UNLV's exhibition loss to Dixie State wasn't the only concern Rebel fans had on Friday night, as junior guard Bryce Dejean-Jones went down nine minutes in with a hamstring injury. Although head coach Dave Rice wasn't too optimistic about his status after the game, Monday provided a bit of relief when Rice told ESPN reporters that Dejean-Jones has a strained hamstring.
The injury kept him sidelined on Tuesday's 72-67 exhibition win over Adams State, but the injury doesn't appear long term with his status currently questionable for the regular season opener Friday night. Junior center Khem Birch also sat out on Tuesday for precautionary reasons, but Dave Rice expects him to start against Portland State after nursing left ankle and toe injuries he suffered against Dixie State.
With Dejean-Jones and Birch out of the lineup it was difficult to get grasp of what the Rebels will look like at full strength during the regular season. Fresno State transfer Kevin Olekaibe started in place of Dejean-Jones Tuesday night and offered solid production going 5 of 17 with 17 points including four from three-point range.
Dave Rice is fully aware Rebels are not a finished product knows there is a lot more potential with Dejean-Jones and Birch in the lineup:
"There's more room for improvement when you throw Khem and Bryce into the mix. Bryce may play on Friday, I just don't know yet."
While it's important not to rush Bryce Dejean-Jones back into the lineup, the production he provided the Rebels last season is something they can't be without. Even if he doesn't start this Friday night at the Thomas and Mack Center, UNLV is just grateful this didn't turn out to be a long term injury.