The UNLV men's basketball team is ranked No. 18 in the Associated Press' preseason Top 25, which was released on Friday. Last week, the coaches' preseason poll was announced and has the Runnin' Rebels ranked No. 19.
The AP preseason ranking marks the first time the Runnin' Rebels are in that preseason Top 25 since they were No. 22 to begin the 1992-93 season, a span of two decades. In addition, UNLV's ranking this year is its highest in the preseason poll since it began the 1990-91 season as the nation's top-ranked team in both polls.
Fellow Mountain West-member San Diego State is also ranked in this year's AP preseason poll at No. 20 (also No. 20 in the coaches'), while other conference teams New Mexico and Colorado State are receiving votes in both polls.
UNLV will host Dixie State on Wednesday, Nov. 7, at 7 p.m. at the Thomas & Mack Center in an exhibition game before opening the regular season on Monday, Nov. 12, at 7 p.m. against Northern Arizona, also at the Thomas & Mack Center.
The Runnin' Rebels went 26-9 in head coach Dave Rice's first year at the helm of the program. The 26 wins during the 2011-12 campaign were the most victories in a season by a first-year head coach in UNLV men's basketball history.
UNLV played in its third straight NCAA Tournament and defeated three top-25 teams last year, including a win over then-No. 1 North Carolina, marking the program's first victory over the nation's top-ranked team in 22 years and the first time a Mountain West school has ever defeated the No. 1 team in both polls.
The Runnin' Rebels were ranked for 13 straight weeks (14 overall), climbing as high as No. 11 in the country last season. UNLV was 17-1 at the Thomas & Mack Center last year, which included a perfect 16-0 mark during the regular season, its first undefeated home regular season in 20 years.
The team was second in the nation in assists per game last year (17.6) and also second in the country in percentage of field goals assisted at 65.4 percent.
The Runnin' Rebels return six letterwinners, including starters Mike Moser and Anthony Marshall. Moser, who is entering his junior season, was honorable mention Associated Press All-America and a unanimous First-Team All-Mountain West selection as a sophomore. He was recently named to the 2012-13 Preseason All-MW Team. Marshall, who is entering his senior campaign, was named to the All-MW Second Team last year. Both Moser and Marshall were selected to the league's all-defensive squad last year.
Also returning are seniors Justin Hawkins and Quintrell Thomas, along with junior Carlos Lopez-Sosa. The Runnin' Rebels have welcomed their six new scholarship players (Anthony Bennett, Daquan Cook, Savon Goodman, Demetris Morant, Katin Reinhardt and Roscoe Smith) to the roster for the 2012-13 season, plus Bryce Dejean-Jones, who redshirted in 2011-12 after transferring from USC, and Khem Birch, who sat out the Spring 2012 semester after transferring from Pittsburgh. Birch must also sit out fall 2012 before becoming eligible to play in games in December.
Dejean-Jones was named the MW's Preseason Co-Newcomer of the Year this season, while Bennett was selected as the Preseason Freshman of the Year.