Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun
Friday, Nov. 4, 2011 | 12:34 a.m.
Following an ugly 58-50 victory over Washburn in Tuesday's exhibition at the Thomas & Mack Center, UNLV was left with plenty to clean up and correct before next Friday's start of the regular season against Grand Canyon.
Now, the Rebels will be doing so short-handed.
Sophomore forward Carlos Lopez, who scored all 11 of his points Tuesday in a strong second half showing, came down on a teammate's foot during Wednesday's late-afternoon practice. The result was what first-year coach Dave Rice said is a severely sprained right ankle.
X-rays taken to determine if there were any broken bones or damaged ligaments in the ankle came back negative, but at the moment, there is no timetable for Lopez's return.
"He will be out for a significant amount of time," Rice said. "It certainly hurts our depth with the fact that Reggie (Smith) is not eligible to play until December, so it's a tough deal. We're just hoping to get him back as soon as we can."
The best-case scenario for UNLV would be Lopez being able to return in time for the team's one-month gauntlet that begins in late November. That stretch will include games against Southern Cal, UC Santa Barbara, Wichita State, Wisconsin, UTEP, Illinois, Cal and possibly a meeting with top-ranked North Carolina.
The timing of the injury is somewhat wrenching for Rice and his staff, who were incredibly encouraged by what Lopez showed on Tuesday night while getting some time at power forward.
With Lopez out, the rotation will have to be reconfigured a tad.
Mike Moser — the team's starting power forward entering the season — played 32 minutes on Tuesday, and will likely need to play minutes like that for a while moving forward.
Behind him, senior Chace Stanback, who this season is moving back to his natural spot at small forward after playing power forward in his first two years at UNLV, will flex over and pick up some of Lopez's minutes. Stanback, UNLV's top returning scorer and rebounder who was a preseason All-Mountain West selection, will return from a two-game suspension stemming from his offseason DUI arrest in time for the Dec. 14 home contest against rival UNR.
Also seeing some time at power forward in Lopez's absence will be sophomore Karam Mashour, who is looking for somewhere to fit in Rice's rotation. Mashour recently began working some with the big men in practices, his athleticism will compensate for a lack in size compared to traditional post players and this could be a chance for him to potentially find a niche.
As for senior Brice Massamba and junior Quintrell Thomas, Rice said that they will continue to rotate solely at center.
The tinkering with the rotation begins this Saturday, when UNLV will host Loyola Marymount in a 40-minute scrimmage that is closed to both the public and the media, per NCAA rules. Rice confirmed that Stanback can and will play against the Lions.
For stats and a recap of the scrimmage, stay tuned to lasvegassun.com/rebels over the weekend.