UNLV BASKETBALL:

Notebook: Derrick Jasper’s spirits up as knee injury heals

Junior guard readjusts to role as an observer while rehabbing sprained MCL

UNLV-Wyoming Basketball

UNLV forward Chace Stanback puts up a shot against Wyoming during Wednesday's game in Laramie, Wyo. Launch slideshow »

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LARAMIE, Wyo. — It's not the role Derrick Jasper envisioned playing come February, but the UNLV junior guard's spirits are up after a trying week.

Jasper, who suffered a sprained medial collateral ligament in his left knee in last Tuesday's 60-50 home victory over Air Force, was on the bench in street clothes Wednesday as the Rebels pummeled Wyoming, 78-50.

He appeared to be walking around comfortably to and from the locker room, and, as usual, was a part of the team's pregame huddle following starting lineup introductions.

"We're still trying to get a bit of swelling out, but it feels better than it did a couple of days ago," Jasper said. "I'm walking a lot better, and it's improving over time."

Before Wednesday's game, Jasper was one of two Rebels — the other being Oscar Bellfield — to start every game for UNLV this season.

This week, he spent most of his time during team practices in the training room receiving treatments and just laying low.

The Kentucky transfer spent all of last season watching from the sidelines while sitting out per NCAA rules and now is readjusting to the role.

"It's weird watching — playing all season and then watching the game," he said. "But, you know, I've been through it before and I'll get through it again."

Jasper caught a break by suffering just a sprained MCL, as many feared it could have been worse following the freak play against the Falcons. Jasper previously had microfracture surgery on that left knee while at Kentucky.

After regrouping some, Jasper is confident that the four- to six-week prognosis for his recovery is accurate and believes he'll return before season's end.

"I'm pretty confident," he said. "(Trainer) Dave Tomchek and (strength and conditioning coach Jason) Kabo have been doing a good job rehabbing me. I've just got to get through it."

On the season, he's averaging 6.7 points, 4.9 rebounds and 2.9 assists per game.

Filling the minutes

The 24.5 minutes per game that Jasper averages were filled by the trio of Kendall Wallace, Anthony Marshall and Justin Hawkins.

And each of the three had their moments.

Hawkins scored four points, grabbed two rebounds, had two steals, dished an assist and blocked a shot in 21 minutes on the floor.

Marshall broke out late offensively, finishing with eight points on 4-of-7 shooting to go with his three assists in 15 minutes.

Wallace got the start and played 24 minutes. While his 3-point touch wasn't quite there, scoring five points on 2-for-6 shooting and 1-of-5 from deep, the junior had five assists to just one turnover and also four rebounds.

Yes, that was a zone you saw

On a couple of occasions Wednesday night, UNLV switched to a 2-3 zone on the defensive end.

It was something which Lon Kruger's team practices here and there, and a couple of those instances were earlier this week leading up to the trip to Laramie.

However, actually seeing it in games has been more of a rarity.

"That's about the only time we've played zone," Kruger said. "That's more zone tonight than we've played in all the other games, collectively ... by a lot."

Tickets for BYU game drying up quickly

As of the end of the game on Wednesday night, less than 1,800 tickets were still available for Saturday's 1 p.m. contest against No. 12 BYU.

UNLV will have another huge home tilt next Wednesday at 8 p.m. against No. 15 New Mexico.

Inside the numbers

Some more obscure numbers from within Wednesday's box score ...

• Oscar Bellfield had three assists and no turnovers for the Rebels, marking the second consecutive game in which the sophomore did not had a giveaway.

Steve Jones tied a career-high with four rebounds, but maybe his most impressive moment was a charge that the 6-foot-1 senior took underneath against Wyoming's 7-foot-2 Boubacar Sylla.

• UNLV had a very efficient second half shooting the ball. From the floor, the Rebels were 14-of-23 after building a 13-point halftime lead and were 5-of-9 from long range. Meanwhile, Wyoming was just 6-of-26 from the floor in the second half.

• UNLV scored 20 points off of 14 Wyoming turnovers.

• The Rebels outscored the Cowboys in the paint, 32-16.

The final word

Matt Shaw on UNLV's large margin of victory, which hasn't been a common occurrence in league play: "That's what I was thinking about in the locker room, it's the first blowout we've had. It kinda does feel good, but we can't just assume we're going to do this to everybody, because credit to Wyoming, they are a good team. But I just think we came ready to play."

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  1. Great game Rebs! I'll have to admit that this game scared me more than it should've... but we seem to find a way of making every game we are "supposed to win" a little too exciting (See: Air Force). Ryan- I couldn't hear the television because I was at a bar, but it looked like the Rebels played more zone this game than ever before. Is it something Coach Kruger is working a lot on in practice, or is Wyoming that bad at shooting? I'm guessing Kendall replacing Derrick has a lot do with it, but from what I recall they played it without him in the game too. Personally, I think that in our past victories against BYU our man to man D has caused them a lot of troubles and with the shooters they have a zone might come back to haunt us... especially since we are so used to playin man.

  2. Great game rebs. Feels good to finally blow a team out. 18-4 sounding great!

  3. @drivendish ...

    I mentioned above that UNLV inserted it in practice a couple of times earlier this week, but I'm not sure it's something they'll rely upon a ton moving forward. I think it was employed because of how out of control Wyoming was on offense and how poor their shooting is. Their three healthy leading scorers on the season combined for just seven points. UNLV had a great opportunity to simply test out the zone some with the game getting out of hand, and it also helped confuse the Cowboys even more.

  4. Ryan - Do you think that showing the zone a bit against Wyoming, while obviously a good strategy against the weak Wyoming shooters, was maybe a way for Kruger just to give the Cougars a little something more to think about?

  5. I'll have to look again Ryan, but I thought they were clearly in a 3-2 zone, never played a 2-3 like your article says.

  6. A 1-2-2 and 3-2 often look the same if the ball swings to the wings and it looked to me to be one of the 2?

  7. Sandler called it a 1-2-2 on the radio a couple of times.