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UNLV Notes: Mike Moser’s benching has little to do with his poor game vs. Colorado State

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Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun

UNLV forward Mike Moser defends Colorado State guard Jesse Carr during their game Wednesday, Feb. 29, 2012 at Moby Arena in Ft. Collins. CSU upset UNLV 66-59 to remain unbeaten at home this season.

UNLV vs. Colorado State: Feb. 29, 2012

Colorado State fans rush the court after upsetting UNLV 66-59 Wednesday, Feb. 29, 2012 at Moby Arena in Ft. Collins. Launch slideshow »

Rebels vs. Colorado State

KSNV coverage of UNLV basketball playing against Colorado State, Feb. 29, 2012.

FORT COLLINS, Colo. — Junior guard Justin Hawkins got his second start of the season because of a minor infraction by sophomore forward Mike Moser.

Moser missed a study hall meeting, and UNLV coach Dave Rice said he felt the appropriate punishment was to bring him off the bench in No. 17 UNLV’s 66-59 loss at Colorado State on Wednesday night.

“We have discipline in our program, and it was not a major transgression,” Rice said. “He missed a study hall meeting, made up that meeting, but nonetheless he missed it.”

It’s hard to say that the minor distraction really contributed to Moser’s dreadful performance. He entered the game after the first media timeout and hit his first shot, a 3-pointer that put UNLV ahead by eight. But Moser missed his next nine shots and grabbed only two rebounds.

The reasons that you can’t really blame benching for his game are that 1. He started out just fine and 2. Moser has been really struggling lately. He’s averaging 5.2 points on 23.5 percent shooting and 5.2 rebounds per game over the last four contests.

So while it’s possible that missing the meeting is related to his poor play, though that’s also very doubtful, there’s nothing to suggest it’s the opposite, either.

What’s more likely is that Moser, who’s still young and has been playing well above expectations for most of the season, is just in a funk.

“This, obviously, was not one of Mike’s better games,” Rice said.

Senior night

Colorado State seniors Will Bell and Kaipo Sabas went out with the first perfect home conference record since 1960-61. The duo, who both transferred to the Rams after spending two years a junior colleges, combined for 12 points and nine rebounds.

While they celebrated with the student body, UNLV slumped off the court after an up-and-down night from its seniors.

Guard Oscar Bellfield was excellent, pouring in a game-high 17 points on 6-for-11 shooting, including 5-of-8 behind the three-point line. Guard Kendall Wallace and center Brice Massamba were solid if not outstanding.

Then there was small forward Chace Stanback, whose decent final tallies of nine points and six rebounds were tempered by the fact that he scored four points in the first minute and a half.

One of the things the Rebels always talk about is playing with the same type of fire and swagger on the road that they have at home, and early on Stanback was the embodiment of that plan. He attacked. He looked defiant. And then, just as suddenly, he didn’t.

Stanback scored just two points on 1-for-7 shooting in the second half. The good news for these four is that they will get their own shot at senior night on Saturday against Wyoming, and then they have a chance to win the conference tournament on their home court.

A complicated man

The Rebels’ conference road games have offered quite the spectrum of emotions for Rice.

San Diego State had a little bit more hopefulness than disappointment. Boise State and Air Force were relief. Wyoming was flabbergasted. TCU angry. New Mexico stunned.

And after the Colorado State game, Rice was asked if he was more disappointed or angry.

“Disappointed, if those are my two choices,” Rice said. “I’m a lot of things.”

This year the road has cut to UNLV’s core and the answers within are a lot of things. Most of them unpleasant.

Taylor Bern can be reached at 948-7844 or [email protected]. Follow Taylor on Twitter at twitter.com/taylorbern.

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  1. Dave Rice is the right guy for the job. This is his first year as a head coach. He still has a lot to learn, and he's done a good job.