Here are my three keys for the Wyoming men’s basketball team for its game tonight at Nevada. Tip time is 8 p.m. MT from the Lawlor Events Center, and the game will be televised online only by the Mountain West Digital Network.
1. Crash the boards: Nevada can really rebound, especially on the offensive glass. UW must not allow the Wolf Pack to get second and third chances at shots. That won’t be
easy without senior forward Larry Nance Jr. (mono), and the fact Nevada has one of the best rebounders and big men in the Mountain West in junior AJ West — one of 18 players in the nation to average a double-double (12.6 ppg, 10.4 rpg). The Cowboys won the rebounding battle with Nevada in their 63-55 win Jan. 31 in Laramie as they held a 34-24 edge and 12-9 on the offensive glass. If they can do that again, or even stay even, that would be a huge advantage for the Pokes. Nevada enters the game fifth in the nation with 15.3 offensive rebounds per game.
“West is one of the better players in the conference. Controlling and limiting him and his opportunities, along with a lot of their other guys are going to be critical in the game,” UW senior guard Charles Hankerson Jr. said.
Here is my preview video on the game:
2. Good guard play: UW’s guards played well in its 77-60 home win over San Jose State. But, that was 2-22 San Jose State. Nevada may be 8-16 but it is a much better team with bigger and more athletic guards. The Cowboys want to push the tempo more, which is fine as long as the turnovers don’t come with it. They had only seven against San Jose State. UW’s guards must make good decisions with the ball, and also do a good job defending Nevada’s guards, who will probably look to do the same thing against them.
3. Derek Cooke Jr.: UW’s senior forward had a double-double against Nevada last month, and his play surprised many of the Wolf Pack’s players and coaches. Cooke needs a similar effort tonight. He must do a good job against West, especially fronting him. He also must stay out of foul trouble. It helps that the Cowboys have redshirt freshman Alan Herndon back, and he too must play well. But it starts with Cooke.
A few other notes and quotes on tonight’s game:
— “I’m not overly concerned with that. He communicates with our medical staff on a daily basis and he seems to be improving each day. He gave us really good moments, especially in the second half (against San Jose State) and hopefully he’ll be able to do that Tuesday.” — UW coach Larry Shyatt on the play of Herndon and his recovery from mono.