In a game that UNLV should have rolled, the Rebels escaped with a fairly hard fought 60-50 victory over the slow-em down Air Force Falcons. Most every Rebel struggled in the first half as the slow down game kept Air Force in the lead through the entire 15 minutes of the first half. UNLV got hot in the second half, leading for the final 18:06 of the game. UNLV gets a week off, which could prove important with Derrick Jasper going down with a strained knee that could be potentially worse.
Air Force's slow down offense had the Rebels all out of sync for the first 20 minutes, as UNLV was held to a season low 21 first half points. UNLV didn't even get points on the board until 4:59 into the first half. The team was completely disjointed by Air Force and could get nothing of significance rolling for most of the half. Air Force wasn't exactly a juggernaut on offense either, but they got several key 3s from Tom Fow. They were able to slow the game down on both ends, stymieing UNLV's offense on one end, and then running down the shot clock and scoring on the other end. The Falcons extended their lead to as much as 12, but UNLV got hot to close out the first half, scoring the final six points.
That final flurry might have been the jump-start UNLV needed for the second half. Kendall Wallace, scoreless in the first half, carried UNLV to start the second half with four 3-pointers in five minutes early in the half. Those points provided UNLV the lead for the first time and for the rest of the game. UNLV's top scoring duo of Tre'Von Willis and Chace Stanback were held relatively in check, finishing with a combined with 24 point. As has been the case they did get a solid performance from a third guy, which proved to be just enough.
The struggles of the game went beyond the offensive struggles though. Guard Derrick Jasper went down in the first half with an injury to the knee on which he had microfracture surgery. It was initially diagnosed as a knee sprain, but it will be interesting to see what it looks like upon further evaluation in the next day or two. Jasper hasn't been a high scorer for UNLV, but he's done a lot of the necessary dirty work. Any extended time out would be a blow to the Rebels.
UNLV: The Rebels have this weekend off before wrapping up the first half of conference play at Wyoming next Wednesday. UNLV will have to make sure they don't look past the Cowboys to their home showdown with BYU the following Saturday, in what, combined with BYU @ New Mexico tomorrow, could be the most anticipated MWC games of the season.
Air Force: The Falcons might have their best shot at a conference win on Saturday as they host a struggling Wyoming Cowboys squad. Air Force seems to have a lot of freshmen and sophomores on their roster, so any positives they can pull out of an otherwise lost season would seem to be a plus.