January 21, 2018 Currently: 43° | Complete forecast


Notebook: Massamba continues to come up big for Rebels

Sophomore big man makes good in second consecutive start

Air Force vs UNLV

UNLV managed to overcome both a sluggish offense and a Derrick Jasper knee injury in the first half to beat Air Force 60-50 Tuesday night.

UNLV-Air Force Basketball

Brice Massamba lays it in for two of his six first half point as UNLV takes on Air Force at the Thomas & Mack Tuesday. Launch slideshow »

Reader poll

With Derrick Jasper out for roughly five weeks, who do you want to see get more minutes on the floor?

View results

The Rebel Room

AIR FORCE POSTGAME: Jasper goes down, Kendall rises up

Ryan Greene and Ray Brewer discuss UNLV's 60-50 triumph over Air Force on Tuesday night at the Mack. Kendall Wallace helped get the Rebels going in the second half, while Derrick Jasper hurting his left knee was the hot topic of the night. The guys take a look at who could emerge if the UNLV junior misses any extended period of time.

The more Brice Massamba plays like he did for UNLV in Tuesday's 60-50 home victory over Air Force, the more minutes he'll command on the floor.

Massamba scored six points in 16 minutes on Saturday at TCU, starting for the first time over junior Matt Shaw since Dec. 12.

On Tuesday, he went for 22 minutes, scoring eight points on 4-of-4 shooting, also grabbing four rebounds in the process.

Massamba was key early on as the Rebels were sluggish offensively, struggling to adjust the slowed-down pace enforced by the Falcons.

He scored UNLV's first six points of the game. The first two buckets came off of sweet inside dishes from Derrick Jasper and Oscar Bellfield. His third, however, was the byproduct of a nice move with his back to the basket after taking an entry feed from Jasper on the right block. It was an example of him making the best of his assertiveness of late on the offensive end, in which he's made a habit of setting up on the block and calling for the ball.

Meanwhile, backups Shaw and Darris Santee, each played nine minutes, combining for six points and four rebounds on 3-of-3 shooting.

In UNLV's last two games, the trio is a combined 16-of-17 from the floor.

Inside the numbers

A look at some key numbers from Tuesday's contest ...

• Turnover issues began to bother UNLV sophomore guard Oscar Bellfield in two road games last week, as he combined for 13 assists and eight turnovers in the two victories. On Tuesday, he had a career-high 10 assists — besting his previous career-high of nine set on Jan. 6 at BYU — and had no turnovers. Through 21 games this season, he has 102 assists after totaling 108 in 32 games as a freshman. In conference play this season, he has 48 assists to 15 turnovers, good for a better than 3-to-1 ratio.

• After struggling to find his offensive footing earlier this year, Chace Stanback's 12 points on Tuesday made it six consecutive games in which he's scored in double figures. Meanwhile, Tre'Von Willis's six-game 20-plus point streak came to an end, as he notched 13.

• UNLV's eight team fouls were by far a season low. The previous low was 15, which was achieved against both Weber State on Dec. 17 and SMU on Dec. 22.

• UNLV won the rebounding battle, 28-24, making it four straight games in which the Rebels have out-rebounded their opponents.

Promotion success?

UNLV advertised a "black-out" for Tuesday's game in an effort to fill the stands at the Thomas & Mack Center, encouraging fans to wear black and giving out black UNLV T-shirts to the first 4,000 fans in attendance.

Lon Kruger even posted on his Twitter feed on Monday night a limited-time $5 ticket special for those who caught the tweet in time.

It paid off, as Tuesday's announced attendance went in the books as 14,175.

What's on tap?

UNLV is off for eight days before taking on Wyoming (8-11 overall, 1-4 Mountain West) next Wednesday night in Laramie, Wyo.

After atoning for two unsightly road losses from last season in the past week, the Rebels will try to avenge a third from the 2008-09 campaign on that trip. Last season, UNLV was tripped up by the Cowboys, 77-68, during their late stumble in Mountain West play.

While UNLV is off until then, Wyoming first takes on Utah at home on Wednesday night, then travels to face Air Force on Saturday afternoon.

Wyoming's Wednesday tilt will be far from the league headliner on Wednesday night, as No. 12 BYU (20-1, 5-0) travels to Albuquerque to face No. 23 New Mexico (18-13, 4-2) in a key battle for positioning atop the league standings.

BYU is the conference's lone undefeated in MWC play, while New Mexico enters the night a half-game behind UNLV, which improved to 5-2 in the league with Tuesday's win.

The final word

Massamba on the team drawing inspiration for the second half from Derrick Jasper, who went down late in the first half with a left knee injury: "We just told each other we had to play for Derrick, because we knew he wanted to be on the court."

Join the Discussion:

Check this out for a full explanation of our conversion to the LiveFyre commenting system and instructions on how to sign up for an account.

Full comments policy

Previous Discussion: 4 comments so far…

Comments are moderated by Las Vegas Sun editors. Our goal is not to limit the discussion, but rather to elevate it. Comments should be relevant and contain no abusive language. Comments that are off-topic, vulgar, profane or include personal attacks will be removed. Full comments policy.

  1. Massamba played superbly, and I saw much improvement in his foot work. Our bigs do a great job and shoot those really high percentage shots under the basket. I just wish we had more of that.

  2. Didnt Massamba start over Shaw against TCU?

  3. Never mind need to read a little closer. Sorry Ryan.

  4. I hope Jasper is okay and ready to play by the time of the next game. If he is not, his rebounding will be missed as much as anything else he did. He was going to the ball really well against AF. So, if he is out, it will be interesting to see if we will see any rotations with two of our three bigs on the court at the same time.