REBELS BASKETBALL:

Notebook: Competition for time bringing out the best in UNLV bigs

Massamba gets start, but all three Rebel big men produce in win at TCU

UNLV-TCU Basketball

UNLV's Chace Stanback, top, dunks over TCU players Nikola Cerina and Zvonko Buljan in the first half of UNLV's 79-70 victory on Jan. 23, 2010, at Daniel-Meyer Coliseum in Fort Worth, Texas. Launch slideshow »

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FORT WORTH, Texas — On his 22nd birthday, UNLV junior forward Matt Shaw simply had to make more out of less.

Coming off of the bench for the first time after starting 12 consecutive games, he scored 10 points while playing a season-low nine minutes in the Rebels' 79-70 victory Saturday over TCU.

"It really doesn't (matter who starts)," he said. "Whoever is getting results, there's no selfishness with that. Whoever is getting results is going to play."

Truth is, sophomore Brice Massamba's recent play had earned him the start.

But in no way was it a demotion of Shaw, who last came off the bench Dec. 12.

Shaw, Massamba and senior Darris Santee all said afterward that the fluidity of the minutes among the UNLV big men is part of what has kept them hungry.

Saturday just happened to be the finest hour on the offensive end for the group as a whole, as the trio combined to score 22 points on 9-of-10 shooting.

"We work better like that," Santee said.

Added Massmaba: "We're just trying to push each other when we're coming in. If Matt's starting, he's showing me what he's feeling and seeing on the court when I'm coming in trying to do the same thing he's doing."

Massamba's points all came early in the second half.

Setting the tone for the group in the first half was Santee, who had a big two-handed jam on the baseline in his return to his home state. He added two more buckets from close range.

Shaw, before his back-to-back 3-pointers from the wing, hit a nice baby hook in his first minute in the game.

"Matt stepped in and made two big threes. Darris had what I thought was one of his better stretches in the first half. Brice gave us good play," UNLV coach Lon Kruger said. "Different guys at different times. Who starts is not the most important thing. The three of them together are really doing a good job."

Inside the numbers

A few more numbers of note from UNLV's victory on Saturday ...

• The Rebels won the rebounding battle for the third consecutive game, edging the Horned Frogs on the glass, 29-23. UNLV held TCU to just five offensive boards. Junior guard Derrick Jasper led the way with nine rebounds.

• UNLV outscored TCU in the paint, 30-23.

• TCU's Zvonko Buljan had to struggle to reach his season average of 13 points. He was 4-of-10 from the floor and just 1-of-4 from 3-point range. He also had five rebounds and four assists.

• UNLV shot 59.2 percent from the floor, including a 14-of-22 (63.6 percent) showing in the second half.

What's on tap?

UNLV headed home Saturday after the game, ending a five-day, two-city extended road trip.

Things are about to slow down, too.

UNLV will host Mountain West cellar-dweller Air Force at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday. After that, the Rebels won't play until the following Wednesday, when they complete the first half of their MWC slate at Wyoming.

Following a 71-54 loss Saturday at Utah, the Falcons are 8-10 overall and 0-5 in league play. They went 0-16 in MWC games a year ago.

It has been even uglier that that conference record indicates, as those five losses have come by an average of 17.8 points.

The silver lining for the Falcons is that star forward Grant Parker made his return to the lineup Saturday after missing 10 games because of injury. Before going down, he averaged 17.1 points and 7.1 boards a game.

The final word

Lon Kruger on how Tre'Von Willis picked apart TCU: "Tre just played at a great pace. He wasn't rushing things. He was waiting for the defense to commit, then he was either knocking down a jumper over them or stepping through and getting fouled. I like what he's doing right now. His game continues to mature, and it was a great time for it."

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  1. The tough shots were dropping finally. It's not the wide open shots that win games, it's those highly contested shots that make the difference. Great job bigs, loved the way Santee was playing early on.

  2. Did anyone else catch the CBS College Sports screw ups?

    Like the highlight reel of "Matt Shaw" that was actually of Santee? And then they put Matt Shaw's name and stats over a live shot of Santee?

    CBS College Sports, VS, and The Mtn. are all over the place sometimes...

  3. Does anyone know when the tv contract with the mtn ends? because it isn't soon enough, that's for sure.

  4. Versus is actually pretty good..

  5. I don't have a problem with VS. or the mtn. CBS College Sports is the problem. And can't we get a national game on CBS. Seriously, the game on the 6th could be a 3pm start.

  6. It doesn't really matter when the TV contract ends, because they'll again take money over professionalism and exposure.