LAS VEGAS (UNLVRebels.com) – Thirty years ago, the 1986-87 UNLV men’s basketball team made the school’s second NCAA Final Four appearance. This Saturday, that team will be welcomed back to campus and honored during halftime of the Runnin’ Rebel game vs. Nevada, Reno at the Thomas & Mack Center. Tipoff is scheduled for 3 p.m.
The 1986-87 edition of Runnin’ Rebel basketball was a special one as it became the first UNLV team to end the regular season as the nation’s top-ranked team.
Led by Freddie Banks, Jarvis Basnight, the late Armon Gilliam, Gerald Paddio and Mark Wade, the team coached by the late Jerry Tarkanian ran through the Pacific Coast Athletic Association with a perfect record of 18-0. The team’s only regular-season loss came at then-No. 16 Oklahoma, 89-88.
UNLV entered the NCAA Tournament that year as the top seed in the West Region, breezing through the first three rounds. The squad received a big scare in the regional final when they were forced to overcome an 18-point deficit against Iowa. The 84-81 triumph earned UNLV a spot in the Final Four at the Superdome in New Orleans.
Banks shined in the semifinal matchup with Indiana, connecting on a tournament-record 10 3-pointers, but it wasn’t enough as the Runnin’ Rebels fell to the eventual national champions, 97-93. The loss ended UNLV’s season with a record of 37-2. The team was inducted into the UNLV Athletics Hall of Fame in 1998.
Confirmed attendees from the 1986-87 Runnin’ Rebel team for this Saturday include Banks, Basnight, Stacey Cvijanovich, Gary Graham, Eldridge Hudson, Paddio, Leon Symanski, Wade, David Willard and Lawrence West.