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July 21, 2019

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Eddie Owens: Men’s Basketball (1973-77)

Eddie Owens: Men's Basketball

Eddie Owens fades back for a shot with the Runnin' Rebels. Launch slideshow »

Nobody in UNLV history scored more points than Eddie Owens. He could put up points every night out, and he never averaged less than 10 points per game in any of his four seasons.

With 2,221 career points, Owens made his presence felt from when he first arrived on campus. He ended up leading UNLV to the school’s first Final Four in 1977.

In 1973, Owens left Des Moines, Iowa, and came to Vegas when Elvis was still a regular performer and UNLV was a relatively unknown entity, without any basketball tradition. He was part of Jerry Tarkanian’s first recruiting class, along with other stars like Glen Gondrezick, Ricky Sobers and Jackie Robinson. He became part of a group who would elevate UNLV hoops to a level of prominence.

In the days before ESPN and around-the-clock sports coverage, few people around the country knew about the up-and-coming Runnin’ Rebels.

Then came the 1977 team, better known as the “Hardway Eight.”

The fast-paced team could light up the scoreboard better than any team in the country, and probably than any team to ever play the game. Owens was a big reason for that, leading the team with 21.8 points per game.

The team went 29-3, averaged 107 points per game, and scored more than 100 points in 23 games, including 12 straight. All of that came without the three-point line and shot clock.

After the ’77 team put the Rebels on the basketball map, UNLV became a national competitor for the next 15-years, cementing the legacy of the Hardway Eight’s achievement.

Owens went on to get drafted in the second round of the NBA Draft in 1977, and played one year in the NBA.

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