LAS VEGAS – A rivalry will be renewed when UNLV plays Duke on Saturday, Dec. 10 in the first college basketball game to be played at the new T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas as part of the fourth-annual MGM Grand Showcase, which benefits Coaches vs. Cancer. The two iconic programs have not played since the programs battled in consecutive Final Fours in the early ‘90s.
The duel between the two teams is one that Runnin’ Rebel fans have waited to see for 25 years. UNLV captured the school’s lone national championship by beating Duke by a national title game-record 30 points in the 1990 Final Four. The following season, the Runnin’ Rebels started the season 34-0 before facing Duke in the national semifinals in Indianapolis. In one of the most monumental upsets in NCAA Tournament history, the Blue Devils knocked off the Rebels 79-77 and then won the first national championship for Coach Mike Krzyzewski two days later.
“Duke basketball is honored for the opportunity to play the first college game at T-Mobile Arena against a storied UNLV program,” said Krzyzewski, head coach of both Duke and the United State National Team. “It will be an exciting event for both programs and their great fans.”
Duke will enter the season as the projected top-ranked team in the nation. The Blue Devils return All-American candidate Grayson Allen and add the nation’s No. 2-ranked recruiting class, which includes Harry Giles, the top incoming freshman in America, and Jayson Tatum, the No. 3-ranked player in the class. New UNLV coach Marvin Menzies has just as many fresh faces on his roster that features nine new players. UNLV will be bolstered by returning sophomore guard Jalen Poyser and junior forward Dwayne Morgan.
“We are excited to be a part of the first college basketball game played at the beautiful new T-Mobile Arena and are happy that our fans will have the chance to be a part of it,” said Menzies. “UNLV has a lot of history with Duke, one of the elite programs in the country. We have the highest level of respect for Coach Krzyzewski and his history of success. It will be quite a challenge, but we are looking forward to it.”
Over the past decade, Las Vegas has become arguably the basketball capital of the world. The city now hosts USA Basketball, NBA Summer League, NBA preseason games, thousands of youth travel teams each summer, postseason tournaments for four college basketball conferences and a season-ending college basketball tournament. The opening of T-Mobile Arena will only enhance the city’s appeal to the basketball world and attract the best in the game to Vegas.
“We are excited to have the opportunity to open T-Mobile Arena to college hoops with a game that all of Las Vegas will want to see,” said Brooks Downing, president of bd Global (www.bdglobalsports.com), the event promoter. “Duke may very well come to Vegas with a No. 1 ranking and I fully expect the Rebel fans to pack the arena for what we expect to be an electric environment on Dec. 10th.”
This year’s game marks the third consecutive year UNLV will play in the Showcase, which benefits Coaches vs. Cancer, an initiative spearheaded by the National Association of Basketball Coaches (www.nabc.com) and the American Cancer Society (www.cancer.org). Last season, the Runnin’ Rebels defeated No. 15 Oregon in a raucous game at MGM Grand Garden Arena.
Tickets will be made available to UNLV season ticket holders at a discounted rate through a private sale. Information for Runnin’ Rebel season ticket holders will be announced in the next week. Tickets will be available to the public starting Saturday, July 30 and can be purchased at the T-Mobile Arena box office, t-mobilearena.com, AXS.com, mgmgrandshowcase.com or by calling 888-9AXS-TIX.
For complete information, visit www.unlvduke.com or follow on Twitter at @NeonHoops.