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UNLV’s Zimmerman sidelined indefinitely with sprained knee

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Steve Marcus

UNLV forward Stephen Zimmerman Jr. (33) watches from the bench during a game against South Dakota at the Thomas & Mack Center Tuesday, Dec. 22, 2015.

UNLV’s season of mishaps and maladies continues as freshman forward Stephen Zimmerman Jr. is out indefinitely because of a sprained knee, interim coach Todd Simon announced tonight.

Zimmerman left Saturday’s game at Fresno State with 8:37 remaining in the first half after twisting his knee during a jump ball with the Bulldogs’ Terrell Carter. Both players were holding onto the ball after the whistle, and as they tried to wrestle it away from one another, Carter’s right leg was positioned behind Zimmerman’s left right before the UNLV freshman went to the floor in pain.

Zimmerman had an MRI this morning, and while the timetable for his return is uncertain, it’s all but a guarantee that he’ll miss at least Wednesday’s home game against San Jose State.

“This is another tough injury for our team right now,” Simon said in a statement. “We feel terrible for Stephen and know he will work extremely hard to get back on the floor.”

Zimmerman, who leads the team in rebounding and ranks third in points, is projected to go No. 12 in the latest mock draft from NBADraft.net. This is the latest of a litany of injuries he’s battled this year, including an illness and a thigh injury that each kept him out of a game earlier this season.

This season hasn’t gone how anyone in the program imagined. Many were insulted when the Rebels were picked only fourth by media in the preseason Mountain West poll, yet currently they sit in sole possession of eighth place in what might be a one-bid league.

This year the Rebels have, in order, had a player transfer — although sophomore Goodluck Okonoboh has not reportedly enrolled anywhere else — seen coach Dave Rice get fired, lost Ben Carter to a season-ending knee injury, dismissed sophomore Daquan Cook and now this. An already small lineup will get even smaller for however long Zimmerman is out, and it could mean minutes for walk-ons Austin Starr or Barry Cheaney since the team is still considering a medical redshirt for junior Tyrell Green.

“With the loss of Ben for the season and now Stephen, we are down to seven in our normal rotation of guys,” Simon said. “It is another obstacle, but they are committed to working hard and putting forth great effort.”

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

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