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UNLV basketball:

Depleted Rebels to take on Boise State without Morgan

Image

L.E. Baskow

UNLV forward Derrick Jones Jr. (1) goes up for a shot attempt against Boise State center Robin Jorch (10) during their game at the Thomas & Mack Center on Wednesday, January 27, 2016.

UNLV’s list of question marks grew by one on Saturday when sophomore forward Dwayne Morgan dislocated his shoulder at morning shootaround. Now the Rebels have some clarity on his situation, but only a little, and what they know is that they’ll be without Morgan for at least a week.

That includes tonight’s game at Boise State, which Morgan will watch from Las Vegas. The Rebels (16-12, 7-8) tip off against the Broncos (17-10, 8-6) at 8 p.m. Las Vegas time in Taco Bell Arena on ESPNU.

"Dwayne injured his shoulder on a normal basketball play that probably happens 100 times a day," UNLV interim coach Todd Simon said in a statement. "We are happy that it isn't a serious injury and are looking forward to getting him back as soon as possible. He has already begun the rehab process."

The MRI results revealed a sprained shoulder for Morgan, whom the team has already ruled out of Saturday’s regular-season home finale against Wyoming. Beyond that, though, Morgan’s status is uncertain as he’s the second Rebel forward to be diagnosed with an indefinitely long injury recovery.

The other, freshman Stephen Zimmerman Jr. (knee sprain), has been cleared to return to practice but not games, and on Monday at practice he only participated in noncontact drills. With Morgan also out, it seems more likely that Zimmerman could return at some point this season, but nothing is clear for either player. It’s possible that neither could return, which would cause depth issues that could force Simon to take another look at the UNLV football roster for possible options.

“I was just looking for someone big,” Simon said Saturday night after UNLV defeated UNR 102-91 in overtime.

Tonight is a rematch of one of UNLV’s biggest victories of the conference season, but neither team has been the same since. The Rebels won by 10 to move to 4-1 Simon, but in the next game they were crushed by San Diego State and lost Ben Carter to a torn ACL, one of several injuries that have left the team with only six healthy scholarship players.

And as for Boise State, the Broncos were 6-1 entering that game and have now lost five of their last seven, including the controversial ending at Colorado State and a blown 15-point lead late at New Mexico last week. Now the Broncos will try to salvage what they can against the team that precipitated this slide with a crew of officials who oversaw the clock malfunction that cost them the game in Fort Collins.

It was announced on Monday that officials Dave Hall and Verne Harris, who were on the game when James Webb’s buzzer-beater was waived off because of an error on the replay clock, and Randy McCall would comprise the crew for tonight’s game. While those guys are sure to hear it from the home crowd — and they’re not exactly popular among UNLV fans, either — Boise State coach Leon Rice said there was no crew he’d rather have.

“You can’t lose sight of what really happened, and what really happened in that situation is those guys were given false information. No matter who looked at the monitor and looked at that video, that was the result they had to come up with,” Rice told reporters after practice. “… That was a technology error. Not an official error.”

Officials often play a factor for the road team, which is something that UNLV often fixates on too much. Senior Ike Nwamu picked up a technical foul last week at Air Force for yelling at Hall — Nwamu got another T in Saturday’s game — and afterward Simon acknowledged that the team’s Us vs. the World mentality too often included the players barking at or blaming referees.

How the calls will go is just another question mark the Rebels can’t concern themselves with, because with so much stacked against their short-handed roster, the only thing to focus on is what they can control.

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

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