Massamba giving Rice inside option at crucial times

On a squad with talented go-to guys such as Mike Moser, Chace Stanback and Anthony Marshall, you might think it’s difficult for UNLV coach Dave Rice to decide which player he wants to have the ball with the game on the line. Actually, it isn’t. But it probably isn’t who you think it is.

Rice has shown a tremendous amount of trust in senior center Brice Massamba, who averages just 5.6 points in 18 minutes per game but also has been a focal point of the offense during crunch time.

In the closing minutes at San Diego State on Jan. 14, Massamba scored a pair of tough buckets, along with being fouled and knocking down a free throw to tie the game before the Aztecs won at the buzzer, 69-67.

Rice says Massamba’s 66 percent shooting from the field and his decision-making ability in hostile environments make him a viable option when the Rebels need a late bucket.

“It’s very important for us to (go inside to him) on the road,” Rice said. “To have a guy like Brice, that we can trust, is a good thing for us.”

Some observers knock Massamba for his inability to play above the rim, and for his poor shooting from the free-throw line (54 percent this season), but he has the confidence of his coach—and that’s really all that matters.

“I trust him,” Rice said. “I like the way our offense looks (with the ball in his hands). I like the spacing and the way we share the ball when we play through the post.”