AP Photo/Chris Carlson
Friday, Dec. 17, 2010 | 6:45 p.m.
UNLV vs. Southern Utah
UNLV Rebels (9-2) vs. Southern Utah Thunderbirds (3-7)
Where: Thomas & Mack Center (Cap. 18,500)
When: 7 p.m.
Coaches: Lon Kruger is 146-64 in his seven seasons at UNLV and 464-297 in 25 overall seasons; Roger Reid is 32-68 in his four seasons at SUU and 184-144 in 12 overall seasons.
Series:UNLV leads 18-7
Last time: UNLV won, 77-69, in Cedar City, Utah, on Dec. 15, 2009.
Line: UNLV by 29
TV/Radio:The Mtn./ESPN Radio 1100 AM/98.9 FM
G Oscar Bellfield (6-2, 185, Jr.) 12.3 ppg, 4.3 apg, 2.8 rpg.
G Tre'Von Willis (6-4, 195, Sr.) 10.9 ppg, 3.1 rpg, 3.0 apg.
G Anthony Marshall (6-3, 200, So.) 8.6 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 2.7 apg
F Chace Stanback (6-8, 210, Jr.) 14.1 ppg, 4.5 rpg.
F Quintrell Thomas (6-8, 245, So.) 5.9 ppg, 3.9 rpg.
Bench: F Brice Massamba (6-10, 240, Jr.) 4.9 ppg, 2.4 rpg; G Justin Hawkins (6-3, 190, So.) 5.3 ppg, 2.7 rpg; F Carlos Lopez (6-11, 215, Fr.) 4.4 ppg, 3.1 rpg; G-F Karam Mashour (6-6, 200, Fr.) 3.8 ppg; G Derrick Jasper (6-6, 215, Sr.) 9.5 ppg, 5.2 rpg, 2.4 apg.
What to watch: Quintrell Thomas got a confidence boost of his own by playing 21 minutes and picking up only two fouls against UCSB. It came on the heels of seeing only five minutes in the loss at Louisville. He was effective on Wednesday night with four points and eight boards. The key, as always, with Thomas is gaining consistency. A strong showing against Southern Utah could be big for UNLV's starting center heading into the major challenge on Tuesday night with Kansas State's hefty front line.
G Jordan Weirick (6-4, 195, So.) 7.0 ppg, 3.0 rpg.
G Ray Jones Jr. (6-3, 175, Jr.) 11.4 ppg, 4.5 apg, 3.6 rpg.
F Ramell Taylor (6-5, 190, Jr.) 8.8 ppg, 3.5 rpg.
F Matt Massey (6-9, 230, Jr.) 8.3 ppg, 3.3 rpg.
C Tyson Koehler (6-8, 250, So.) 5.5 ppg, 3.7 rpg.
Bench: C Matt Hodgson (6-11, 240, So.) 5.2 ppg, 4.6 rpg; F Kyle Davis (6-8, 205, Fr.) 5.1 ppg, 4.2 rpg; G Jake Nielson (6-3, 200, Jr.) 2.1 ppg, 2.2 rpg; G Jackson Stevenett (6-4, 190, So.) 5.0 ppg, 1.5 rpg; G Ryan Brimley (6-4, 190, So.) 7.4 ppg, 1.3 rpg.
What to watch: Southern Utah might be the youngest team UNLV has faced all season. With that said, how will the Thunderbirds handle the Rebels' pressure defense? A veteran UCSB group coughed the ball up 25 times, but still won as UNLV couldn't hit shots consistently. If Southern Utah does the same in the turnover department, it might not be so fortunate on the other end of the floor.
- Cold-shooting UNLV drops second straight, falling to UCSB, 68-62 (12-16-2010)
- Box Score: UC Santa Barbara 68, UNLV 62
- Findlay Prep sophomore guard Nigel Williams-Goss verbally commits to UNLV (12-15-2010)
- Carlino arrives for UNLV visit, wants to be thorough this time around (12-14-2010)
- 2010-11 UNLV Schedule
- All Sun UNLV men's basketball coverage
Southern Utah will come into the Thomas & Mack Center on Saturday night with a 3-7 record, having notched its only wins against Houston Baptist, Cal State Bakersfield and Panhandle State.
Say what you will about the Thunderbirds, but No. 22 UNLV — who will likely lose that national ranking on Monday morning after recent back-to-back defeats — is in no position to overlook anyone.
The second of those letdowns came Wednesday night at home in 68-62 fashion against UC Santa Barbara. The Rebels (9-2) suffered from poor shooting, untimely turnovers and a handful of defensive lapses, and now need to get things going in the right direction again before their biggest game of the non-conference season on Tuesday night against No. 6 Kansas State in Kansas City, Mo.
"It shows that we have a lot to work on, and that's good for our team, healthy for our team," UNLV guard Derrick Jasper said. "We shot horrible in the game. We need to communicate more on the defensive end, help more on the weak side and help our bigs more.
"The energy level was there in some spurts. Some plays, we didn't look as good as on other plays. We were a little sloppy, so we have to clean that up."
While his teammates will get a shot to right some of the wrongs, Jasper is likely going to sit out Saturday's game with a sore right knee.
It's Jasper's left knee that has given him trouble and once required microfracture surgery during the first four years of his college career, but the 6-foot-6 senior is taking some precaution after suffering a minor hyperextension during Wednesday's first half.
He would finish out the contest, ending the night with 12 points and five rebounds in 30 minutes, but was limited during Thursday's practice. During Friday's morning session, he sat out altogether.
It will ultimately be his decision on Saturday as to whether he plays, but expect sophomore guard Anthony Marshall to take Jasper's place in the starting lineup.
Jasper wants to take every precaution in not derailing a season that has been maybe his best as a collegian, as he's averaging 9.5 points, 5.2 rebounds and 2.4 assists per game.
"It's just sore," he said. "We have some good players to fill the void I leave. I'll just get treatment and be all right. It's not that bad."
The opportunity for Marshall could be big as a potential confidence-booster.
After starting the season's first 10 games at shooting guard while senior stalwart Tre'Von Willis rounded back into form off of both arthroscopic knee surgery and a four-game suspension to start the year, the Mojave High product moved back to the bench on Wednesday night.
He played well enough to remain a starter through those 10 outings, but Willis had simply earned the right to reclaim his old role.
Oddly enough, against UCSB, Marshall had his quietest offensive night of the season.
He played 25 minutes, but scored just one point, was 0-for-5 from the floor, 0-for-3 from deep and had no assists with two turnovers. Still, he was active on the glass, grabbing five boards, and strong defensively.
A noticeable difference, though, was in Marshall's emotional presence.
Earlier in the season, he could be counted on as a chatty, vocal force on the floor for the Rebels while helping push early runs along. On Wednesday, though, he was still figuring out how to be that same guy when not fueled by the adrenaline of starting the game in the middle of the action.
Technically, what's tailed off some is Marshall's outside shot, which he spent an impressive amount of time working to improve during both the summer and the fall.
Coach Lon Kruger said that, unlike at the end of last season, the staff is not going to ask Marshall to be more shy with his open looks from deep.
He was just 1-of-23 from long range last season, and currently is 4-of-24 as a sophomore, including going 1-of-14 in the team's last six games despite a visibly improved form and touch.
"It looks a lot better," he said of Marshall's shot. "He'll keep getting some threes up and he'll start making them. He's invested so much time that it'll pay off at some point."
What makes starting in Jasper's place a good spot for Marshall is the fact that he came into his own in a similar role late last season.
Jasper went down for the year with a left knee sprain on Jan. 26 at home against Air Force, and four games later, Marshall was in the starting lineup.
The 6-foot-3 high-flier averaged 6.9 points and 5.5 rebounds during that stretch. He filled the minutes as a mirror image of Jasper, who acts as a 'point forward' type by facilitating within the offense, slashing to the bucket and crashing the glass on both ends.
"I'm able to create for others (in that role), and when I'm on the wing, I'm able to attack more and get into lanes," said Marshall, who's averaging 8.6 points, 4.1 rebounds and 2.7 assists per game this season. "Ultimately, my dream is to play at the next level, and I know that to play at the next level, (the point) is ultimately the position I'll be playing. So right now, I'm trying to take that in stride."
Marshall knows, however, that the starting gig in place of Jasper is not permanent, and he still has some improvements to make on the intangible side to become a more effective sub the rest of the way.
"I just need to be the vocal leader I've been since the beginning of the season," he said. "Last year, we had (Steve Jones) to do that. Now I have to take on that role."