Wednesday, Jan. 27, 2010 | 2:35 p.m.
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From the Sun archives
- 2008-09 season is Jasper's time to heal (1-23-2009)
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Ryan Greene and Ray Brewer discuss UNLV's 60-50 triumph over Air Force on Tuesday night at the Mack. Kendall Wallace helped get the Rebels going in the second half, while Derrick Jasper hurting his left knee was the hot topic of the night. The guys take a look at who could emerge if the UNLV junior misses any extended period of time.
Just as Derrick Jasper was coming into his own in the UNLV rotation, his season hit a good-sized road bump.
But it could have been much worse.
The junior guard who transferred from Kentucky following the 2007-08 campaign will miss roughly five weeks with a second-degree MCL sprain in his surgically repaired left knee. Fortunately for Jasper, an MRI on Wednesday revealed no complete ligament tears.
Jasper, who had microfracture surgery performed on his left knee following his freshman season at Kentucky, averaged 6.7 points, 4.9 rebounds and 2.9 assists per game this season for the Rebels (17-4 overall, 5-2 Mountain West).
The injury occurred Tuesday with just more than a minute left to play in the first half of UNLV's 60-50 victory over Air Force at the Thomas & Mack Center.
On the play, junior forward Matt Shaw drew a charge from Air Force's Tom Fow. As he fell backwards to the floor, he rolled up onto Jasper's left leg. Jasper was on the floor for a few moments, then was aided to the sideline by trainer Dave Tomchek. Moments later, he draped his arms over the shoulders of Tomchek and strength and conditioning coach Jason Kabo to head to the locker room with tears welling in his eyes.
Jasper worked during his entire redshirt season last season to rehab the left knee, which never fully healed following his surgery. Instead, he had come back early to play his sophomore season at Kentucky on a leg that was far from full strength.
UNLV is now off for a bit before traveling to face Wyoming next Wednesday in Laramie. Before then, coach Lon Kruger and his staff will figure out how to fill the void left by Jasper's absence.
Heading into Tuesday's game against the Falcons, Jasper averaged 25.1 minutes per game, which ranked third on the team.
While his shooting and scoring presence still was coming along at the time of the injury, the 6-foot-6 Paso Robles, Calif., native was making his presence felt on the glass and on the defensive end.
In UNLV's back-to-back road wins last week at Colorado State and TCU, he'd led the charge in helping the Rebels establish more of a presence on the defensive boards after they were hurting in that facet of the game for much of the season to that point and especially early in league play. In each of those two games, he grabbed nine defensive rebounds, and Tuesday, before going down, he had four defensive boards to go with his three points and four assists.
His 4.9 rebounds per game rank second on the team behind Chace Stanback's 5.4 average.
Kruger is not short on options. If the Rebels choose to go with a bigger lineup, that could mean more minutes for Shaw or senior forward Darris Santee. If Kruger hopes to stay with a three-guard lineup, it could mean extended minutes for freshmen Anthony Marshall and Justin Hawkins.
— An updated version of this story can be found here