In a year that was hyped before it even began for the No. 20-ranked UNLV Runnin' Rebels basketball team, their season hit a major bump in the road with star forward Mike Moser sidelined with a dislocated elbow.
The injury could have been far worse after the gruesome accident early on in UNLV's 76-75 win over the California Golden Bears in Berkley, Calif. Moser will miss about a month (per the Las Vegas Sun) as his elbow heals, but his absence doesn't automatically mean the Rebels will struggle in the meantime.
Moser is UNLV's co-leader in rebounds, with freshman phenom Anthony Bennett, at 8.3 per contest. He is the team's third leading scorer, netting 10.3 points per game.
With the Rebels having six players averaging nine points or better on the season, there should be a UNLV player who steps up the scoring.
Bennett is averaging 19.5 points so far this year and has shot 55 percent from the field. With the consistency he has shown early on this season, he is one player who should be counted on each game with or without Moser.
USC transfer Bryce Dejean-Jones got off to a slow start in his inaugural season with the Rebels. He sat out all of last season after transferring at the end of the 2010-11 season.
Dejean-Jones stepped up in a big way when Moser went down against Cal, posting a 22-point effort. If Dejean-Jones can put up numbers anywhere near his effort against Cal, then the Rebels will be have to worry that much less about Moser's absence on offense.
Senior guard Justin Hawkins is also a player who can put up points when the Rebels are in need of some help on the offensive side of the ball. Averaging nine points a game this year, Hawkins has had scoring outputs of 16, 15 and 12 this season, making him a key player in Moser's absence in the scoring department.
Freshman sharpshooting guard Katin Reinhardt is another UNLV player who could help fill the scoring void. Although Reinhardt is in somewhat of a slump at the moment—shooting 3-of-17 in his last two games—he has a great shooting touch.
Reinhardt has had five double-digit scoring nights, with 18 points being his season and career high thus far.
On the rebounding side of the ball, UNLV has more than a few talented players ready to crash the boards with Moser out of the equation.
Senior forward Quintrell Thomas is a powerful post player who will see a bump in his minutes while Moser heals. Thomas has had two games with nine-rebound efforts this season and is UNLV's third leading rebounder at 5.4 boards a game.
UNLV will get a big boost that could take up some of Moser's slack in his absence, as former McDonald's All-American Khem Birch becomes eligible for the Rebels game at UTEP on Dec. 17.
Birch will take some time to adjust to game play, but he should be counted on being a rebounding presence right away for UNLV.
Savon Goodman and Dejean-Jones are also key players that can help possible rebounding deficiencies left by Moser. Both have shown flashes of strong rebounding so far this season.
Another player who could prove his worth this season as Moser sits is junior forward Carlos Lopez-Sosa. Once a fan favorite, Lopez-Sosa has had slow start to his 2012-13 season and could win fans back by stepping up in Moser's month-long hiatus.
With UNLV missing a key piece to its plans of a strong season with deep postseason hopes, don't expect the Rebels to miss a beat with the depth they have this season.
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