UNLV's NCAA Tournament run under way in San Jose
San Jose, Calif. (KTNV) -- The UNLV Runnin' Rebels NCAA Tournament run is under way in San Jose.
The Rebels tipped off against the Cal Bears at HP Pavilion at about 4:45 p.m. The start time was pushed back due to the length of the game beforehand.
The two teams were tied at 28 entering half time.
UNLV fans are well-represented at the arena and well-prepared to get loud and show their unwavering support.
"This is all we have. This is what we look forward to. We live and die by the Rebels," said one UNLV fan outside the stadium on Thursday.
"I feel like this team has the potential and the talent to get further, to get possibly a Sweet 16," said another fan, Michael Troiano. "If we just win one, we can enjoy the next day and a half and it will be a blast."
As for the Runnin' Rebels themselves, they've been anxiously awaiting this day.
The team had a short practice and press conference at UNLV on Wednesday, followed by a team dinner at a local Italian restaurant.
Many eyes will be on Findlay Prep graduate and UNLV freshman forward Anthony Bennett, who's expected to go to the NBA next year.
All of the players, along with head coach Dave Rice, acknowledge it will take a team effort in order to beat Cal again.
"We just got to go out there and play a full game, 40 minutes of good basketball," said Anthony Marshall.
"We understand the challenge of playing against a terrific team like Cal, 40 or 50 minutes from their campus," said Coach Rice.
It's been years since the Runnin' Rebels have made it past their first game in the Tournament. If they win Thursday, they'll play the winner of the Syracuse vs. Montana game on Saturday.