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Rebels’ Jasper suffers knee injury

Just when it appeared Derrick Jasper was on the verge of finally getting comfortable on the basketball court again, the UNLV junior guard suffered what could be a major setback.

Jasper injured his left knee with 1:16 left in the first half of the Rebels’ 60-50 Mountain West Conference victory over Air Force on Tuesday at the Thomas & Mack Center. It was the same knee on which Jasper had microfracture surgery in 2007 when he was at Kentucky.

He did not return after being evaluated in the locker room at halftime. After the game, school officials said Jasper had a sprained knee and his status was unknown. He was scheduled to be re-evaluated this morning to assess the damage. UNLV doesn’t play again until Feb. 3 at Wyoming.

“He’ll get it looked at, and we’ll see,” UNLV coach Lon Kruger said. “He said it doesn’t feel good. It was one of those freak accidents. Everyone’s concerned for Derrick. He’s fought and rehabbed to get healthy. Let’s hope it’s not too serious.”

Jasper, who came into Tuesday’s game averaging 6.9 points and 4.9 rebounds, simply was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Air Force’s Tom Fow was driving to the basket late in the first half and ran over UNLV’s Matt Shaw.

Fow was called for a charge. But in the aftermath, an off-balance Shaw hit Jasper on his way down, and Jasper crumpled to the floor clutching at his knee.

The pain was evident in his face, as Jasper was in tears as he was helped off the court and to the locker room. He played 13 minutes and had three points, four rebounds and four assists.

Jasper played well on UNLV’s road trip last week that saw the Rebels beat Colorado State and Texas Christian. He was being more assertive with the ball and had nine rebounds in each game.

“I knew right away when I landed on him something wasn’t right,” Shaw said. “I know it’s not my fault, but I feel bad for him. I just hope it’s not serious.”

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