Twelve years ago, Rick Pitino pulled the plug on his plans to become UNLV’s basketball coach. Of course, he landed in Louisville instead, and the story of how that scenario unfolded is old news.
Pitino revisited a relationship with the Rebels by making them a mainstay on the Cardinals’ schedule. The teams played each year from 2007 to 2010, when Lon Kruger coached UNLV.
But when Kruger left for Oklahoma after the 2010-11 season, the Louisville-UNLV series was put on hold. Two years remain on the contract, with the teams tentatively set to play again in 2014 and 2015. However, the plug might get pulled on that deal, too.
“It’s still up in the air,” Rebels coach Dave Rice said. “There has been some discussion about that series not resuming.”
Rice said the schools’ athletic directors will decide if the series continues. Both sides are facing more complex scheduling issues. Louisville is moving to the expanded Atlantic Coast Conference. UNLV will play an 18-game schedule in the Mountain West, which adds San Jose State and Utah State next season.
The Rebels and Cardinals split four games when Kruger and Pitino went head to head. Louisville won the last meeting 77-69 on its home court in December 2010.
Rice is at the Final Four in Atlanta, where Louisville faces Wichita State in a semifinal today. When he returns Tuesday, Rice will work on finishing UNLV’s nonconference schedule for the 2013-14 season.
Two dates with high-profile opponents are set. The Rebels host Illinois on Nov. 26 at the Thomas & Mack Center and play at Arizona on Dec. 7.
The UNLV-Arizona game marks the beginning of a four-year contract. The teams will rotate home games, with the Wildcats playing in Las Vegas in 2014.
“We still have some holes in the rest of the schedule,” said Rice, whose team will play in the Las Vegas Classic at Orleans Arena before Christmas.
■ NOTES — Rebels guard Anthony Marshall is one of 64 seniors who will audition for NBA scouts at the Portsmouth Invitational in Virginia. The four-day tournament begins Wednesday. … UNLV assistant coach Heath Schroyer turned down an offer this week to join Steve Alford’s staff at UCLA.
Contact reporter Matt Youmans at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-387-2907. Follow him on Twitter: @mattyoumans247.