It will be another homecoming of sorts for Mike Moser Saturday night at Boise State.
The junior forward from Portland, who also has relatives in the Boise area, said that he will have about 30 friends and family, many who will make the six-hour drive from Oregon, in attendance when UNLV (17-4, 4-2) faces the Broncos (14-6, 2-4) at Taco Bell Arena (Time Warner Cable, 6 p.m.).
And just like last year Moser won’t be close to 100 percent healthy.
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A year ago Moser was very questionable for the game with a case of the flu. But he not only played, he responded with one of his finest games as a Rebel, scoring 18 points, grabbing a career-high 21 rebounds and hitting several key shots in UNLV’s 77-72 overtime victory.
This time around Moser will be playing with a heavily bandaged right elbow thanks to an ugly dislocation suffered during a Dec. 9 win at Cal. At the time many wondered if Moser would even play again this season but he was back less than three weeks later for a game at North Carolina.
Moser sat out two more games after the loss to the Tar Heels. He has played in all six games since but its clear he isn’t close to being anywhere near 100 percent again. Still, he continues to gut it out.
“It’s still bothering me a lot,” Moser said at practice Thursday. “It’s just a process. It’s getting better day by day.”
Moser, a double-double machine a year ago, has scored in double figures just once since he suffered the injury, finishing with 14 points and 11 rebounds in a 76-71 overtime win over Air Force on Jan. 12. But UNLV coach Dave Rice says Moser’s leadership on and off the court can’t be measured.
“He’s still a huge factor in what we’re doing,” Rice said.
Moser was asked if he may need to have surgery on the elbow eventually.
“I don’t know about surgery,” he said. “I’m just glad to be able to wake and play basketball right now.”
Moser is looking forward to having his own rooting section again Saturday night.
“Hopefully we can make it a little less nerve-wracking this time around,” he said with a smile.