The Nevada Wolf Pack face the Utah State Aggies at home, and look to remain 4-0 in conference play. The Aggies on the other hand consider themselves a front-runner for the conference title in their first year in the Mountain West, and must back that up with a road win versus the Pack. These old WAC rivals are both new to the conference, with Nevada having one year of experience in the MWC and this being Utah State's first year.
Nevada is in an unfamiliar situation being on top of the standings in this new conference. Last year the Wolf Pack had only three total wins in conference and have already matched that total this year. The Wolf Pack now have a record of 8-8, and are 3-0 in conference play. The Aggies are sitting at 1-1 in conference and 11-3 overall.
The key to stopping Utah State is two fold. One Nevada must key in on defending the three-point line, which they have struggled with this year. Utah State is one of the best shooting teams in the nation, shooting 41.3% from the three-point line. The Wolf Pack guards must close out hard on shooters, which is easier said then done, especially because Utah State shares the ball so well, averaging 18.4 assists per game, good for 5th in the nation. The other key is stopping senior center Jarred Shaw who is averaging 15.0ppg, 7.9rpg, and 1.3apg. Shaw, who will be playing his third game since being reinstated from suspension, finishes effectively around the rim and shoots free throws at a high percentage. Nevada's AJ West will have his hands full with Shaw.
The key to stopping Nevada is much more simple. Try and contain senior guard Deonte Burton. Burton, who leads the nation in minutes played, is having a monster of a year, averaging 22.3ppg, 3.9rpg, and 3.7apg. Burton can score in just about any way, but is at his best driving to the basket and looking to finish. For the Aggies they must attempt to make someone else, like Michael Perez or Cole Huff, beat them. If Burton gets into foul trouble Nevada will undoubtedly struggle.
Either way, this game should be close, so be sure to tune in here on mwcconnection.com.