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Wolf Pack Preview: Nevada Basketball seeks season sweep over Boise State on Saturday

Nevada Athletics Department

Nevada (13-9, 6-4) vs. Boise State (14-8, 6-4)

When: Saturday, Feb. 1 at 7 p.m. PST

Where: ExtraMile Arena in Boise, Idaho


Matchup Series: Nevada leads 48-27


Nevada men’s basketball closes its two-game road trip versus the Boise State Broncos (14-8, 6-4) Saturday at ExtraMile Arena.

Nevada defeated Boise State 83-66 in its first meeting of the season behind Jazz Johnson’s career evening. He set new career-highs in points (34), field goal makes (13), 3-point makes (8) and rebounds (7) in the winning effort.

Both teams are in a four-way tie for third place in the Mountain West at 6-4. The Wolf Pack have won the last eight meetings between the two foes. Nevada is 10-6 versus Boise State since joining the Mountain West prior to the 2012-13 season.

Nevada is 1-6 (.143) on the road, while Boise State is 10-1 (.909) at home this season.

Boise State sits atop the conference — T-22 nationally — in scoring at 79.3 points per game. The Broncos are fourth in the conference in shooting percentage (.464) and 3-point percentage (.361).

They have attempted made more free throws (368) than their opponent has attempted (353). Boise State ranks No. 9 nationally in free throw makes and No. 21 in free throw attempts (492) — the Wolf Pack needs to keep Boise State away from the stripe in order to win this game.

Boise State rides a three-game win streak heading into Saturday, outscoring its opponents by an average of 22.3 points per game in that stretch.

The Broncos are coming off a 99-81 victory over the San Jose State Spartans. Derrick Alston Jr. led Boise State with 27 points on 9-for-12 shooting, netting 6-of-8 from beyond the arc.

Alston is tied for the conference-lead with Nevada’s Jalen Harris in scoring at 19.5 points per game. Alston is shooting 44.3 percent from the floor and 37.2 percent from 3-point range.

NCAA Basketball: Boise State at Air Force
Boise State’s Derrick Alston Jr. (21) is tied for the conference-lead in scoring at 19.5 points per game.
Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

The 6-foot-8 wing is the only player in the Mountain West and one of four players in the nation with 130-plus field goals, 50-plus 3-point field goals and 100-plus free throw makes this season. Alston leads the team in assists (3.2 apg) and is second in rebounding (5.3 rpg).

Justinian Jessup (15.3 ppg), Abu Kigab (13.7 ppg) and Roderick “RJ” Williams (12.0 ppg) are the remaining double-digit scorers for the Broncos.

Jessup’s 67 3-point baskets and 3.0 3-pointers per game both rank as the second-best in the conference, only trailing Johnson in both categories. Jessup is averaging 17.4 points per game in 10 conference games.

The 6-foot-6 guard has canned 41.2 percent of his shots and 39.6 percent from deep. Jessup leads the team in steals (1.3 spg), while being third on the team in rebounding (4.4 rpg) and assists (2.0).

Kigab has been a quality starter for the Broncos since becoming eligible over Christmas break, averaging 13.7 points in 12 games. He is shooting 45.7 percent, including 41.9 percent from beyond the arc.

Williams, who was recently inserted back into the starting lineup after beginning the season there, has been a force inside. He leads the team with 8.2 rebounds in only 22.7 minutes per game. In the 12 games Williams has started, he is averaging 13.6 points and 8.6 rebounds in 24.7 minutes per contest.

The Wolf Pack are fourth in the conference in scoring at 76.2 points per game. They average a conference-best 78.4 points in 10 conference games. The Pack sport the 5th-worst field goal percentage at 43.9 percent, but are netting a conference-best 39.3 percent of their 3-point shots — T-8 best in the nation.

Nevada is coming off a heartbreaking 92-91 defeat to Colorado State, capped-off by a buzzer-beating jumper from CSU’s Isaiah Stevens. That spoiled a 31-point performance from Harris — his third 31-point game on the season — with a team-high seven assists. He shot 12-of-24 from the field, including 3-of-7 from 3-point range.

Harris leads the team and is tied for the conference lead at 19.5 points per game. He has scored double figures in 18 consecutive games, tallying 20.9 points on 46.7 percent shooting in that span.

The 6-foot-5 guard is averaging a conference-best 23.4 points, shooting 49.4 percent and 43.3 percent from 3-point range in 10 conference games. He leads the conference in field goals (84) and is fifth in 3-point makes (29) — one behind Johnson — in conference play.

Harris is second on the team in rebounding (6.1 rpg), assists (4.2 apg) and steals per game (1.1 spg).

Johnson is second on the team in scoring at 16.3 points per game. He is shooting an efficient 42.3 percent from beyond the arc, trailing SDSU’s Jordan Schakel for best in the conference (minimum 100 3-point attempts).

The sharpshooter leads the conference in 3-point makes (71) and 3-point makes per game (3.2). He ranks within the Top-15 in the nation in both categories.

Lindsey Drew rounds out the double-digit Pack scorers on 11.8 points per game. Drew is shooting 48.3 percent and 39.8 percent from beyond the arc. Drew leads the team in rebounding (6.3 rpg), assists (4.4 apg) and steals per game (1.3 spg).

Drew and Harris are the only two players in the conference to average at least 11.5 points, 6.0 rebounds and 4.0 assists per game.

Projected Lineups:


Boise State:

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The Wolf Pack look to move to 14-9 on the season.