UNLV overcame Mike Moser's absence to win its first road game of the season, but it might need the junior forward for its next one.
The 21st-ranked Runnin' Rebels seek a fifth consecutive win Sunday when they visit a California team that's eager to bounce back from its first loss in seven games.
A re-aggravated hip injury forced Moser to sit out a game that was specifically scheduled for him, a visit to his hometown Portland on Tuesday, and one in which 130 friends and family were slated to attend. Without its honorable mention All-American and preseason all-Mountain West player, UNLV (6-1) trailed by nine points early in the second half before pulling out a 68-60 win and ending a four-game road losing streak that dated back to last season.
Freshman and leading scorer Anthony Bennett had a team-best 18 points. Anthony Marshall scored 16 after being held to single digits in back-to-back games and Justin Hawkins contributed 15 off the bench.
Moser, who is averaging 12.3 points and a team-high 9.2 rebounds, reportedly had an MRI come back negative Thursday, and he was optimistic for a return to the court Sunday. The junior forward suffered the injury in a 77-63 victory over Hawaii on Dec. 1, the last of UNLV's six consecutive games at the Thomas & Mack Center.
"I don't think it's something too serious," he said. "It's already feeling better."
Because of the annual Nationals Finals Rodeo, the Rebels won't return to their home arena until Dec. 19 but will play at the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas on Thursday against La Verne.
While Portland had a 3-3 record before facing UNLV, Cal will carry an identical 6-1 mark into this game. The Golden Bears, though, are coming off an 81-56 drubbing at Wisconsin last Sunday.
Allen Crabbe, one of the nation's leading scorers at 22.4 points per game, had 25 points in the loss but only one other player scored in double figures, junior guard Justin Cobbs with 11 points.
"The only thing I can hope is that we learn from this," coach Mike Montgomery said. "Kids are kids, and they don't always understand how hard you have to play to get wins."
Cobbs, who is averaging 18.7 points this season, had 20 in the Bears' most recent matchup with UNLV on Dec. 23 but Marshall scored 22 in an 85-68 victory for the then-No. 21 Rebels. Moser had 14 points and eight rebounds, while Crabbe missed nine of 13 shots en route to 13 points.
UNLV has won four of the five all-time meetings with Cal, including a 73-72 victory on Dec. 1, 2004, in its only visit to Berkeley.