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Wolf Pack basketball preview: Nevada hosts two-game series against Fresno State

Derrick Tuskan || San Diego State Athletic Department

After splitting its four-game road trip, the Nevada Wolf Pack return home to take on the Fresno State Bulldogs in a two-game home series at Lawlor Events Center in Reno, Nev., this weekend. The opener will be on Friday at 8 p.m. PST.

Both teams enter the contest tied for fifth in the Mountain West at 3-3.

Nevada comes off a heartbreaking two-game set at San Diego State, where they lost by a combined seven points. The first resulted in a 65-60 final score — where the Aztecs capped off a 7-0 run in the final 2:16. The series finale came off a Trey Pulliam game winning floater as time expired in a 69-67 victory.

The Bulldogs swept the San Jose State Spartans — both coming by 15 points apiece — to cap off a four-game homestand.

Fresno State, currently on a three-game win streak, is looking to its longest winning streak since it finished with four straight victories in the 2018-19 season.

Nevada has won six straight games against the Bulldogs, which dates back to the 2016-17 season.

Nevada (8-5, 3-3) vs. Fresno State (5-3, 3-3)

When: Friday, Jan. 15, at 8 p.m. PST

Where: Lawlor Events Center in Reno, Nev.

TV: Fox Sports 1

Online: Fox Sports Go

Matchup history: Nevada leads 58-44

Last meeting: Nevada won 78-76 (Feb. 22, 2020)

Breakdown:

Fresno State is No. 5 in the conference in scoring (79.3 ppg) and No. 4 in field goal percentage (45.2), but ranks as the second-worst shooting team from the 3-point line (30.3).

The Bulldogs trail only New Mexico — ranking among the Top-20 nationally — in offensive rebounding (14.1 rpg). They are atop the conference in rebounding margin (plus-9.1) and have gathered nearly eight more offensive rebounds per game (plus-7.8) against Mountain West opponents.

Orlando Robinson has blossomed into one of the most dominant big men in the conference. He has developed into a double-double machine, having already racked up six in eight games after tallying five all of last year. He had four straight to begin the season, the longest such streak among Bulldog players since Dominic McGuire in 2006-07.

The 7-foot force is averaging 18.1 points, a conference-best 10.6 rebounds, 1.0 steals and 1.1 blocks per contest while shooting 52.0 percent from the floor. Each of those figures (sans the steals) place among the top-5 in the Mountain West.

Robinson has also displayed the ability to stretch the floor, netting 54.5 percent of his 3-point shots (!!) on 1.4 3-point attempts per contest. The mark is almost certainly proven to be unsustainable, as he is hitting just 61.1 percent of his free throw attempts this year and 25.0 percent of his 3-pointers in 2019-20, but it’s still impressive nonetheless. Robinson is also second on the team in assists, averaging 2.3 per game.

Deon Stroud and Isaiah Hill are the team’s only other double figure scorers.

Stroud is second on the team with 13.9 points in just 20.8 minutes per contest. Stroud carries similar shooting splits (52/52.2/61.8) to those of Robinson.

Though he began the season as a starter, Stroud carved a capable scoring role in the team’s second unit. In six games off the bench, the former UTEP transfer is averaging 14.7 points, including 16.5 points on 53.7 percent shooting in the team’s last four contests.

Hill is totaling 10.9 points per game on 47.8 percent shooting with a 30.8 3-point percentage. He is the team’s main distributor, dishing a team-high 3.3 assists per game. He is also second on the team in steals (1.1 spg).

In the last two games, guard Jordan Campbell is averaging 13.5 points, 8.5 rebounds, two steals and 1.5 blocks per game. He is shooting 55.0 percent with a 40.0 3-point percentage.

Nevada places No. 8 in the Mountain West in scoring (70.9). It ranks as the third-worst shooting team (43.8) with the sixth-best 3-point percentage (34.7).

Grant Sherfield has been Nevada’s best player this season. He is averaging team-highs in points (17.8 ppg), assists (5.6 apg) and steals (1.8 spg) — placing in the Top-5 among Mountain West qualifiers in each category.

The 6-foot-2 guard is netting 43.1 percent of his shots and 41.1 percent from beyond the arc. Sherfield has recorded 20-point performances in each of the team’s last four games, including a career-high 28 points versus New Mexico on Jan. 2.

Desmond Cambridge is second on the team in scoring at 15.5 points per game, the ninth-best mark in the Mountain West. He is shooting 39.6 percent from the floor and 34.6 percent from beyond the arc. In the last eight games, Cambridge is averaging 19.4 points on 41.9 percent shooting from 3-point range.

Alford has given him the greenest of lights — the 6-foot-4 guard leads the conference in both field goal attempts and 3-point attempts. The 6-foot-4 guard is second on the team in assists (2.5 apg), steals (1.0 spg) and is third in blocks (0.6 bpg).

Though he played in just seven minutes (with just one field goal attempt) last game due to foul trouble, Warren Washington has been a bright spot in the frontcourt after s slow start to the season.

Between Dec. 2 and Jan. 9 (nine games), Washington is tallying 10.7 points and 5.7 rebounds in 21.7 minutes per game on 70.8 percent shooting.

Prediction:

  • Nevada: 76
  • Fresno State: 70

The magic number for Nevada is: 70. When it has scored 70 or more points, it is 5-1. When it scores 69 or fewer, it has posted a 3-4 record. Fresno State has surrendered nearly 71 points a game in six Mountain West games, surpassing that mark three times. San Jose State, who is the 254th-most efficient offense nationally (per KenPom), put up 64 and 65 points respectively in their two matchups with the Bulldogs. This defense is permeable, especially from beyond the arc. With that said, the Wolf Pack have put together just one 70-point game since Dec. 18 — when they hit 13 3s with 84 points against New Mexico. Nevada’s defense — which, for the most part, has been quality — must bring its A-game. Fresno State has reached the 70-point mark in each of the last four games and 80-plus in two of the last three (it came one point short two games ago).

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)

Fresno State (5-4, 3-4)

Position Number Name Class Height PPG RPG APG FG% 3P%
Position Number Name Class Height PPG RPG APG FG% 3P%
G 3 Isaiah Hill Soph. 6-0 11.3 2.0 3.3 47.4 35.5
G 5 Jordan Campbell Soph. 6-4 6.6 3.4 0.5 46.5 26.7
G 13 Deon Stroud Jr. 6-5 13.1 3.3 0.6 49.4 46.4
F 11 Christian Gray Soph. 6-6 6.1 4.1 0.7 62.5 ——-
F 10 Orlando Robinson Soph. 7-0 17.8 10.1 2.2 50.9 50.0

Additional links:

Nevada game notes: https://bit.ly/2XLIKTz

Fresno State game notes: https://bit.ly/3oNXKfy

Live Stats: https://nevadawolfpack.com/sidearmstats/mbball/summary