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Wolf Pack basketball preview: Nevada takes on Nebraska in its final Golden Window Classic game

NCAA Basketball: Nevada at Boise State Brian Losness-USA TODAY Sports

The Nevada Wolf Pack (1-0) and the Nebraska Cornhuskers (1-0) battle on Thanksgiving Day at 11 a.m. PST. It will air on the Big Ten Network.

Thursday marks Nevada’s final game of its two-game slate in the Golden Window Classic. It will be Nebraska’s first, played on its homecourt in Pinnacle Bank Arena.

Both rosters underwent tremendous turnover this offseason.

Year one under Nebraska head coach Fred Hoiberg — who previously spent four seasons with the Chicago Bulls (2015-19) was a disaster. The team lost its final 17 games, finishing 7-25 with a dreadful 2-18 record in the Big Ten. Nebraska lost by an average of 14.6 points over the 17-game losing streak.

Eight Nebraska players departed, but eight transfers — seven of whom are active (Derrick Walker was suspended for 16 games) — were eligible to make their debuts along with two freshman.

Meanwhile, Nevada finished 19-12 with a 12-6 Mountain West conference record in the first season under head coach Steve Alford. Entering the 2019-20 season, Nevada lost seven of its top eight scorers — equating for nearly 86 percent of its scoring production.

Entering the 2020-21 season, the Pack are without their top four scorers and 80 percent of its total scoring production.

Production Nevada has lost

Entering the.... Points FG 3PFG Offensive rebounding Total rebounding Steals Blocks
Entering the.... Points FG 3PFG Offensive rebounding Total rebounding Steals Blocks
2019-20 season 85.7 percent (2,334-of-2,723 PTS) 86.6 percent (800-of-924 FG's) 75.1 percent (223-of-297 3PM's) 83.1 percent (271-of-325 ORB's) 86.3 percent (1100-of-1274 REBS) 90.5 percent (191-of-211 STLS 97 percent (130-of-134 BLKS)
2020-21 season 79.9 percent (1,911-of- 2,391 PTS) 83.1 percent (666-of-801 FG's) 82.5 percent (255 of 309 3PM's) 46.3 percent (126-of-272 ORB's) 59 percent (701-of-1,188 REBS) 78 percent (124-of-159 STLS) 53.2 percent (58-of-109 BLKS)

Nebraska cruised to a 102-55 victory over McNeese State in its season-opener Wednesday. Its 47-point margin of victory is by far the largest since Hoiberg arrived — the second-highest being 21 points versus Texas A&M-Corpus Christi on Dec. 29, 2019.

The Wolf Pack are coming off a 62-48 victory over the North Dakota State Bison. It was the fewest points allowed since it allowed 44 against San Jose State during the WAC Tournament in 2012.

Nevada (1-0) vs. Nebraska (1-0)

When: Thursday, Nov. 26 at 11 a.m. PST

Where: Pinnacle Bank Arena in Lincoln, Neb.

TV: Big Ten Network

Online: Fox Sports Go

Spread: Nebraska -5

Matchup History: First ever meeting

Breakdown:

Nebraska head coach Fred Hoiberg is a pioneer of the philosophy that Eric Musselman adopted at Nevada: load the roster with transfers.

Four of Nebraska’s starters against McNeese State — Dalano Banton (Western Kentucky), Teddy Allen (West Virginia/Wichita State), Lat Mayen (TCU) and Trey McGowens (Pittsburgh) — were all Division-I transfers. That doesn’t include Kobe Webster (Western Illinois) and former Nevada player Shamiel Stevenson, who both saw 22-plus minutes of action.

Against McNeese State, six players recorded double figure scoring. Allen, Banton, McGowens and Mayen posted 14 points apiece.

McGowens, the first five-star player to put on a Cornhusker uniform in program history, shot 5-of-9 from the floor, including a perfect 2-of-2 from deep. Allen went 6-of-10 from the floor with five rebounds. Last year in junior college, Allen placed atop the NJCAA rankings in scoring with 31.4 points per game.

NCAA Basketball: ACC Tournament-North Carolina State vs Pittsburgh
Pittsburgh Panthers guard Trey McGowens (2) shoots the ball against North Carolina State Wolfpack guard Braxton Beverly (10).
Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

Banton, listed at 6-foot-8, tied a team-high with eight rebounds, though he led the team in assists (6) and blocks (4).

Stevenson shot a perfect 4-of-4 from the floor, adding six rebounds (three offensive). He transferred midseason to Nevada in Dec. of 2018 before transferring to Nebraska in May of 2019.

It’s obvious looking at its final score versus McNeese State, but I am going to point it out anyway: Nebraska was dominant in all facets of the game.

The Cornhuskers shot 50.0 percent from the floor and netted 41.7 percent of their 3-pointers. They had 43 points off 27 Cowboy turnovers, totaled 29 fast break points and out-rebounded them by 10 (45 to 35).

With just two scholarship upperclassmen, the Wolf Pack felt the absence of its top four scorers from last year, who all graduated or turned pro.

They struggled to shoot the ball, hitting just 38.3 percent of their from the floor and 34.9 percent on 2-pointers. The effort was present defensively. Nevada held the Bison to 29.1 percent shooting and 28.6 percent from the 3-point line. It forced 16 turnovers that translated to 17 points.

Despite not possessing a lot of length, the connectivity and effort defensively was noticeable in the opening contest — the side of the ball that Alford has harped on for necessary improvement throughout the offseason.

Two new faces finished atop the Wolf Pack in scoring in their first career games: Wichita State transfer Grant Sherfield and true freshman Tre Coleman.

Sherfield had 14 points on 5-of-14 shooting and Coleman, who saw 24 minutes due to foul trouble from Desmond Cambridge, had 13 points on a perfect 5-of-5 shooting (with three 3-pointers). The 6-foot-7 wing also recorded three steals and a block. Cambridge had just eight points in 19 minutes.

Robby Robinson came off the bench for the first time in his Nevada career, totaling a team-high ten rebounds. K.J. Hymes had 11 points and hit his third career 3-point basket on the afternoon.

Projected Starters:

No. 5 Nevada Wolf Pack (16-9, 10-7)

Position Number Name Class Height PPG RPG APG FG% 3P%
Position Number Name Class Height PPG RPG APG FG% 3P%
G 25 Grant Sherfield Soph. 6-2 18.3 3.7 6.1 43.5 36.9
G 4 Desmond Cambridge Jr. 6-4 16.3 4.4 2.4 41.6 35.4
G 14 Tre Coleman Fr. 6-7 5.7 3.0 1.8 42.5 37.1
F 20 Daniel Foster Fr. 6-6 4.3 2.6 1.5 48.6 45.5
F 5 Warren Washington Soph. 7-0 9.6 5.8 0.8 57.4 ------ (0-1)

Nebraska Cornhuskers (1-0)

Number Position Name Class Height PPG RPG APG FG% 3P%
Number Position Name Class Height PPG RPG APG FG% 3P%
2 G Trey McGowens Jr. 6-4 14.0 3.0 3.0 55.6% (5-9) 100% (2-2)
0 G Teddy Allen Jr. 6-5 14.0 5.0 2.0 60% (6-10) 50% (1-2)
45 G Dalano Banton Soph. 6-8 14.0 6.0 6.0 57.1% (4-7) 0% (0-2)
34 G Thorir Thorbjarnarson Sr. 6-6 8.0 2.0 1.0 33.3% (3-9) 40% (2-5)
11 F Lat Mayen Jr. 6-9 13.0 6.0 1.0 45.5% (5-11) 42.9 (3-7)

Prediction:

  • Nebraska: 75
  • Nevada: 67

This is a much more daunting opponent for the Wolf Pack. North Dakota State ranked No. 294 in BPI, Nebraska ranks No. 98; North Dakota State placed No. 187 in Ken Pom’s rankings, Nebraska ranked No. 108. Nebraska have played up-tempo under Hoiberg, ranking T-16 in adjusted tempo despite finishing T-187 in offensive efficiency. The Cornhuskers are long — five players who played 15-plus minutes are 6-foot-6 or taller) and versatile defensively. They could impose their will with that length, which helped cause 27 turnovers Wednesday. Nevada must take care of the basketball, crash the glass and pick it up offensively in order to win this game. Season record: 1-0

Additional links:

Live Stats: https://bit.ly/366TPDC

Fox Sports Go Stream: https://foxs.pt/363YDtn