The Nevada Wolf Pack will travel south to Sin City to face off against their in-state rivals, the UNLV Runnin’ Rebels on Saturday afternoon.
The Wolf Pack are coming off a hard fought 85-77 victory over Boise State on Wednesday night in Reno. The win moved Nevada into a first-place tie with Colorado State in the Mountain West standings but before they face off against the Rams on March 4th, the Wolf Pack must deal with the lowly Rebels (and then San Jose State on March 1st)
“Our approach to the next two road games can’t change”, said Nevada head coach Eric Musselman after the win on Wednesday night. “We have to be ready to play. Every road game is difficult. We have to play with a desperation on both ends of the floor on the road.”
One thing Nevada must look out for is that they cannot afford a letdown against a terrible UNLV team. The Rebels are in the midst of their worst season since the school started playing basketball back in 1958. They are on an eight-game losing streak and are coming off a 23-point loss on the road to an equally terrible Air Force squad this week. Yet, despite UNLV keeping residence at the bottom of the conference standings, don’t expect the Wolf Pack to look past the Rebels.
“I’m worried about every game”, Musselman said this week. “In the Mountain West, it’s hard to win on the road. Every team plays desperate. Teams are trying to get momentum heading into the Mountain West Tournament.”
For the Wolf Pack to avoid the letdown against UNLV, is that they must limit the Rebels to only one shot. UNLV is not a good team obviously but they are good at attacking the offensive glass. UNLV leads the conference in offensive rebounds (averaging 11.9 rebounds a game) so it is imperative for Cameron Oliver, Jordan Caroline and company to crash the glass when UNLV misses a shot and that may be a given since the Rebels are last in the conference at field goal percentage (37.2 percent)
Nevada must also stop the Rebels top player which is guard Jovan Mooring. Mooring is the team’s top scorer as he is averaging close to 13 points per game and the top three-point maker as he has hit 48 threes this season with the Rebels. Mooring did have a good game in the first meeting against the Wolf Pack as he scored 20 points in the losing effort. So, it is important for Nevada to key in on Mooring on the defensive end and not let him get going on offense.
In the first meeting, the Wolf Pack completely dominated the Rebels in Reno and all signs point to this second meeting between the Silver State rivals being much more of the same. Clearly, the Wolf Pack are on letdown alert after a gritty win against Boise State on Wednesday and Nevada is only 8-34 all-time against the Rebels in Las Vegas. But this Wolf Pack team is so much more talented than UNLV this season and the Rebels are last statistically in the conference in most of the major categories (scoring offense, scoring defense, field goal shooting) to name a few so I see the Wolf Pack easily defeating the Rebels on Saturday.
When: Saturday at 3pm
Where: Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas, Nevada
TV/Radio: CBS Sports Network/94.5