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UNLV basketball:

Moser’s injury creates uncertain future for both he and the Rebels

No. 21 UNLV will rely even more on sophomores Bryce Dejean-Jones and Khem Birch, who’s eligible next week, in Moser’s absence


Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun

UNLV forward Mike Moser hugs Demetris Morant as they they pull ahead of Cal during the second half of their game Sunday, Dec. 9, 2012 at Haas Pavilion in Berkeley, Calif. UNLV won 76-75.

UNLV vs. Cal 2012

Cal guard Justin Cobbs tries to grab a loose ball from UNLV guard Anthony Marshall during the first half of their game Sunday, Dec. 9, 2012 at Haas Pavilion in Berkeley, Calif. UNLV won 76-75. Launch slideshow »

BERKELEY, Calif. — In a split second, Mike Moser's week went from bad to excruciating, and no one can say for certain when things will get better.

In the first half of UNLV’s 76-75 victory at Cal, Moser committed a turnover on the Rebels’ offensive end. A loose ball ensued and several players went diving after it. When Moser went to the ground he put his right hand on the court and a Cal player fell on the planted arm, bending Moser’s arm inward and dislocating his elbow.

“Just unlucky,” said UNLV coach Dave Rice. Moser declined to comment.

The play continued at the other end of the floor but Moser stayed where he was. UNLV trainer Dave Tomchek and a Cal trainer eventually helped Moser off the court, being careful to support his right arm. People watching the game on ESPNU immediately starting tweeting about the graphic and gross nature of the injury.

“It’s not good,” Rice said. “Specifically what that means I don’t know, but I would suspect we’ll be playing without him for some time.”

Rice said multiple times that the team is not sure exactly what “some time” means yet. After the game Moser went to the Cal team doctor for an X-Ray and the results were negative, showing that he didn’t fracture the elbow. That could mean no surgery, which may put his timetable at something between three to six weeks.

If it turns out Moser only misses three weeks and then returns to his normal self — he was averaging about 12 points and nine rebounds per game — No. 21 UNLV (7-1) would consider itself very lucky. Reality could be much more grim, meaning more than a month.

UNLV has been treating Moser, a redshirt junior, as a senior this year. He’s pictured in the media guide with seniors Anthony Marshall, Justin Hawkins and Quintrell Thomas and the coaching staff has been recruiting as if he’s gone after this year. Moser nearly left for the NBA last year before deciding to come back another year. After this Rice didn’t rule out the possibility that Moser could return for his real senior season.

“We’ll always do what’s best for Mike,” Rice said. “The first thing is to get the prognosis from the doctor and figure out how long the recovery time is.

“… I feel so bad because he came back to school to help his team.”

In Moser’s absence, however long that is, UNLV will rely even more on a guy who finally had a breakout scoring game for the Rebels: sophomore Bryce Dejean-Jones. The USC transfer scored 22 points on 7-of-11 shooting against some of his old friends, and although he had a team-high four turnovers it was still a positive step.

“I looked to take better shots than I was before, looked to be more aggressive and things just worked out,” Dejean-Jones said.

Dejean-Jones and Moser were likely about to be playing a lot of minutes at the same position because of the other guy who will help the Rebels survive sans Moser: sophomore Khem Birch. Birch’s first game for UNLV should be next Monday, Dec. 17 at UTEP. His entrance into the lineup at center figured to move Anthony Bennett more to power forward and Moser more to small forward, where Dejean-Jones and Savon Goodman play. Without Moser taking those minutes and with Goodman getting inconsistent court time, the challenge is on Dejean-Jones to consistently have games like this one. Whether he can do that remains to be seen.

As for Moser, his week started with a homecoming game at Portland ruined by a hip injury. He had to watch from the bench while UNLV struggled against a zone defense without him in the high post. Even though it was disappointing to miss that game, Moser had a quick recovery to look forward to. Right now he doesn’t even have that.

“It’s never good losing a teammate,” Dejean-Jones said. “I wish him the best.”

Taylor Bern can be reached at 948-7844 or [email protected]. Follow Taylor on Twitter at

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  1. I hate to be pessimist here...BUT....Moser is likely out for the season. First off, when you dislocate the elbow, it is very easily re injured. Second, its his shooting arm. Being hemmed up for weeks, will make shooting a basketball with any accuracy almost non existent. And not the kind of injury you want to play throuhg. Its heartbreaking and devestating. Freak accident.

  2. We love ya, Mike. You're a tremendous person and athlete and the community is here to support you!

  3. Amen Jason! The important thing is for you(Mike) to heal properly. Thanks for all that you have done for the program and we all look forward to seeing you as your old self on the courts.

  4. Let the chips fall where they may....UNLV just hang in there and if Moser can come back without being rushed all the better.
    Good luck to both!

  5. The Loss of Moser is Huge