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Wolf Pack basketball preview: Nevada hosts Pacific in first home contest of year

NCAA Basketball: Golden Window Classic-Nevada at Nebraska Bruce Thorson-USA TODAY Sports

The Nevada Wolf Pack hosts its first home contest of the season against the Pacific Tigers in Lawlor Events Center at 6 p.m. PST on the Mountain West Network.

Nevada is coming off two straight victories in the Golden Window Classic versus North Dakota State and Nebraska. The latter portion involved a game-winning 3-pointer by Grant Sherfield with 6.8 seconds remaining, earning the come-from-behind 69-66 victory over the Cornhuskers.

The Wolf Pack entered the 2020-21 without five of their top six scorers from last year. They went 19-12 with a 12-6 Mountain West Conference record, whereas Pacific is coming off a 23-10 season with an 11-5 West Coast Conference record.

Three of their five conference losses came to either Gonzaga or Saint Mary’s — the two best teams in the conference last season.

After being up by as much as 17 in the game, the Tigers earned a 66-60 win in their season opener over UC Riverside last Wednesday. Jeremiah Bailey totaled a game high 25 points on 7-of-11 shooting, knocking down four threes.

Pacific was originally supposed to play Mountain West’s own Fresno State on Saturday, but the game was postponed after a delay of COVID-testing results coming in from Pacific.

As of the time of posting, the contest between the Wolf Pack and Pacific is supposed to take place.

Nevada (2-0) vs. Pacific (1-0)

When: Monday, Nov. 30 at 6 p.m. PST

Where: Lawlor Events Center in Reno, Nev.

TV: None

Online: Mountain West Network

Matchup History: Pacific leads 55-49

Last matchup: Nevada won 83-61 (Nov. 9, 2018)

Breakdown:

The Tigers graduated the West Coast Conference Defensive Player of the Year Jahlil Tripp. He averaged team highs in points (16.2 ppg), rebounds (8.9) and blocks per game (1.5 bpg) in the 2019-20 campaign.

Its top returning scorer is Justin Moore. Last year, he averaged 8.1 points on 39.8 percent shooting, including 39.2 shooting from beyond the arc. Moore, after starting in 24 of the 28 games last year, did not start versus UC Riverside — totaling five points, three rebounds and a steal in 11 minutes.

Pacific shot 44.4 percent from the floor, including 38.5 percent on 13 attempts against UC Riverside. The Highlanders netted 45.8 percent of its shot but a lowly 20.0 percent of its 3-point attempts.

NCAA Basketball: West Coast Conference Tournament-Pacific vs San Francisco
Pacific Tigers guard Justin Moore (25) dribbles the basketball against San Francisco Dons center Jimbo Lull (5).
Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Two other players — both starters — tallied double-digit scoring in its season opener. Pierre Crockrell II totaled 10 points on 4-of-7 shooting, while Daniss Jenkins had ten points on 4-of-13 shooting.

Starting in 23 of the 32 total games last year, Jenkins averaged 6.2 points on 33.8 percent shooting. Crockrell II started in just nine contests, averaging just 4.3 points and 3.3 assists on the year. In his nine starts, he averaged 5.0 points and 3.4 assists in 24.2 minutes per contest.

The Tigers welcome in forward Jordan Bell, who transferred from WCC foe Loyola Marymount. He averaged 7.1 points and 4.6 rebounds in 22.3 minutes per game last year. In 20 minutes versus UC Riverside, he had five points and two rebounds.

The Wolf Pack have shot 42.7 percent with a 36.8 3-point percentage in its opening two games. Their defense has held opponents to just 29.1 percent shooting — seventh-best in the nation.

Sherfield is averaging a team-high 16.5 points and 5.0 assists per contest. The former Wichita State transfer has led the team in scoring in both of the team’s first two games, shooting 33.3 percent and 50.0 percent from 3-point range.

Desmond Cambridge is second on the team with 13.0 points, totaling four rebounds in 26.5 minutes per game. He has netted just four of his 16 3-point attempts (a 25 percent clip), 10 more 3-point attempts than anyone else on the team.

True freshman Tre Coleman has provided a three-and-D spark off the bench, tying Cambridge for the second-most minutes played. Cambridge is averaging 9.5 points with two steals and a block per contest. His lone miss on eight attempts came on a corner three last game against Nebraska.

Robby Robinson, who started in all 31 games last year, has come off the bench through the first two games. It is unclear if that trend will continue, as Alford has talked about experimenting with different lineups. Robinson has been a menace defensively and on the glass — hauling down a team-high 9.5 rebounds (including 2.5 offensive rebounds) in just 22.5 minutes per contest.

Projected Starting Lineups:

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)

San Francisco Dons (2-2)

Position Number Name Class Height PPG RPG APG FG% 3P%
Position Number Name Class Height PPG RPG APG FG% 3P%
G 0 Khalil Shabazz Jr. 6-1 16.3 3.0 0.8 35.5% 31.3%
G 1 Jamaree Bouyea Sr. 6-2 19.0 3.0 5.3 51.9% 35.0%
G 11 Damari Milstead Jr. 6-2 5.3 3.0 1.8 29.2% 30.0%
F 34 Taavi Jurkatamm Sr. 6-9 6.0 3.5 2.3 34.5% 27.3%
C 43 Samba Kane Jr. 7-0 3.5 4.3 0.3 60.0 -----

Prediction:

  • Nevada: 66
  • Pacific: 57

This will be the first game at Lawlor Events Center in this young season, though there will be no fans. The Pack are coming off two victories away from home. This is a young team that seemed to develop confidence over its first two games in Nebraska. Bailey, who had 25 points in the team’s opener, could provide problems for the Wolf Pack back court. I still think the Pack’s defense holds out strong and climb out on top. Season record: 1-1