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UNLV Rebels Preseason Practice

Wade Vandervort

UNLV Rebels head coach Kevin Kruger leads practice at the Thomas & Mack Center Wednesday, Sept. 28, 2022.

An official schedule reveal for UNLV basketball is probably still a couple months away, but according to coach Kevin Kruger, the behind-the-scenes work is mostly done and the majority of nonconference games are already locked in for 2023-24.

UNLV is still looking to fill some home dates, but it sounds like the rest of the slate has been populated to Kruger’s satisfaction.

“We’ve pretty much got some ‘buy games’ to figure out,” Kruger said. “We’ve got some good home-and-homes, and we’ve got a couple really good neutral-site games set up, so we’re really happy with the schedule. It’s very challenging. I think everyone will be happy.”

One of the marquee contests figures to be a true road game at Dayton, fulfilling a home-and-home agreement that saw the Flyers travel to Las Vegas last season. UNLV will also play a neutral-site game at the Dollar Loan Center in Henderson, according to a report.

Thanksgiving week will see Kruger take his squad across the country to compete in the Sunshine Slam, a multiteam event in Daytona Beach, Fla. Florida State, Richmond and Colorado will also participate, according to reports. UNLV will host Stetson in Las Vegas as part of the Sunshine Slam before heading to Florida for the bracket portion of the event.

UNLV’s schedule figures to come under increased scrutiny this year, as the rebuilt roster appears positioned to make a run at the NCAA Tournament.

Last year’s nonconference strength of schedule was ranked No. 259 by KenPom.com. UNLV faced two power-conference opponents, beating Minnesota in a multiteam event in San Juan Capistrano, Calif., and then topping Washington State at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.

The Scarlet and Gray only played one true road game, however (a lopsided win at San Diego). They also scheduled a non-Division I opponent, throttling Life Pacific, 126-54, at the Thomas & Mack Center.

UNLV opened the season by winning its first 10 games and wrapped nonconference play with an 11-1 record.

Kruger said he believed the 2022-23 schedule was plenty strong enough and said he’s following the same blueprint while putting together this season’s slate.

“We’re taking the same approach,” Kruger said. “We want to create a challenging schedule that has good teams and gives our guys a challenge in different locations. I think we did a good job of it last year.”

When it comes to strength of schedule, Kruger said he and his staff are making a conscious effort to impress the algorithms, with an eye toward selection Sunday and the NCAA Tournament.

“The analytics of our sport are very important, so we take that into account,” he said. “And more than anything, you want to give your guys a chance to win. You want to make sure they’ve got adequate time to prepare and rest, and you want opponents to do well so you can grab the attention of the analytic world, as well as your fan base.”

Kruger receives scheduling input from director of basketball operations DeShawn Henry, as well as recruiting and video coordinator Will Saxon. Last year, logistics limited UNLV to 12 nonconference games; Kruger said UNLV intended to play its full allotment of 13 this season.

Mike Grimala can be reached at 702-948-7844 or [email protected]. Follow Mike on Twitter at twitter.com/mikegrimala.

Article written by #LasVegasSun

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