Here is my question-and-answer session with Chris Murray, who covers Nevada men’s basketball for the Reno Gazette-Journal, about Wednesday’s game with Wyoming.
Tip off is at 7 p.m. MT at the Arena-Auditorium in Laramie.
Follow on Twitter: @MurrayRGJ
It will have been 18 days since the last time Wyoming played Nevada — a 71-68 Nevada win in Reno. Has anything changed a lot with he Wolf Pack since that first game?
Well, Nevada still can’t shoot. The team ranked 350th out of 351 teams last year in 3-point shooting against Division-I opponents and sits at 339th in the nation this year. Nevada made 5-of-11 3-pointers against Wyoming in the first matchup, one of its best shooting efforts of the season. But this team struggles to score and its defense and rebounding has slipped since it lost AJ West, who also missed the first game. It’s basically the same Nevada team that is reliant on creating turnovers, scoring in transition and playing with pace. Nevada had a good offensive night in its win over Wyoming earlier this month and will need a repeat of that Wednesday to score the sweep.
What were some of your biggest takes from that first game from both teams?
I was shocked to see Nevada out-rebounded. Wyoming is not a good rebounding team and Nevada has really struggled on the glass the last month. The Wolf Pack out-rebounded its first 11 opponents and has been out-rebounded in five of its last six, including that Wyoming game. Nevada has won only one game in which it has been out-rebounded (Wyoming), so that’s a trend to watch. Nevada needs to have a win on the glass against the Cowboys. The Wolf Pack also turned Wyoming over 17 times in the first matchup, which is why it won the game. Nevada’s success largely hinges on its ability to create turnovers.
With two true road wins, what has been the biggest difference in Nevada’s play at home and on the road?
Quality of opponents plays a big part in it. Nevada’s six home wins were against two D-II schools, Drake (5-13), Santa Clara (7-13), Portland State (7-10) and Wyoming (10-9). That’s pretty soft. Nevada has played on the road at Hawaii, Wichita State, Oregon State and New Mexico, which are a combined 48-20. Like most teams, Nevada is better at home, but I think the big difference in the win-loss record at home versus the road is because of the opponents played. Nevada’s best game in the last couple of weeks actually came on the road at Air Force, an 86-63 win.
What are the biggest match-ups or keys in this game you will be most interested in?
Lindsey Drew versus Josh Adams is a big one. If you slow down Adams, you have a good chance of beating Wyoming. Nevada did an OK job in the first matchup. Adams scored 26 points on 8-of-19 shooting, but he had only two assists to four turnovers. Drew
is an under-weight freshman who has drawn the best scorer on the opposing team. He has a 6-10 wing span, which helps make things difficult for the person he’s guarding. Drew needs to keep Adams in check. And Nevada’s other freshman, Cameron Oliver, needs to stay out of foul trouble. He’s fouled out of three of the last six games and played just 19 minutes before fouling out of Nevada’s last contest. He can be a game-changer in the post, but he has to avoid fouls.
How do you see the game unfolding, and who wins?
I see it going down to the last couple of possessions. Whoever wins the battle of pace will win the game. Nevada wants to speed things up and will have to create turnovers to do so. If Wyoming keeps this game in the 60s, it will win. If Nevada gets it into the 70s, that’s a big plus. I’ll go with Wyoming scoring a close victory.
Cowboys game day
Game: Nevada (10-7 overall, 2-3 Mountain West) at Wyoming (10-9, 3-3)
When: 7 p.m. Wednesday
Where: Arena-Auditorium, Laramie
TV: Mountain West Network (online only)
Radio: KFBC (1240 AM) Cheyenne; KCGY (96.1 FM) Laramie
Tickets: UW Athletics Ticket Office, 877-996-3261 or gowyo.com