LIVE GAME BLOG — Final:

UNLV loses Jasper to knee injury, comes back to down Air Force, 60-50

Early 3-pointers in second half from Wallace set tone as Rebels improve to 17-4, 5-2

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Justin M. Bowen

Brice Massamba lays it in for two of his six first half point as UNLV takes on Air Force at the Thomas & Mack Tuesday.

Updated Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2010 | 9:18 p.m.

Air Force vs UNLV

UNLV managed to overcome both a sluggish offense and a Derrick Jasper knee injury in the first half to beat Air Force 60-50 Tuesday night.

UNLV-Air Force Basketball

Brice Massamba lays it in for two of his six first half point as UNLV takes on Air Force at the Thomas & Mack Tuesday. Launch slideshow »

Final, UNLV wins 60-50

When UNLV needed emotional boost more than anything, Kendall Wallace was there.

Junior guard Derrick Jasper was lost late in the first half to injury, which was for the moment diagnosed as a sprained left knee. It was the same knee which Jasper had microfracture surgery on two years ago while still at Kentucky.

UNLV had its lowest scoring first half of the season, trailing Air Force at the break, 24-21.

Wallace started in Jasper's place to start the second half, and his four early 3-pointers in the second stanza set the tone as UNLV took care of the pesky Falcons, 60-50, at the Thomas & Mack Center.

At the time he went down, Jasper had three points, four rebounds and four assists in what was one of his better halves of basketball as a Rebel.

His teammates picked it up after the break, overcoming Air Force's penchant for slowing things down consistently when Jeff Reynolds' club faces the Rebels. Tre'Von Willis led the Rebels with 13 points, while Chace Stanback and Wallace each scored 12. Brice Massamba, in his second consecutive start, scored eight, including the team's first six of the night.

UNLV improves to 17-4 overall and 5-2 in Mountain West play. Air Force is now 8-11 overall and 0-6 in the league. The loss was the program's 22nd straight in MWC games.

The Rebels are off for eight days before facing Wyoming next Wednesday in Laramie.

For more, including further updates on Jasper, stories, stats, photos, video and The Rebel Room: Postgame Edition, stay tuned to lasvegassun.com/rebels.

7:35, second half, UNLV leads 44-38

UNLV hit eight of its first nine shots of the second half, and now is holding Air Force at arm's length with 7:35 to play in the game, leading 44-38.

While Kendall Wallace provided all of the early fireworks out of the halftime locker room for the Rebels, Oscar Bellfield then picked up the torch, hitting a 3-pointer from the top of the key. Chace Stanback then brought the student section behind him to its feet with a sweet cross-over move on the baseline, putting an Air Force defender on his behind, then cashing a mid-range jumper.

Now, UNLV is 9-of-14 from the floor in the second half and 5-of-9 from 3-point range.

14:05, second half, UNLV leads 36-34

The early diagnosis on UNLV junior guard Derrick Jasper is that it's a left knee sprain. Of course, there will more than likely be further evaluation to come in the next day or two.

But in the mean-time, UNLV has taken its first lead of the night on pesky Air Force, thanks in large part to Kendall Wallace.

Starting the second half in place of Jasper, he has hit a trio of 3-pointers early on, igniting the dormant home crowd.

UNLV is certainly playing an inspired brand of ball right now with one of its best players back in the locker room in pain. Can't make up storylines like this.

Halftime, Air Force leads 24-21

The good for UNLV is that the Rebels scored the final six points of the first half, showed some signs of life and have a bit of momentum at the half, down 24-21.

The bad? Well, not only was it the team's lowest-scoring first half of the season, but UNLV might have to go the rest of the way without junior guard Derrick Jasper.

The Kentucky transfer, who had microfracture surgery two years ago while still at Kentucky, was in a cluster underneath on the defensive end as a charge was called on Air Force's Tom Fow. He went down clutching his left knee and was helped off the floor by team trainer Dave Tomcheck and strength & conditioning coach Jason Kabo.

He was then helped to the locker room at the half with tears in his eyes. He's currently being evaluated in the locker room.

Unfortunately for UNLV, he had been the Rebels' spark plug to that point, with four assists, four rebounds and three points in 13 first half minutes.

You have to wonder how the Rebels emotionally handle the second half. Could be very interesting.

Here are some other numbers of note from the first half ...

— UNLV is 9-of-19 from the floor, while Air Force is 9-of-21. It's more the pace than anything that's affecting the Rebels. The Falcons have their number in terms of keeping the game slowed down.

— Tre'Von Willis and Chace Stanback, who combined for 49 points on Saturday at TCU, scored a combined six points in the first half.

— Tom Fow has been the killer for Air Force, as he has a game-high nine points on 3-of-4 shooting from 3-point range. Meanwhile, UNLV's top 3-point gun — Kendall Wallace — is 0-for-3 from deep.

More in the second half, plus updates on Jasper as they're made available.

3:58, first half, Air Force leads, 19-12

UNLV continues to struggle to acclimate against an Air Force team that just wants to slow the Rebels down, and time to build some momentum before halftime is running short.

UNLV trails Air Force, 19-12, with 3:58 left in the first frame, and the Falcons, who have lost 21 consecutive Mountain West games, are playing with more and more confidence.

Derrick Jasper continues to be a spark of sorts for the Rebels, with four defensive boards and three assists, and he'll go to the line for a pair out of the current T.V. timeout. It looked for a second like a baseline jumper from Justin Hawkins out of the last full break could be a momentum-swinger, but it went to waste thanks to two UNLV turnovers.

For reference, UNLV's lowest scoring first half this season came in a Dec. 25 loss to USC, where the Rebels managed only 25 points in the game's first 20 minutes.

11:41, first half, Air Force leads, 7-6

UNLV is still defending Air Force to the bone, but finding rhythm on the offensive end continues to be a struggle, as the Rebels still trail the Falcons eight minutes in, 7-6.

Brice Massamba has all three UNLV field goals so far. His second came off of a sweet inside feed from Derrick Jasper. Jasper also fed Massamba a possession later, and the sophomore forward spun underneath for a nice bucket.

Outside of him, though, the Rebels are 0-for-5 from the floor, and are struggling to get good looks.

Air Force is only 2-of-6 from the floor, but is taking UNLV out of its comfort zone.

Best state line so far? Derrick Jasper, in eight minutes, has two boards, two assists and a steal.

14:46, first half, Air Force leads, 5-2

Well, Air Force can say it had control of this game's pace at some point when all is said and done. Last year, the Falcons kept both meetings with the Rebels this slowed down. Can they do it again?

As UNLV struggled to hit shots out of the gates, Air Force milked the entire shot clock on three of its first four possessions, and the blacked-out crowd at the Mack is growing a little restless.

Air Force took an early 5-2 lead thanks to a Grant Parker three and an Evan Washington mid-range jumper. UNLV didn't score until there was 15:01 on the first half clock. The Rebels missed their first four attempts. Brice Massamba scored on a nice inside dish from Oscar Bellfield.

Pregame

If it weren't for the heavily advertised black-out tonight at the Thomas & Mack, getting the stands filled tonight for a battle between UNLV (16-4 overall, 4-2 MWC) and lowly Air Force (8-10, 0-5) might have been a labor of love.

But it looks like it'll be a pretty good crowd tonight, and the shirts given away to the first 4,000 fans in attendance aren't too shabby, either (here's a photo, courtesy of UNLV team manager David Cleveland via Twitter).

The Rebels are hoping to treat the home crowd to a better show than the last outing at the Mack, which was a 73-69 upset loss to Utah last Saturday.

However, if you had the chance to tune in, you saw a UNLV team which responded in the right way in two surprisingly tough road atmospheres last week at Colorado State on Wednesday night and TCU on Saturday evening.

UNLV picked up two nice wins, is now 7-1 in true road games and the mission tonight is to avoid losing the focus which was so sharp over the last week.

Air Force comes in and is, well, um, bad this year. There's no point in sugar-coating it. Part of it is their fault, due to, well a lack of talent. The other part is injuries, which can be a cruel friend to have pay a visit over the course of a season.

With all of that laid out, now it's on to tonight's three keys to UNLV victory ...

1) UNLV swept Air Force a year ago, but neither game was pretty. Both were low-scoring. First, up in Colorado Springs, the Rebels needed a barrage of 3-pointers from Kendall Wallace to pull away. On the return game in Vegas, UNLV won, 46-43. It was the second-lowest scoring output in a win in program history. That said, UNLV needs to speed these guys up. If the Rebels can do that, I don't see Air Force realistically hanging around for very long.

2) The big men need to produce like they did on Saturday at TCU. The three-headed monster of Brice Massamba, Matt Shaw and Darris Santee combined for 22 points on 9-of-10 shooting, and each was special in his own right in limited minutes. One thing Air Force does have by the bulk is size. The Rebels need to combat that somehow.

3) Derrick Jasper needs to keep his act up on the defensive glass. On the season, he's now UNLV's second-leading rebounder, averaging 4.8 per game. In UNLV's last two games, he's grabbed 18 ... all on the defensive end. At 6-foot-6, he can sneak up from the back-court to sky and grab those off-target shots. It's truly an equalizer for UNLV, as none of the Rebels' big men are big-time boarders. That will also keep Air Force from getting any wild ideas early on.

As for tonight's prediction and 'Pick to Click,' I'm taking UNLV, 84-60. I think Anthony Marshall has a big night off the bench. I think he'll see a lot of minutes, and he's been on an offensive slump which he's been nothing short of vocal about on Twitter. I say he has 10 points, 4 assists and 3 rebounds off the bench. Plus, as per usual, one highlight stuff.

Talk to you after tip-off ...

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Previous Discussion: 23 comments so far…

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  1. Somehow, I had a feeling Chop's name would come up soon. ;)

  2. yea, because this lead is all chop's fault.
    We only scored 15 points in 17 minutes and the only player you want to talk about is Chop? I don't like him playing as much as he does, but here is a news flash. THE WHOLE TEAM IS PLAYING LIKE CRAP RIGHT NOW.

  3. Doesn't look good, Jasper needed help leaving the floor. As if the score isn't sickening enough, Jasper might be seriously hurt.

  4. Wow. Six turnovers at the half?? Yikes

  5. I didn't know you were a doctor, soccerfan. Was it a torn ACL?

    He doesn't contribute? Unlike soccer, there's more to this game then just scoring. Maybe you should stick to sports that you understand.

  6. Here comes a 15-2 run right here.

  7. Jasper not startting 2nd half, not good.

  8. Comment removed by moderator. There was nothing wrong with this comment; however, it referenced an inappropriate comment that has been removed.

  9. Tre has caught the turnover bug again.

  10. I do not have anything against Ryan Greene but predicting that this team would score 84 against Air Force? This team has a hard time getting to 80 against a running team. Last year we played them twice and did not hit 60. I am sorry but does he really know anything about this team???

  11. A win is a win is a win.

  12. Well, another not-so-pretty win, but as we keep saying, a win is a win. Nice game by Oscar with 10 assists and a nice second half by Wallace. We outrebounded our opponent for the third game in a row, which is a positive. Tre was a bit sloppy tonight, and I wish we would have worked it inside more, but I guess when more than half your shots are threes and you still shoot 50% from the field we can live with that. Let's take the win, hope Jasper's injury isn't too serious, and start prepping for Wyoming.

  13. I'm listening to the post game radio show, and they're saying the knee injury MIGHT, MIGHT not be too serious. Let's hope they are right. It will be a huge challenge foir this team to go forward without Jasper. The kid does everything, most importantly rebounds, definitely a glue-type guy

  14. Some bodily harm needs to come to Soccer Fan but he will hide behind a CPU.

    UNLV always ends up playing Air Forces tempo and Air Force is a bad match-up for UNLV because UNLV likes to extend their defense and that plays well into the Princeton offense. Not a lot of energy during the game from the Rebs except in spurts. A win in WY and we go 6-2 to start league play with 5 of the 8 games on the road.

    I tore an ACL playing basketball and I would bet money Jasper didn't tear anything. Looked to me like he hyper-extended it.

  15. Ugly win ... Don't care ... I'll take it!

    And when are you all going to realize that THE BEST WAY TO MAKE THE CLOWN GO AWAY IS TO TOTALLY IGNORE HIM!! Seriously, guys like that live for a reaction. Don't give them one and that's the best way to drive them crazy.

    Hope you're okay, Jasper!!!

  16. Once again, another win and soccerhomotastic vanishes. I wish the d-bag would vanish for good. At least once the tournament rolls around he won't be hanging around. Keep making your predictions soccerhomotastic....we usually win when you do.

  17. Dang, I had to turn the TV over to the golf channel to get some excitement. No wonder AF is so bad, its hard to watch their game. I don't think UNLV played bad, I just think AF is that boring. I think they try and lull you to sleep and before you know it, the game is over. Almost like waiting for the last second shot, if it goes in they win, if they miss, they lose philosophy.

    I like your reverse psychology Soccerfan, you keep saying how bad they are and they keep winning. Good Job.

    Ryan, thats pulling on heart strings telling us Jasper had tears in his eyes going off the court. Hope he is back out there soon.

    I think we struggle against AF because of, what else, no dominating big men. If we had a big man that could score whenever he wanted and cleaned up the misses, AF couldn't stall. You can't stall when your down ten points. Heck, even Brice had a few possessions where he out muscled the AF bigs. You go inside a few times and it breaks their backs, gets you some breathing room, everyone relaxes and its a route. Anyways, good win to get out of the way.

  18. Good game Rebs!
    I hope DJ is ok.

  19. Comment removed by moderator. There was nothing wrong with this comment; however, it referenced an inappropriate comment that has been removed.

  20. Comment removed by moderator. Comment removed by staff. There was nothing wrong with this comment; however, it referenced an inappropriate comment that has been removed.

  21. Can somebody explain to me WHY on earth, every time Stanback gets in some kind of a groove, coach pulls him out and replaces him with Chop? I am NOT bashing Chop. The kid gets on the floor and gives a %110. But Chace has had a few excellent games lately, and is showing more and more improvements. Why would the coach stop his momentum by pulling him off the court everytime he gets going?

  22. That stuff was funny. The guy predicted that UNLV would score 84 points on Air Force and we can't make fun of that. He's a reporter. He's supposed to know what he's talking about.

    Are we getting a little sensitive at The Sun.

  23. Ryan didn't delete any comments this evening. He also didn't ask that any comments be removed. Greene busts his backside to cover this team. And unlike 95 percent of the newspaper reporters in the world, Ryan will get in here in the comments section of stories and be a part of the conversation. He's helpful, honest and willing to make corrections.

    This isn't about the Sun being too sensitive. It's about everyone being respectful.