There weren’t many upsets pulled off by the Rebels in their glory years—after all, they were usually favored to beat their opponents. But in the wake of UNLV’s defeat of top-ranked North Carolina last weekend, here are the top seven upsets in the history of the program:
1. UNLV 121, San Francisco 95
March 12, 1977
The Dons, led by 7-foot All-American center Bill Cartwright, entered this NCAA tournament first-round matchup in Tucson, Ariz., as the No. 2 team in the nation with a 29-1 record, but they were totally outplayed by the Rebels, who ended up reaching the Final Four. Sophomore guard Reggie Theus came off the bench to tally a team-high 27 points, eight rebounds and five assists in 23 minutes as UNLV raced out to a 63-44 halftime lead. The Rebels, who led by as many as 31 points in the second half, shot 55 percent and forced San Francisco into 32 turnovers, 17 coming on steals. Eddie Owens scored 22 points and Glen Gondrezick added 21 for UNLV, which tied the NCAA tournament record for points in a game, while center Larry Moffett helped limit Cartwright to 15 points and eight rebounds.
2. UNLV 90, North Carolina 80
Nov. 26, 2011
Just seven games into the Dave Rice era, the Rebels made the rest of the nation take notice with a decisive victory over the Tar Heels at the Orleans Arena. Chace Stanback led the way with a career-high 28 points and 10 rebounds, while Mike Moser added 16 points and 18 boards, and Oscar Bellfield had 16 points and nine assists.
3. UNLV 68, Arizona 67
March 23, 1989
Anderson Hunt’s 3-pointer over Kenny Lofton with two seconds left lifted the fourth-seeded Rebels over the top-seeded Wildcats in the third round of the NCAA Tournament in Denver. The victory sent UNLV to the Elite Eight while also ending the season for Arizona, which was led by All-American Sean Elliott.
4. UNLV 54, Utah 51
March 5, 1998
The Rebels entered the Western Athletic Conference tournament as the No. 5 seed, but this quarterfinal win over the top-seeded Utes at the Thomas & Mack Center catapulted UNLV to an improbable tournament championship and NCAA berth. Tyrone Nesby had 22 points to lead the charge against Utah, which went on to play Kentucky in the national championship game later that month.
5. UNLV 74, Wisconsin 68
March 18, 2007
Kevin Kruger drained three straight 3-pointers late in the second half and Wendell White scored 22 points to lead the seventh-seeded Rebels past the second-seeded Badgers in the second round of the NCAA tournament in Chicago. The victory sent UNLV to its first Sweet 16 since 1991.
6. UNLV 56, Louisville 55 Dec. 31, 2008
Playing on the road without leading scorer Wink Adams, the Rebels ended the year with a bang when freshman Oscar Bellfield hit a runner in the lane with 16.8 seconds left to shock the Cardinals, who went on to earn a No. 1 seed in the 2009 NCAA tournament.
7. UNLV 66, Michigan 64
Dec. 28, 1995
After dropping five of their first six games under new coach Bill Bayno, the Rebels edged the 18th-ranked Wolverines at the Thomas & Mack Center in the UNLV Holiday Classic. The Rebels finished the season 10-16.