Last week was a difficult week for our program.
I thought we played well for a majority of the Texas Christian game on Feb. 14 and just didn’t do a good job down the stretch. Any time you give up 19 offensive rebounds, it is difficult to win a game, particularly on the road. I do give a lot of credit to former Valley High School star Hank Thorns, who was terrific in that game.
The atmosphere Saturday at The Pit was good. It was interesting how eerily similar that game was to the one when we played New Mexico on Jan. 21 at the Thomas & Mack Center. Both games were close at halftime, and then the home team made big plays down the stretch and won going away. We won 80-63 at home and lost 65-45 at New Mexico.
Our players are determined to make sure we use those experiences to make us a better team. We are excited about playing three of our final four regular-season games at home, and it is important for us to build on the many great things we have done this season.
It is good to still be ranked, and it shows what the coaches and writers think about our program and our many accomplishments. We are never satisfied, but we know we are making progress and need to continue the positive momentum through the end of the regular season and into the conference tournament.
It is also good to see our league’s strength getting national recognition. It shows the quality of the Mountain West that three teams are ranked in the top 25. When the rankings came out this week, the Mountain West was the only conference in the country in which each team had a winning record.
One of the reasons for our success has been the job of our scout team. Assistant coaches Justin Hutson, Stacey Augmon and Heath Schroyer have done a thorough job with our scouting reports, and a lot of the credit also must go to our scout team. We added Barry Cheaney, Bryan Glenn and Wade Norman to our team before the season, and they have done a wonderful job. We also have scholarship players Khem Birch and Bryce Jones, who have made a huge difference to the quality of our scout team. They are terrific players, and we know they will have wonderful futures as Runnin’ Rebels once they complete their redshirt years.
One of the obvious advantages of taking transfers is that a year from the time you get them, they will play for you and contribute in a big way, as many of our current transfers are doing. Also having transfers on our scout team makes it so much better and prepares the team for opponents. We are excited about Khem and Bryce and the part they will play in future success.
I would like to again thank the fans for their great support of our program. The Thomas & Mack Center has been rocking all year, and our home-court advantage is certainly something that we sell in recruiting.
Go Runnin’ Rebels!
UNLV basketball coach Dave Rice writes a weekly column for Rebels Report.