UW at Nevada men’s hoops: 3 keys, notes, quotes and video

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

AJ West

AJ West

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:


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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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