2011-12 Non-Conf. Schedule Announced
July 21, 2011
LAS VEGAS (UNLVRebels.com) - UNLV Athletics has officially announced opponents and dates for the non-conference portion of its 2011-12 men's basketball season schedule.
The Runnin' Rebels will face eight teams (possibility of nine) during the non-conference portion of their schedule that played in the postseason last year, including four (possibility of five) that earned a bid to the NCAA Tournament.
The schedule is highlighted by participation in the Las Vegas Invitational with a scheduled game vs. USC at the Orleans Arena and a possible match-up with potential preseason No. 1 North Carolina (also at Orleans Arena). Other notable games are at Wisconsin, vs. Illinois at the United Center in Chicago, at home against Nevada, Reno, California and UTEP, as well as road games at UC Santa Barbara, at Wichita State (part of the Mountain West-Missouri Valley Challenge) and at Hawaii on New Year's Eve day.
"We were fortunate that the majority of our non-conference schedule was completed before we were hired, particularly the games before Christmas," first-year UNLV head men's basketball coach Dave Rice said. "We have a lot of tough road games, but we have many experienced players returning - we will need to play well on the road. The quality of opponents on our schedule will help our strength of schedule and RPI as we enter Mountain West play."
UNLV is coming off a 24-9 season and its fourth NCAA Tournament appearance in the last five years. The Runnin' Rebels return seven players, including four starters, from last season that averaged 11 minutes or more per game, and the squad returns 76.5 percent of its scoring from last season and 70.9 percent of its rebounding.
With the changes in membership the Mountain West has experienced, the league will only have eight teams in 2011-12, so the Runnin' Rebels will play 14 conference games and 18 out of conference.
"It's unique for us to schedule so many non-conference games, and not playing Mountain West games this season until January 14 made it challenging to find opponents especially from January 1 until the start of conference," Rice said.
UNLV will play just one exhibition game this year - on Tuesday, Nov. 1 against Washburn at the Thomas & Mack Center - before opening the regular season on Friday, Nov. 11 against Grand Canyon. The Runnin' Rebels will continue with their season-opening six-game homestand at the TMC with intrastate-rival Nevada, Reno, on Monday, Nov. 14, Canisius on Thursday, Nov. 17, Morgan State on Sunday, Nov. 20 and Cal Poly on Tuesday, Nov. 22.
The games against Morgan State and Cal Poly are part of the four-game exempt Las Vegas Invitational. The Runnin' Rebels will continue play in the event on Friday, Nov. 25 against USC at the Orleans Arena and then face either North Carolina or South Carolina on Saturday, Nov. 26, also at the Orleans Arena. Those LVI games at the Orleans Arena are not considered UNLV hosted events, which means they will not be ticketed by UNLV. Both USC and North Carolina played in last year's NCAA Tournament, with the Trojans losing to VCU in the first round and the Tar Heels advancing to the Elite Eight.
UNLV will play its first game away from Las Vegas on Wednesday, Nov. 30 at UC Santa Barbara. The Gauchos also played in last season's NCAA Tournament, losing to Florida in the second round. The Runnin' Rebels will remain on the road for a Sunday, Dec. 4 game at Wichita State, which won last year's postseason NIT.
The Runnin' Rebels will then return to Las Vegas to host Cal State San Marcos at the Orleans Arena on Wednesday, Dec. 7, before traveling for a game at Wisconsin on Saturday, Dec. 10. The Badgers advanced to the third round in last year's NCAA Tournament.
UNLV will host UTEP on Wednesday, Dec. 14 at the Thomas & Mack Center, and then travel to Chicago to play Illinois at the United Center on Saturday, Dec. 17. Illinois was the Runnin' Rebels' opponent in the NCAA Tournament last year and the last time UNLV played at the United Center was in the 2007 NCAA Tournament, winning both games to advance to the Sweet 16.
The Runnin' Rebels will return to the Thomas & Mack Center for three straight games: vs. Louisiana-Monroe on Monday, Dec. 19, vs. California on Friday, Dec. 23 and vs. Central Arkansas on Wed., Dec. 28. UNLV will then play at Hawaii on Saturday, Dec. 31, before closing out the non-conference schedule on Thursday, Jan. 5 at Cal State Bakersfield.
All game times, television appearances, along with UNLV's Mountain West schedule will be announced in the future.
UNLV was ranked in the top 25 for multiple weeks last year and closed out the season in the top 25 in the nation in home attendance (No. 23) for the third straight year as well as again being No. 1 on the West Coast.