UNLV basketball:

In new role, Massamba provides energy with monster dunk

Sophomore finding ways to provide spark as a reserve

Weber State vs UNLV

Matt Shaw's four 3-pointers in a 16-point performance lead the Rebels to a 72-63 win over Weber State on Thursday night.

UNLV-Weber State Basketball

UNLV forward Darris Santee looks to score against Weber State's Trevor Morris during the game Thursday at the Thomas & Mack Center. UNLV came out on top, 72-63. Launch slideshow »
The Rebel Room

WEBER STATE POSTGAME: A smooth capper to a busy day at UNLV

Ryan Greene and Ray Brewer discuss UNLV's 72-63 victory over Weber State, which may have been the Rebels' overall smoothest showing so far in a 9-1 start to the season. Plus, the guys take a look at the positives which come from the school's Thursday hiring of Jim Livengood as its new athletic director.

UNLV center Brice Massamba's stat line Thursday night doesn’t immediately stand out as impressive.

But what the numbers — four points and two rebounds in six minutes — don’t reveal is a play that provided the Rebels a valuable spark off the bench in their 72-63 victory against visiting Weber State.

Massamba electrified the crowd at the Thomas & Mack Center with a one-handed put-back dunk on an Oscar Bellfield miss, helping the Rebels win their first game back at the facility in 19 days. UNLV beat Louisville, 76-71, on Nov. 28 before clearing out for the National Finals Rodeo.

“It was a nice feeling to get the crowd and my teammates (motivated),” Massamba said. “It helped get us going.”

Chace Stanback followed with a 3-pointer on UNLV’s next possession to give the Rebels a 31-24 lead with 2:38 to play in the first half. Weber State was forced to call a timeout, and Massamba was swarmed with chest bumps and high fives from teammates on his way back to the bench.

The sophomore started UNLV’s initial eight games this year, but was switched to a reserve role following the Rebels’ first loss last Saturday against Kansas State.

He said his instructions from the coaching staff are to bring energy off the bench — something that appeared obvious with his put-back dunk.

Massamba had three rebounds in seven minutes Tuesday at Southern Utah and said he plans to make the most of each opportunity. He realizes everyone on the team has a role, and he’s taken the move to a non-starter with the same enthusiasm he had jumping toward the rim for the rebound and put-back.

“Coach wants me to come in with energy and playing good defense,” said Massamba, who averages five points and 2.3 rebounds per game.

Massamba, who attended Findlay Prep in Henderson, watched parts of the Pilots’ nationally televised game against Northland High of Columbus, Ohio, before UNLV started its pregame routine.

Findlay, the nation’s No. 1-ranked high school team and defending national champion, was defeated, 53-52, snapping a 45-game winning streak. They fell to 77-2 under coach Mike Peck.

Findlay’s Tristan Thompson fouled Northland’s Jared Sullinger with four seconds to play on a hand-check 30 feet from the basket, and Sullinger made both free throws for the winning points.

“I was pulling for those guys," Massamba said. "That looked like a (bad) call."

Ray Brewer can be reached at [email protected] or 990-2662.

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  1. Kruger, now should be the time to experiment with two bigs on the court at once.

  2. finally Massamba is where he belongs... the bench

  3. The naysayers that said Massamba can't get up should see the put back dunk from last night. He was about a foot over the basket and had to use all his reach to grab the ball and slam it home.

    I still like Massamba and think he is a valuable asset to UNLV.

    All those blocks last night were what made the game super fun to watch. That Willis (I think?) block early was better than a dunk.

  4. I think by his senior year, Massamba will be a force to be reckoned with

  5. Dunking the ball is nothing but "monstrous" mediated promotional hype, which should be prohibited since dunking the ball does nothing to promote and advance participant's shooting skills -- easy lay-ins turned into potentially injurious events which occasionally result in no points and/or equipment damage.

    Good coaches put a collar on such shots.

    : {

  6. good coaches put a collar on fun too i bet old timer? i heart dunks and they make me happy.

  7. @ harley

    Dunks, and blocks put a mental hardship on the opposing team like saying" how could we let them get that close to the basket, there must have been a hole in our defense", or "damn, I just rejected...hard!" It's not always about points. It also get the crowd going.

    Sounds like you were the kid with the mother who wrapped you up in foam and packing peanuts and hardly got outside to play with the other kids for fear of injury. Am I close?

    I do believe one of the plays Kruger has in his book is a pass from the top of the perimeter to Jasper for an alley-oop cause I've seen it a few times now. Gets the team pumped.

  8. Dr. Naismith, er, I mean Harley, are you worried they are going to rip down the peach baskets? Give me a break...

  9. Uhhhhh.....go back to playing with your dolls if you can't take the aggression sports requires.

  10. haha what a joke..

    Dunking gets the crowd fired up, and with the crowd fired up, the team plays better and with more intensity.

    We could see in the Hawaii tourney how teams can play w/out much of a crowd there.. sometimes it isn't the funnest basketball to watch

  11. @ Harley

    I agree! All dunking does is destroy peach baskets!

  12. 11-

    Masamba will never be a force to be reckoned with. He has very little hops, slow feet and hands made of bricks. You can not teach good hands and he can not handle passes down low. He does have great energy though, I will give him that. He will always be a bench player during his time at UNLV. With Shaw, Thomas, Lopez and Santee all playing next year his playing time is going to decrease drastically.

    I do like Massamba Mamba though just keeping it real