Friday, Dec. 18, 2009 | 12:17 a.m.
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.
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.