew Gordon during their Mountain West Conference game at The Pit in Albuquerque on Feb. 23, 2011. UNLV won, 77-74, in overtime.

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The Rebel Room

Rebel Room — Midseason report

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Las Vegas Sun reporter Taylor Bern and Ray Brewer talk about the UNLV basketball team at the halfway point of their season. At 16-2 overall, the No. 12 ranked Rebels have exceeded expectations. But, can they keep it going?

Rebel fans, get out your calendars.

If you thought the first half of the UNLV basketball season was memorable, wait until the calender slowly starts turning into March. There are plenty of marquee events you don’t want to miss.

Here are some important dates for the remainder of the UNLV basketball season:

Feb. 11 — Home game vs. San Diego State, 1 p.m., NBC Sports Network : The Rebels open Mountain West Conference play this weekend on the road against the Aztecs, and the return trip falls right in the middle of conference season. At this point both teams will have a good understanding of where they stack up in the league and how much work they have left to do in order to secure an NCAA Tournament bid. This is also looks like the last real challenge at home for the Rebels, as they finish with Boise State (Feb. 22), Air Force (Feb. 25) and Wyoming (March 3).

Feb. 18 — Road game at New Mexico, 10 a.m., CBS : If you only see one game for the rest of the regular season, make it this one. Last year’s game at The Pit — one of the most raucous environments in the country — went to overtime, with Rebels center Quintrell Thomas notching 13 rebounds and 19 points, including the go-ahead basket in a 77-74 victory. This year, center Drew Gordon, who’s averaging a double-double, and the Lobos are going to be looking for revenge. These teams were picked to finish first and second in the conference during the preseason and the stakes for this game will likely be at least a share of first place. Plus, the game is on national television — a rarity that fans will surely cherish.

March 8 — Opening day of the Mountain West Tournament at the Thomas & Mack Center, The Mtn : No matter what a team does or doesn’t do in the regular season, there’s one surefire way to get an NCAA Tournament bid: win the conference tournament. With its stellar non-conference record, UNLV probably won’t need to play its way into the Big Dance. But a conference tournament title can only increase the Rebels’ seeding, and with home-court advantage they have to be the favorites to take the trophy. The tournament stretches over three days, with the championship game slated for Saturday, March 10 at 4 p.m. on NBC Sports Network. Winning the tournament would be a great last impression just one day before …

March 11 — Selection Sunday, CBS : Who and where will the Rebels play? How many teams will the Mountain West get into the tournament? Who is this year’s Cinderella? Final Four dreams begin in earnest with the unveiling of the 2012 NCAA Tournament bracket, making this day an unofficial holiday for fans and teams alike. With a top-five seed, UNLV has a good chance of opening its postseason at The Pit or in Portland, Ore. If the Rebels drop lower than that, they may have to travel much farther east. Coach Dave Rice’s early success has built up a lot of expectations, but a deep run in his first season has to start with a first-weekend victory, something UNLV hasn’t done since 2008.

Taylor Bern can be reached at 948-7844 or [email protected]. Follow Taylor on Twitter at twitter.com/taylorbern.

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  1. Nice to have some national coverage going on this season and being able to watch the big games for a change.

    If UNLV goes to Portland, I'm driving down for the game for sure. (Seattle). I really hope they don't get Omaha or Pittsburgh or something along those lines.

  2. This may sound funny, but Wyoming is quietly putting together a nice season. I like what Shyatt is doing with that club. It would be a mistake to take them lightly.