UNLV BASKETBALL:

Notebook: League standings see multiple shake-ups Wednesday

Aside from tie for third between UNLV and SDSU, Utah and CSU now knotted-up for fifth

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FIndlay Prep point guard Cory Joseph watches the UNLV basketball team on Wednesday beat TCU 78-62 at the Thomas & Mack Center. Joseph, a McDonald’s All-American, is considering UNLV. He attends most of the Rebels’ games with Findlay teammates.

TCU vs UNLV

Chace Stanback and Tre'Von Willis combine for 32 points as UNLV moves into third place in the Mountain West Conference standings with a 78-62 win over TCU.

UNLV-TCU Basketball

UNLV guard Tre'Von Willis shoots a jumper over the outstretched arms of the TCU defense Wednesday at the Thomas & Mack Center.  The Rebels won the second straight, 78-62. Launch slideshow »

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UNLV is on a roll again, but struggled a bit the first time around with Air Force. How do you see Saturday's second meeting in Colorado Springs going down?

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The Rebel Room

TCU POSTGAME: Rebels back on the rise

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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."

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  1. Another great effort Rebs! Our press was probably the best I've seen it this year and hopefully we can continue to force turnovers at Clune Arena on Sat. I have a feeling we're gonna need another 4 or 5 threes from Kendall, but hopefully it doesn't take him 10 shots to do it. Winning breeds confidence and the guys really seemed to be having fun on the court the past two games.

    P.S. I'm just curious if there has been any talk or could possibly be any talk of Massamba red-shirting next year. He has improved leaps and bounds this season but there are clearly areas where he could improve (a better vertical, maybe a 6-8 foot jumpshot, any semblance of a left hand) With QT, Carlos, and Matt Shaw back for his senior year unless he leaves early for the draft (joking), I feel as though we should be pretty set at the 5 spot. Massamba showed a lot this offseason by dropping so much weight and making his game better in several areas, and I could only imagine how much better he would get with an extra year of practice. Right now, he is literally scoring about 95% of his points on right-handed layups. This may sound crazy, but I thought it was crazy when Kruger redshirted Joel Anthony between his Jr. and Sr. years. I couldn't imagine why Kruger would want to spend more time working on a player who showed so little in his first year. Well I was clearly wrong about Joel, and I'd like to see if Massamba could follow in his footsteps.

  2. Go to Kentucky, Corey. And take your extra curricular activities with you.

  3. I think I've heard the radio people say the same thing about the possibility of redshirting Massamba as well. Brice does have a vertical, he just doesn't use it when very close to the basket. Whenever I see him do a tip jam from a missed shot, I am always surprised he is that athletic. I agree that a 6 to 8 foot jumper will round out his game, he does shoot free throws decent enough. Brice is a work in progress and I think Lopez will be a person that slams it home every chance he gets. I am curious in how Lopez and QT will contribute but that is next year, this year, let's win out and head into the MWC tournament on a positive note.

  4. Cory goes to Kentucky most likely

  5. Happy to see Cory on hand. It would have been nice to show him that this city doesn't jump on and off the bandwagon that dramatically. Come on people. Noone shows up when tickets are $7-$10. This team has won 20+ games 4 years in a row for the first time since the early 90's when the city's population was less than half its current size. If Joseph and Polee go somewhere else, atmosphere might have something to do with that.

  6. There are few schools in the country that pack the house for every game.. Especially among those with a stadium seating 18,000. There were a good amount of people at the last couple games but no atmosphere due to the large scoring margin. I think when the conference tournament starts up we'll get the atmosphere that we had for Louisville and BYU.. At least I hope so.

  7. I agree with the atmosphere. The game was the most quiet I think I have ever been to at UNLV. I thought there were more than there were, but it was docile for sure.

  8. Already got word that Joseph is headed to Villanova, sorry Rebel fans nice to dream though!