Thursday, Feb. 25, 2010 | 2:04 a.m.
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Ryan Greene and Ray Brewer break down yet another blowout win for the suddenly-surging Rebels, who easily dispatched of TCU on Wednesday night, 78-62. UNLV was again well-rounded on the offensive end, hounding on the defensive end and now finds itself in third place in the Mountain West Conference as a result.
Each of the three games played in the Mountain West on Wednesday night had implications on the league standings as the regular season heads into its stretch run.
It began with Utah taking care of Air Force in Colorado Springs in 54-43 fashion.
The win for the Utes improved Jim Boylen's club to 6-7 in the league and tied them for fifth with Colorado State, which fell to 6-7 in a home loss Tuesday to No. 10 New Mexico.
Colorado State, however, holds the tiebreaker for now, having beaten Utah in Salt Lake City earlier this season. The two still have one meeting remaining in Fort Collins.
The biggest game of the night, however, featured No. 13 BYU dispatching San Diego State up in Provo, 82-68, behind 26 points from Jimmer Fredette.
The Cougars remained a half game behind New Mexico in second, with the two set to do battle Saturday in Provo in a game which likely will decide who gets the No. 1 seed in next month's MWC tourney in Las Vegas.
For SDSU, the loss snapped a four-game win streak and slid the Aztecs into a tie with UNLV for third in the conference when combined with the Rebels' 78-62 whipping of TCU later in the evening.
UNLV holds the tiebreaker, having beaten BYU once, while SDSU was swept by the Cougars this season. Both teams split their season series with the Lobos.
The loss for the Aztecs probably also was a big blow to their chances at a potential at-large berth into the NCAA tournament's field of 65.
Cerina a surprise absence ... for UNLV
It turns out that TCU freshman forward Nikola Cerina — who has been one of the Horned Frogs' hottest players of late — hurt himself in practice Saturday afternoon in Fort Worth.
He wasn't with the team for Wednesday's game at the Thomas & Mack Center, which came as news to UNLV coach Lon Kruger, whose team had game-planned for him earlier in the week.
The injury was undisclosed.
Cerina is averaging 5.6 points and 4.0 rebounds per game for TCU this season.
Joseph on hand
Findlay Prep point guard Cory Joseph and several of his teammates were on hand for Wednesday's game, along with the Pilots coaching staff.
The group has attended several games, but this appearance came a day after news broke that Joseph recently was watched at Findlay Prep during a practice session by Kentucky coach John Calipari.
However, he said this week that he has not added or removed any schools from his final list of five potential suitors. He's not likely to make a decision until after the Pilots' season ends in early April.
Joseph, who Rivals.com ranks as the No. 7 prospect in the 2010 class, is considering, in no particular order, UNLV, Minnesota, Texas, UConn and Villanova.
Inside the numbers
Expanding on some numbers from Wednesday's box score ...
• Brice Massamba's nine rebounds gave the sophomore big man a new career high. His previous best was six, which came in the season's second game against UNR back on Nov. 18 at the Mack.
• Before Saturday, UNLV hadn't had four players score in double figures since Dec. 22 in the opening round of the Diamond Head Classic in Honolulu against SMU. Wednesday the Rebels did so for the second consecutive game. Chace Stanback and Tre'Von Willis each had 16, while Kendall Wallace scored 12 and Massamba tallied 10.
What's on tap?
UNLV will take on MWC cellar-dweller Air Force at 12:30 p.m. Saturday at Clune Arena in Colorado Springs.
In the first meeting between the two on Jan. 26, the Falcons did what they always do, by taking the air out of the ball and slowing the game down with lengthy possessions. UNLV did win that game, however, 60-50.
However, as Air Force is only 9-17 overall and 1-12 in the league this season, capitalizing on taking opponents out of their comfort zone hasn't been as big of an issue as struggling to efficiently run the Princeton offense.
"We've got to be prepared for their offense, and we've got to know that we're going to be on defense for 30, 33 seconds every time down the court, then just get good looks on offense," Stanback said.
The final word
Stanback on the team finding its footing again after its recent 3-game skid: "We're starting to get our confidence back. We know what we have to do, we're developing our identity back and just playing hard defnesively. If we do that, we're pretty hard to beat."