Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun
Friday, April 1, 2011 | 9:48 p.m.
- Lon Kruger changes course, accepts head coaching position at Oklahoma
- UNLV players, recruits react to news of Kruger's departure
- Brewer: Kruger leaving for Oklahoma isn't all that bad
- Jerry Tarkanian: Oklahoma's athletic department has deep pockets
- So, who's the odds-on favorite for Kruger's job?
- The coaches who have led the Rebels through the decades
Lon Kruger’s seven-year tenure as UNLV’s basketball coach included several memorable games. Kruger on Friday left to become Oklahoma’s coach.
Here’s a look back at some of the top moments of his tenure. It’s highlighted by the Rebels’ run to the Sweet 16 in 2007 — the year UNLV won its first NCAA Tournament game since 1991.
• March 15, 2004: Lon Kruger becomes the 10th full-time coach in the program’s history.
• Feb 12, 2005: After trailing by 11 points with 59 seconds to play at San Diego State, UNLV rallies for a 93-91 victory in overtime. Not only was the dramatic win the highlight of Kruger’s inaugural season, it was one of the best moments of his seven-year tenure at UNLV. The Rebels finish with a 17-14 record.
• March 10, 2007: Kruger becomes the third coach to lead four separate teams to the NCAA Tournament when the Rebels earn an automatic bid after beating BYU in the Mountain West Conference tournament finals. It’s the first time since 2000 that UNLV is in the tournament. Kruger’s son, Kevin, is the team’s top player, taking advantage of a one-year NCAA rule and transferring in from Arizona State.
• March 16, 2007: UNLV wins its first tournament game since 1991 when they beat Georgia Tech in the first round.
• March 18, 2007: UNLV advances to the Sweet 16 after upsetting Wisconsin. Rebel Fever is officially back in Southern Nevada, and Kruger becomes an icon. It’s easily the highlight on his seven-year tenure.
• March 15, 2008: The Rebels win the league tournament for a second straight year, defeating rival BYU 76-61.
• March 20, 2008: UNLV wins its third NCAA Tournament game in two years, starting hot against Kent State in a 71-58 victory. Two days later, they fall to eventual national champion Kansas, but the program is as healthy as it has been since the Jerry Tarkanian era. UNLV is undefeated at home in Mountain West Conference play in 2007 and 2008.
• Dec. 20, 2008: UNLV blows out Arizona at home, 79-64. It’s arguably as electric as the Thomas & Mack Center has been for a regular season UNLV game in years.
• Dec. 31, 2008: The Rebels beat Louisville on freshman Oscar Bellfield’s running layup in the closing seconds.
• March 2009: The Rebels miss the NCAA tournament in 2009 and lose at Kentucky in the first round of the NIT.
• March 18, 2010: The Rebels are back in the tournament in 2010 but fall in the last seconds to Northern Iowa in their first round. They lost in the championship game of the Mountain West Conference Tournament to San Diego State but earned an at-large bid.
• March 18, 2010: The Rebels are embarrassed in an NCAA Tournament loss to Illinois in what turns out to be Kruger’s last game. They finish Kruger’s final year 24-9, going 0-5 against league powers San Diego State and BYU. Kruger finishes with a 161-71 record.