REBELS QUICK HITS:

Basketball writer says UNLV biggest disappointment of the season

Andy Katz thought Rebels should challenge for Mountain West title

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Jeremy Rincon / Ballislife

UNLV lost to UNR 76-72 at the Lawlor Events Center in Reno on Saturday, March 8, 2014.

The frustration boiling over the UNLV basketball team’s mediocre 19-12 regular season extends beyond Southern Nevada.

Veteran college basketball reporter Andy Katz labeled the Rebels as his “biggest disappointment” in ESPN.com’s regular season-in-review piece.

“The Runnin’ Rebels are oozing with talent and yet had befuddling losses, mostly in conference,” Katz wrote. “UNLV could never string together a streak to have them believable as a real contender to San Diego State and New Mexico.”

Katz brings out an undeniable reality already familiar to everyone in town: UNLV underachieved this season. Three former McDonald’s All Americans alone should serve as enough talent to not lose eight conference games in what was a down year for the Mountain West.

But declaring the Rebels the biggest disappointment sounds a little drastic. That’s especially true when considering the case of Kentucky, which went 22-9 despite preseason declarations that the Wildcats could ride the best recruiting class in the history of basketball to an undefeated season.

The other four ESPN.com panelists picked Kentucky for the distinction Katz gave to UNLV. But Kentucky is still NCAA Tournament-bound and could switch its fortunes, more than can likely be said for UNLV.

“The Rebels can redeem themselves with a Mountain West Conference tournament title on their home court,” Katz said.

UNLV, seeded fourth in the tournament, opens its postseason at 2:30 p.m. Thursday against No. 5 seed Wyoming at the Thomas & Mack Center.

Case Keefer can be reached at 948-2790 or [email protected]. Follow Case on Twitter at twitter.com/casekeefer.

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