The Wolf Pack went to Taco Bell Arena looking to sweep the Boise State Bronco’s. Nevada went in and left no doubt who the best team in the Mountain West is. I wrote that there were three keys to victory for Nevada before the game. Nevada accomplished each of them.
Nevada didn’t out rebound the Bronco’s but they only came up two short to an excellent rebounding team. The second factor was to be able to shoot the three well, which they did, by hitting seven of sixteen shots for almost forty-four percent. Kendall Stephens hit for six of eight from distance and ended up with twenty-one points for the night.
I wrote that Nevada also needed to keep a very good BSU team from having a good night shooting the three and to specifically target Lexus Williams and Justinian Jessup the two BSU marksmen were held to five of seventeen from distance and the team shot just five for twenty-six for a meager nineteen percent.
The last thing I said they needed to do was to keep the crowd out of it which they did answering every BSU run. In the post game interview Pack assistant coach Anthony Ruta mentioned that their staff had three keys to victory too, the difference from my three keys was they focused on shutting down Chandler Hutchinson and they did a fine job of that denting his MVP case a bit. Chandler was just four for fourteen from the field for thirteen points but he did have ten rebounds, six assists, four steals, and two blocks. He had an excellent all around game but Nevada accomplished their mission of making him have a tough shooting night. While Hutchinson’s MVP case took a hit Nevada’s Caleb Martin’s case just got strengthened.
Caleb Martin who had been in a walking boot and did not practice this week to let his isfranc sprain in his left foot heal was questionable to play Wednesday. Coach Musselman said that it would be a game time decision if Martin would play and play he did. He made nine of eighteen shots and ended up with twenty-one points in thirty-four pain filled minutes. Martin is Nevada tough.
Not all of the news coming out of Boise was good news through for Nevada because Lindsay Drew was injured in the first half and did not play the rest of the night and it looks like it could be a serious injury. If it is that will be a big blow for the for the Pack because Drew is a dynamic two way player. The mantra for Nevada is next man up if he can’t play Saturday in Logan, Iowa State transfer Hallice Cooke will see more minutes. So the Utah State Aggie’s are up next. Nevada is nine and two on the road this year.
The Aggie’s played New Mexico tough for most of the game but they could not keep up with the Hobo’s at the Pitt losing 78-63. USU shot the ball very well but they wilted under the Lobo’s unrelenting pressure, losing twenty-three turnovers. No matter how good you shoot the ball when you give the home team thirty-four more shots there is really no way your going to win.
Magpies three keys for Nevada to win on Saturday in Logan.
1. Nevada must contain Kobe McEwen and limit the Aggie’s dynamic point guard access to the paint. When McEwen is held to under twenty points the Aggie’s lose. McEwen had ten points in twenty-four minutes
2. The Spectrum is one of the toughest places to play because they have one of the most engaged student sections in the conference. This place can really get rolling and the Aggie’s feed off of that energy once again Nevada must have answers at the momentum changing times. Keep the crowd out of it.
3. USU is an outstanding shooting team. Sam Merrill isn’t the most athletic player in the conference but he may be the best shooter in the conference. He has a very quick release, excellent court vision, he scan score in the post, he likes to go to the rack and is a very good passer when going to the hole. He will drive, stop and pop, if he gets rolling the Spectrum will get rocking so Nevada must try to deny him the ball since he isn’t the most athletic guy, I say make him work real hard to get open looks. Merrill likes to come off screens to shoot so work over the top of screens and deny him the ball. If Nevada can do that they should be able to leave Logan with another road win.