UNLV BASKETBALL:

Jasper will miss five weeks with second-degree MCL sprain

Junior guard catches a break as MRI reveals no tears in surgically-repaired left knee

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.

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The Rebel Room

AIR FORCE POSTGAME: Jasper goes down, Kendall rises up

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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

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Previous Discussion: 23 comments so far…

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  1. Im truly sorry for Jasper...He will come back strong and help lead this team to a special post season.

  2. basically the rest of the season... the mwc tourney is march 10th.. no way the knee is going to be ready by then... physically? maybe.. no way mentally. big loss for the rebels and personally my favorite player. get better bud. hope im wrong.

  3. Here's to the Rebels using it as rally cry rather than a hindrance..

  4. Jasper caught a big break. That's the kind of freak accident which can easily result in a tear. Given the luck he's had with that knee over the past three years, it was about time he caught a break. I'm sure he takes this as good news.

    What does this mean for his impact later in the season? Well, that's yet to be determined. But it's big in the sense that he won't have to go through a lengthy rehab in preparation for 2010-11. A tear could have really thrown a wrench in his UNLV career.

  5. I am thankful for this news and wish Jasper a speedy and full recovery.

    Sitting in section 113 last night when he went down, I feared the worst.

    My heart sank at the thought of his career being over with all he's been through.

    I was praying for any result that did not end his season/career and require surgery.

    Get well soon, Derrick!

  6. OMG please help us now. Hope Jasper gets better in time for the MWC Tourney this is wow all I can say.

  7. Knowing this kid - five weeks is being conservative - I hope to see this kid doing some light work 3-4 weeks from now.

    What this means: We get to see Marshall and Hawkins begin their transition from true freshmen to future starters. I love Jasper, but this is a gift. Mainly because strong performances by them further proves what his bench CAN do later on in the season.

    I wish the best for Derrick, but I can't wait to see what Marshall and Anthony produce.

  8. Great news. I thought his career was over with his history on that knee.

    Get better soon, Derrick. You are going to be missed, but this is better news that expected. Go Rebels!

  9. We need this Shabaz Muhamed kid!

  10. @ spdjjtt

    Unless Shabazz can finish his last two years of high school wihtin the next 4 months, UNLV will have to wait for 2012 like the rest of the country.

  11. Lenny_V ... It is. Had a nice talk with Dwayne Polee earlier today, actually. Gathering some other stuff and you'll have it this week, as promised over the weekend.

  12. I'm really glad it wasn't worse. Here's hoping for a quick rehab, Derrick, so you can suit up again come MWC Tourney time.

    Until then, I say it's more of a trial by fire for Marshall and Hawkins. Who knows? Maybe this is the kind of mishap that will benefit the Rebels, if it gives our freshman more exposure, court time, and confidence.

    Still, it's going to be hard to compensate for the rebounding mismatches we enjoyed at the three spot.

    Go, Rebs!

  13. FYI a grade 2 MCL sprain is a partial tear. MCL's rarely require surgery since they just scar down. It is a lucky injury considering. That type of impact could have easily torn his ACL and meniscus which would put him out for the season.

  14. I don't think Kruger will play two bigs, he's going to stick with the Massamba-Santee-Shaw rotation. A terrific opportunity for Marshall to really develop, but he needs to work on the 'j'. I've seen him play locally and I know he can shoot, just needs to relax out there and don't force it. That said, I hope Jasper can rehab quick and get back out there, because we definitely need him. And we're about to find out how much.

  15. R_b_lsoccerscrub

    I have decided to revoke the R_b_l from your name because you are a SCRUB and don't deserve or epitomize the respect, intensity, glory, tradition and effort that is associated with the REBEL name.

    I urge all the REBEL faithful to shun this SCRUB and when referring or responding to SCOCCERSCRUBS outlandish predictions or ill wishes on the program or one of our BELOVED RUNNIN' REBEL players to not use the word REBEL in soccerscrub's name!!! This person is not worthy of the the REBEL name.

    You are truly a scumbag to wish that a young man's career is over when all he has done is battle adversity, work his tail off and do what has been asked of him to represent a university that WE ALL LOVE.

  16. Hang in there DJ we'll be waiting for your return!

  17. Best of luck to Jasper. May he recover well and soon.

    In the meantime, Shaw out top, feeds it inside to Massamba. Massmaba drives, kicks it back out to Shaw. Shaw for three! In other words, I hope we see an occasional Bellfield, Willis, Stanback, Massamba, Shaw lineup.

  18. Wow, after seeing his initial reaction, I too, feared the worse. I hate that this happened but, I'm really glad this wasn't something that required surgery. Hang in there DJ, we'll be waiting for you.

  19. We don't want him to rush back too soon and injure it again. Better to rest it this season because next years team will be money.

  20. Glad to hear his career is ot over.
    Good luck DJ!
    Hope you are playing again soon!

  21. Jasper is such a big part of UNLV, what he does on the court defensively, i don't think he can be replaced. that being said, the rotation now will definitely be shortened, Wyoming is going to be a hard place to play, and the team will have to regroup with out him for that to get ready for BYU.

    Get Better soon DJ!

  22. Marshall can fill the void. He has to keep the turn overs down and penetrate on offense like we know he can at ease. He is a solid rebounder and a solid defender. Close to Jasper as anyone else on the team. Hopefully this will help him come into his own and be the producer we will need him to be in the seasons to come.

  23. J-Rocafella - that dude will forever be ClosetBYUFantatic in my book.