T.J. Otzelberger was known after three seasons at South Dakota State as a coach who loves to push pace and shoot lots of 3-pointers.
It was a reputation that played well when hired at UNLV, with a fan base anxious to get back to truly being the Runnin’ Rebels.
UNLV fans, though, wondered what happened to all the running as the Rebels spent most of this season trying to win slow-paced games, finding success by relying primarily on defense and rebounding.
The past two games, however, the Rebels won by pushing the ball down the court and scoring 197 points.
“We’d love to play fast if it’s to our benefit,” Otzelberger said. “What we’ve seen with San Jose and New Mexico with some of their zones, we’ve tried to beat it up the court instead of out-execute it. So it’s been an effective way to attack those two teams.”
Whether that type of attack continues, he said, will be determined on a game-by-game basis.
“All in all, we’d love to get out and run,” Otzelberger said. “We love to play up-tempo. We love that energy in Thomas & Mack, with fans on their feet and dunks and transition 3s.”
Next for the Rebels (11-9, 6-1 Mountain West) will be a road game Wednesday at state rival UNR (11-8, 4-3). UNLV has won three straight games and seven of eight to sit alone in second place in the conference standings.
A victory over the Wolf Pack would give UNLV its best start in league play since the 1998-99 season when the Rebels competed in the Western Athletic Conference. They already are off to their best Mountain West start in 12 years.