The last time the University of Nevada-Las Vegas played a basketball game here, the Runnin' Rebels hardly looked like themselves, losing to Georgetown a year ago, 82-46.

And Anthony Jones, the former Washington-area high school player of the year at Dunbar, hardly resembled himself, shooting four for 19.

Tonight, UNLV will be back in the area, playing Maryland at an 8 o'clock tipoff at Cole Field House and looking like the UNLV that everybody knows, the one that not only runs well and shoots often but also plays intense, physical defense.

The Runnin' Rebels are 4-1, having lost only to top-ranked North Carolina, and Jones, a senior in his second season playing for UNLV, is averaging 16.2 points.

UNLV poses the second serious test for Maryland this season. A week ago, the Terrapins (4-1) did not fare well against Ohio State, losing, 78-66, and being outrebounded badly. Maryland Coach Charles G. Driesell responded by benching guard Jeff Baxter in favor of 6-foot-6 Speedy Jones.

The Atlantic Coast Conference schedule will get off to an early start tonight, and Virginia should get ample opportunity to see where it stands with its running game in a 9 o'clock contest (WDCA-TV-20) against third-ranked Duke in Durham, N.C.

Virginia's coach, Terry Holland, has decided that his Cavaliers cannot be better than mediocre if they play the control game they used a year ago. The Cavaliers also are undefeated, with a 15-point victory over Houston and an overtime victory over Virginia Commonwealth, but tonight's game will be the Cavaliers' first against a ranked team.

At George Washington's Smith Center, one of college basketball's best comeback stories will be sitting on the Jacksonville bench in the person of Coach Bob Wenzel, who underwent successful surgery a year ago for a brain aneurysm, a life-threatening situation.

He said recently he has no lingering effects from the operation. His Dolphins are 3-0, with all five starters returning from last season.

GW, under new Coach John Kuester, has played hard but struggled through its first five games because of poor perimeter shooting and a lack of size. This may be GW's first Division I game of the season in which it is neither undermatched (as against Coppin State) or overmatched (as against Stanford and Michigan State).

At Syracuse, Navy will play the fourth-ranked Orangemen in tonight's final of the Carrier Classic. The Midshipmen got past Ohio University, 73-62, last night after Syracuse defeated La Salle, 97-72.

Navy, led by 6-11 center David Robinson, lost an opportunity for recognition by losing to St. John's in the first round of the Big Apple NIT two weeks ago.