UW vs. Nevada basketball Q&A

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?

Chris Murray

Chris Murray

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.

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UW-Nevada men’s basketball Q&A

WyoSports senior editor Robert Gagliardi did a question-and-answer session with Chris Murray, who covers Nevada men’s basketball for the Reno Gazette-Journal, on Saturday’s game with the University of Wyoming.

Tip-off is at 4 p.m. at the Arena-Auditorium in Laramie, and the game will be televised on Root Sports.

Follow on Twitter: @MurrayRGJ

Chris Murray

Chris Murray

At 6-13 overall, 2-5 in the Mountain West and losers of five straight, what has been the biggest issues for Nevada’s struggles of late and much of the season?

Offense. This team simply can’t score. Getting to 60 points is a big achievement. The Wolf Pack was ranked last in the nation in 3-point shooting for most of January, but has perked up a little there in recent games. The team struggles with turnovers and has missed a lot of point-blank shots, leaving little margin for error in order to get wins. The defense, a big strength in nonconference action, has slid in a major way in Mountain West play. So, in short, other than rebounding, Nevada doesn’t have a lot of strengths to draw from and usually linger around 35 percent shooting from the floor, which makes it tough to win at any level.

 

There have been some bad losses, but this team also started 2-0 in league play and has shown it can play good basketball. When it plays well, what does it do well?

AJ West

AJ West

Nevada has won six games, but two were against non-Division I teams, two were against D-I cupcakes (Marshall, Air Force) and two were against average — at best — teams (Cal Poly and UNLV). So, the Wolf Pack doesn’t really have any quality wins to this point in the season, although it usually plays within a couple baskets of every team it faces. The team’s biggest strength when playing well is center AJ West, who leads the nation in offensive rebounds and also is a high-level rim protector. When Nevada plays well, it’s getting stops and getting into transition quickly. The Wolf Pack has some good athletes and needs to score in transition because it’s half-court offense is so limited.

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UW-Nevada Q&A

WyoSports senior editor Robert Gagliardi did a question-and-answer session with Chris Murray, who covers Nevada men’s basketball for the Reno Gazette-Journal.

Eight-seeded Wyoming (18-12 overall, 4-12 Mountain West) plays ninth-seeded Nevada (12-18, 3-13) at 6 p.m. today in the play-in game at the Mountain West Tournament at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas.

Question: How is the Wolf Pack in terms of its physical and mental states heading into the play-in game with Wyoming?

Answer: The Wolf Pack had a lull late in the year when it looked like it had given up on the season. That period included a 20-point loss at Wyoming and a 26-point loss at Boise State. The team is playing with much more vigor of late, but it has still dropped its past five games by double-digits. In recent seasons, the Wolf Pack’s energy has taken a nice step forward in conference tournament play, which is to be expected, and I think the same thing will happen this week. As far as injuries are concerned, starting wing play Jerry Evans Jr. (shooting wrist) missed the last game and is questionable, but I expect him to play.

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Tuesday’s UW football notes

Despite not having a game last week, Wyoming sophomore quarterback Brett Smith is sixth in the nation in pass efficiency (179.6), seventh in total offense (362.33 yards per game) and ninth in passing offense (328.3 ypg).

Smith is 141 yards of total offense shy of moving past former quarterback Randy Welniak, the current head of UW’s Cowboy Joe Club, into ninth place in career total offense. Smith has 4,419 and Welniak has 4,559.

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