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Kendall Wallace tries to end his career by helping UNLV end its NCAA Tournament losing streak


Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun

UNLV players, from left, Mike Moser, Justin Hawkins, Kendall Wallace and Quintrell Thomas wait for Anthony Marshall to shoot free throws after a flagrant foul by TCU during their Mountain West Conference game Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2012 at the Thomas & Mack Center. UNLV won the game 101-78.

A look at the UNLV basketball team's 2012 seniors

UNLV's Chace Stanback and Brice Massamba celebrate a basket and foul against UC Santa Barbara Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2011 in Santa Barbara. UNLV won the game in double overtime 94-88. Launch slideshow »

Las Vegas Sun, March 03, 2012

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There’s a commercial that airs on the Thomas & Mack Center’s big screen that features a few of the players sitting in the locker room discussing Kendall Wallace, the most-senior senior on this year’s team.

“I heard he was in the same recruiting class as Coach Rice,” teammate Bryce Jones jokes.

Fellow senior Chace Stanback, who is one year younger than Wallace, adds: “I think I’ve seen him drink prune juice before the games.”

The spot is hammy and a little funny, but more importantly, it cuts to the core of Wallace’s role on this year’s team. A knee injury that forced him to miss the entire 2010-11 season has limited him this year to 11.4 minutes per game, a career low.

He still comes in and can knock down a 3-pointer in big spots, but mostly his leadership role has been limited to practice and off the court. And it’s in those venues the veteran lives up to his name as the man who’s seen it all.

A Mountain West tournament title and an NCAA Tournament victory are just ideas to every other Rebel. But Wallace has lived it, and he has the memories, and the ring, to prove it.

“If we play well, we feel like we should definitely win the Mountain West tournament, and win games in the NCAA Tournament,” Wallace said. “That’s a special feeling when you win the championship, and I really would like to celebrate that with my teammates."

This season has certainly not gone as Wallace would have liked. It’s difficult to spend your senior year hampered by injury and at the back end of the rotation.

Certain players in that position could become a distraction. Rice said he never had to worry about that with Wallace.

"He’s been a little bit frustrated this year because of his knee, but yet he’s been so positive and great for our young guys," Rice said.

Wallace’s career has been one of sacrifice and doing whatever’s asked of him, be it in practice or a game, to help make the team better. It’s not the most glamorous gig, but it takes wisdom to accept that role.

There’s only one player who knows what it takes to win the conference tournament or an NCAA Tournament game at UNLV. That makes Wallace invaluable as he tries to end his career by duplicating those efforts.

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

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  1. Kendall's been coming on of late, showing a lot of improvement with his mobility and some fire on defense. I think he could really help us in the MWC tourney and The Dance with some key minutes. oh yeah, and there's that shooting stroke, one of the best we've seen here. don't think I'll ever forget that performance against UNM at The Pit a few years back, just amazing!