UNLV has won its share of big games under first-year coach Dave Rice, even prompting comparisons to the Runnin’ Rebels teams of the early 1990s.
It has yet to establish that sort of winning identity on the road, however.
The 11th-ranked Rebels take the momentum of an impressive victory into a pair of potentially tough road games this week, starting Tuesday night with a Mountain West Conference matchup against TCU.
UNLV (22-4, 6-2) is coming off a thrilling 65-63 victory over then-No. 13 San Diego State on Saturday, getting team highs of 19 points and nine rebounds from conference player of the week Mike Moser.
“I think we showed we want to be Mountain West champions,” guard Justin Hawkins said.
The Rebels led by 13 points in the second half but had to fend off a comeback by forcing three turnovers in the final minute.
“The bottom line is we never quit playing,” said Rice, whose team is tied with SDSU and New Mexico atop the MWC standings.
UNLV must visit New Mexico on Saturday after taking on TCU. Both the Lobos and the Horned Frogs are 11-2 at home.
The Rebels, coming off their third win over a Top 25 team, are ranked 11th for the second time in three weeks after entering the season not having been that high in the AP poll since 1992-93.
Moser’s fourth conference player of the week honor ties the school record set by Larry Johnson, who accomplished the feat for the 1990-91 team that went undefeated in the regular season and lost in the Final Four.
The Rebels have a long way to go to achieve that type of success, especially given their mediocre 5-4 record in true road games.
UNLV fell 68-66 at Wyoming on Feb. 4 after needing overtime in its previous two road games to beat the conference’s worst teams - Boise State and Air Force. Its other conference road game was a 69-67 loss at San Diego State on Jan. 14.
Things may not get any easier when the Rebels visit the Horned Frogs, who have won six straight at home after a 75-71 victory over Colorado State on Saturday.
Craig Williams scored 20 points off the bench after missing Wednesday’s 68-62 road loss to SMU with an injury.
“This definitely boosts our confidence,” Williams said.
TCU (14-10, 4-4) likely will need plenty of confidence - and a short-term memory - if it hopes to upset UNLV, which crushed the Horned Frogs 101-78 in Las Vegas on Jan. 18.
Kyan Anderson scored a team-high 20 points, but UNLV dominated throughout. Anthony Marshall scored a career-high 27 points for the Rebels, while Chace Stanback had 21 and Moser finished with 16 points and 15 rebounds.
In six games since that matchup, Marshall has averaged 9.3 points on 36.7 percent shooting. Stanback has averaged 6.6 points on 23.9 percent shooting in his last five road games.
TCU can win five straight conference home games for the first time since Jan. 27-March 1, 2001, and coach Jim Christian said his team will be prepared for the Rebels this time around.
“UNLV is ranked (No. 11) in the country for a reason, but we’re capable of beating anyone in the league,” Christian said. “If we share the ball and play with confidence, we can play with anyone. We know that. We just have to go out and do it.”
The Rebels, though, have won six straight meetings, including a 94-79 victory in last season’s trip to Fort Worth behind 24 points from Stanback.