Here we are again; UNLV in the midst of a pendulum swing that keeps its anxious fans walking on eggshells.

The Runnin’ Rebels quickly put their bitter loss on Senior Night in the back of their minds and played a complete game against Air Force in the Mountain West Conference quarterfinals.

The Falcons gave the Rebels a tough time in both previous meetings, especially the second time around when they destroyed UNLV 72-56 in Colorado Springs, Colo. just one month ago.

But this one was all UNLV.

Led by half-man, half-machine Anthony Bennett and his 23 points on 10-of-14 shooting, the Runnin’ Rebels casted away any doubts of their immaturity in their 72-56 handling of Air Force.

Just when you think Bennett can’t possibly get any better, he does just that. He gets better. And better.

And even better.

Bennett’s 10 field goals tied the record for most in the Mountain West tournament by a freshman. His .714 field goal percentage is a new freshman conference record and he reached the 20-point mark for the 13th time this season.

Not bad for a guy who’s not even legally allowed to buy beer.

The Rebels had their foot on the accelerator from the get-go and held Air Force without a field goal over an eight-minute span during the first half.

UNLV’s defense was led by Khem Birch, a man who hasn’t seen a juicy shot he hasn’t felt like swatting as he finished with three blocks for what seemed to be the millionth time this season.

The Rebels defense was just downright stingy forcing 13 Air Force turnovers in the first half alone.

The Falcons only averaged 12 per game for the entire season.

UNLV’s offense capitalized off the stellar defense by going on a 12-0 run in that eight minute span when Air Force had worse aim than Dick Cheney.

Of course, it didn’t hurt the Rebels that the Falcons’ best player and the conference’s leading scorer Michael Lyons was carried off the floor with a leg injury not even two minutes into the game.

But Lyons or no Lyons, UNLV played a fundamentally sound game as three Rebels scored in double figures.

Senior guard Anthony Marshall once again played 38 minutes and continued to be the workhorse for UNLV.

His 11 points on 60 percent from the field was just one of the many things he did right on Wednesday.

But despite the team’s dominant performance against an underrated and dangerous Air Force squad, UNLV’s Katin Reinhardt had a game he’d like to forget after going just 1-for-10 from the floor.

Not exactly numbers to write home about.

But even with Reinhardt’s horrible shooting performance, UNLV proved that it can be mature when it needs to be.

Like the late, great Chick Hearn used to say: The game’s in the refrigerator. The door’s closed, the lights are out, the butter’s getting hard and the Jell-O is jiggling!

Even if only for one game in this conference tournament, the Rebels put it down in front of the home-town crowd and proved they have what it takes to make a deep run into March.

Let’s run.