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Nevada vs. Wyoming preview: Pokes' conference title hopes remain on the line

Wyoming is in a win-out-or-go-home scenario after it fell to Utah State earlier this week. It should rebound against visiting Nevada on Saturday.

Wyoming faces Nevada in must-win game Saturday.
Wyoming faces Nevada in must-win game Saturday.
Troy Babbitt-USA TODAY Sports

Wyoming (17-4) cannot afford to lose another Mountain West game this season, if it wants to win a conference title and enter the postseason playing its best basketball.

Tuesday's loss to Utah State extended Wyoming's road losing streak to the Aggies by another season.

Wyoming hasn't won a game in Logan, Utah, since 1975, but more importantly, the loss dropped Wyoming to 6-2 in conference and created a two-way tie for first place with San Diego State.

To make matters worse for the Pokes, Utah State's win created a five-way tie for second place, as Colorado State, Boise State, New Mexico, Utah State and Fresno State are all vying to jump into first place by season's end.

A Pokes' loss would be detrimental and more than likely eliminate them from conference-title contention.

Luckily for them, they shouldn't be tested too much against visiting Nevada (6-13, 2-5) on Saturday.

Aside from an upset win over host UNLV and a few respectable wins against mid-majors, the Wolf Pack hasn't shown an ability to hang with the Mountain West elite (e.g. CSU beat Nevada 98-42 two weeks ago).

Playing in a down game Tuesday, Wyoming's Larry Nance Jr. still scored 14 points against the Aggies to extend his double-figure scoring streak to nine consecutive games. If the Mountain West Preseason Player of the Year can get back on schedule, Nevada should have a tough time defending him.

Wyoming's Riley Grabau shined Tuesday, nailing five 3-pointers and finishing with 16 points for a career night for the senior guard. Any added contribution from him, Derek Cooke Jr. and Charles Hankerson Jr. will help the Pokes on Saturday.

Nevada enters the matchup with AJ West on a tear of his own. The junior forward has recorded eight double-doubles this season and most recently scored 15 points and pulled down 15 rebounds against the talent-laden Runnin' Rebels. Stopping West will be priority No. 1 for the Cowboys.

Expect Wyoming to garner a quick lead and rest its starters in the second half, as the Pokes have a tough home game against CSU upcoming next week.

Wyoming leads Nevada 11-2 (6-1 at home) in the all-time series.