UNLV basketball:

Rebels’ Bennett exits game at Wyoming early with left shoulder injury

UNLV coach Dave Rice said the freshman forward slept wrong, woke with a stiff shoulder he couldn’t play through

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Jerilee Bennett/Gazette/Associated Press

UNLV’s Anthony Bennett reacts in the first half against Air Force at Air Force, Colo., on Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2013. UNLV lost to Air Force 71-56.

UNLV vs. Wyoming

Wyoming's Matt Sellers (43) tries to get inside against UNLV defender Khem Birch (2) during an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Feb. 23, 2013, in Laramie, Wyo. UNLV won 65-42. (AP Photo/Laramie Boomerang, Jeremy Martin) Launch slideshow »

LARAMIE, Wyo. — UNLV freshman forward Anthony Bennett went to the bench with 15:55 left in the first half of a blowout victory at Wyoming and didn’t return the rest of the game because of a left shoulder injury, coach Dave Rice said.

“He slept on it wrong,” Rice said, adding he didn’t hear about the shoulder stiffness until the team’s shootaround at Arena-Auditorium on Saturday morning.

Even without its leading scorer and rebounder, UNLV (21-7, 8-5) easily defeated Wyoming (18-9, 4-9) 65-42. The Cowboys had to play without leading rebounder and second-leading scorer Leonard Washington, who missed his second straight game with an ankle injury.

After the shootaround Bennett met with team trainer Dave Tomchek and the two decided Bennett would be OK to play. He started the game as usual and even took the opening tip, something Khem Birch usually handles for the Rebels. Even Birch, who went on to record his third career double-double with 12 points and a career-high 14 rebounds, didn’t think much of Bennett’s injury at first.

“I didn’t think it was that serious until he couldn’t get a rebound,” Birch said. “He couldn’t even take off his shorts in the locker room. It was really hurting him.”

When Mike Moser (11 points, seven rebounds) came in for Bennett, the freshman told Rice “he couldn’t go.” Tomchek and Bennett decided to reevaluate the injury at halftime and see if they could loosen it up, but nothing changed. Bennett finished with no points on 0-for-2 shooting, including a missed 3-point attempt, one turnover and a foul in four minutes.

Asked if the decision would have been different if the game was closer or if this was a tournament game, Rice just said the shoulder really bothered Bennett.

“At halftime they made the decision he just couldn’t go,” Rice said.

UNLV has a week off before its next game, a Saturday afternoon tilt at UNR. The team left Arena-Auditorium immediately after the game to catch a charter flight back to Las Vegas, where Bennett will be reevaluated in the coming days.

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

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  1. Any updates on AB's shoulder?