The Rebellion won’t be in full force for Rebels’ NCAA opener

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Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun

The UNLV student section, recently rechristened The Rebellion, cheers before the start of the Rebels game against New Mexico Saturday, Jan. 21, 2012 at the Thomas & Mack Center.

UNLV Basketball Student Section

The UNLV student section cheers during their game against Oregon Friday, Nov. 23, 2012 in the Global Sports Classic. Oregon upset the 18th-ranked Rebels 83-79. Launch slideshow »

The Colorado Buffaloes are in luck — the Rebellion, UNLV’s massive student fan section, won’t be showing up in full force at Thursday’s game, Rebellion organizer Alex Salvo said.

Salvo, along with other students in the group, had been planning to charter a bus to Albuquerque, site of UNLV’s opening NCAA Tournament game, but interest fell through.

Fellow organizer Ben Leavitt estimated Wednesday that at least 50 to 60 students he knows were planning to carpool for the nine-hour drive to watch the game. He’s heard that at least 1,000 UNLV fans will be traveling to Albuquerque to cheer on the team.

“There’s (still) going to be a lot of UNLV fans,” Leavitt said. “Smaller groups of people are going out.”

The student group is known for its standout approach to cheering on the Runnin’ Rebels: Hoisting large foam cutouts of famous Vegas celebrities in the stands to distract opposing team players.

Leavitt said he knew of some fans who booked their tickets weeks in advance, in anticipation of UNLV making the tournament field.

“This really wouldn’t be possible without the success of the team, the fans and the Rebel community,” Leavitt said.

Leavitt, who was scheduled to take a Wednesday night flight out of Las Vegas, said he couldn’t bring any cutouts with him. The NCAA wasn’t clear on what students could bring, so the king of the foam signs, a 15-foot-by-9-foot head-and-torso cutout of Rebels sophomore Mike “Mozilla” Moser, complete with movable arms, is staying behind.

Salvo, however, has a full car and will be driving to the game Thursday with a few of the signs. The group hasn’t decided for sure which of its 100 cutouts will make the cut — but they are doing everything they can to make sure they get some signage out for the game.

Their signs include blown-up faces of local celebrities like UNLV alumnus and late-night television host Jimmy Kimmel, Rat Packer and Strip legend Frank Sinatra, boxer and Henderson resident Mike Tyson, former Rebels all-American Larry Johnson, coach Dave Rice and former coach Jerry Tarkanian.

Although no special chants have been arranged for the tournament, Leavitt expects the UNLV fan base in Albuquerque to show vocal support for the Rebels.

“We’re going to be as loud as we can and make it like the Thomas & Mack … give the Rebels a lot of energy to feed off of.”

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