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Wolf Pack basketball opponent preview: Nevada seek series split versus San Diego State

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Derrick Tuskan || San Diego State Athletic Department

The Nevada Wolf Pack seek a bounce back victory over the San Diego Aztecs Saturday at 6 p.m. PST at Viejas Arena in San Diego, Calif.

The Aztecs took the first of the two-game series 65-60, ending the game on a 7-0 run. They were led by Matt Mitchell, who tallied 20 points, including 18 in the second half. Nevada’s Grant Sherfield posted team-highs in points (22), rebounds (5), assists (4) and steals (2).

Nevada has lost eight straight games in Viejas Arena, which dates back to 1998. It has also lost seven of the last eight against SDSU, including four straight.

Nevada (8-4, 3-2) vs. San Diego State (8-2, 2-1)

When: Saturday Jan. 9 at 6 p.m. PST

Where: Viejas Arena in San Diego, Calif.

TV: CBS Sports Network

Online: CBS Sports

Matchup history: San Diego State leads 20-6

Last meeting: SDSU won 65-60 (Jan. 7, 2021)

Breakdown:

San Diego State is tallying 72.4 points per contest, the fourth-most in the conference. It is shooting 44.8 percent from the floor and a conference-best 38.3 percent from beyond the arc.

In three Mountain West games, the Aztecs are shooting 45.6 percent with an astounding 46.6 3-point percentage.

Mitchell leads the team in scoring at 15.4 points per game. The preseason All-Mountain West honoree also leads the team in steals (1.4), second on the team in rebounds (4.9) and is third in assists (1.8).

Jordan Schakel is second on the team in scoring at 13.9 points per game. He is atop the Mountain West with a 46.2 3-point percentage. Schakel, who went 2-for-4 from deep in the series opener, has hit multiple shots from outside in seven of their 10 contests this year — trailing Nevada’s Desmond Cambridge for the most in the Mountain West.

The 6-foot-6 sharpshooter has totaled 30 3-pointers on the year — four fewer than Cambridge (34) for the most in the Mountain West on 34 fewer attempts.

Gomez is the top-10 in the conference in 3-point percentage (.441) and total 3-point field goals (20). The 5-foot-9 guard is averaging 8.5 points, 2.5 steals and 1.1 assists in 23.1 minutes per game.

Nathan Mensah rounds out the double-digit scoring at 10.2 points per game. He is also the team’s top rebounder (7.5 rpg) and premier shot blocker (2.1 bpg). His 2.1 blocks per game trails Utah State’s Neemias Queta (2.8 bpg) for the best mark in the conference.

The Wolf Pack are seventh in the conference in scoring, tallying 71.3 points per contest. They are eighth in field goal percentage (.436) and fifth (.346) in 3-point percentage.

Sherfield has unquestionably been Nevada’s best player in the team’s first 12 games. He is averaging 17.6 points, 5.3 assists and 1.7 steals per game — all team-highs. The former Wichita State transfer is shooting 43.2 percent, the 9th-best percentage among qualifiers in the Mountain West.

He leads the Mountain West in total points (211), steals (20), points produced (216) and made field goals (56) and made free throws (56).

Cambridge is second on the team in scoring at 15.4 points per game, shooting 39.2 percent from the floor and 34.3 percent from beyond the arc. Cambridge is second on the team in assists (2.5 apg) and steals (1.0 spg).

Cambridge and Sherfield are the two engines of this Wolf Pack offense. Warren Washington, a 7-footer, is averaging 8.9 points and 5.6 rebounds per game. He has found a groove in the last nine games, averaging 10.7 points and 5.7 rebounds in 21.7 minutes per contest.

Prediction:

  • Nevada: 62
  • San Diego State: 69

If it wasn’t for a late scoring drought — which lasted the final two minutes, 16 seconds — the Pack could’ve taken the opening game of this series. They held the best shooting team in the conference to six made 3-pointers at a 37.5 percent clip; it averaged 9.7 at a 38.3 percent clip entering Thursday. SDSU’s six made 3s were a season-low. Nevada held the Aztecs to 65 points, tied for their second-lowest point total this year, on 40.8 percent shooting, their fourth-lowest percentage. The question remains: Can Nevada’s defense repeat that? It did a tremendous job defending the arc, but had trouble containing SDSU’s stalwarts, Mitchell and Mensah, in the paint. SDSU went to the charity stripe 22 times and outscored Nevada 26-16 in the paint. Though it is a very difficult task, Nevada must contain both while hitting timely shots against a stout SDSU defense in order to squeak away victory. Season record: 9-3

Projected Starting Five:

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)

No. 1 San Diego State (21-4, 14-3)

Position Number Name Class Height PPG RPG APG FG% 3P%
Position Number Name Class Height PPG RPG APG FG% 3P%
G 3 Terrell Gomez Sr. 6-8 8.8 1.5 2.4 43.9 43.2
G 4 Trey Pulliam Sr. 6-3 6.9 3.0 3.4 39.7 24.4
G 20 Jordan Schakel Sr. 6-6 14.4 4.2 1.0 47.5 46.8
F 11 Matt Mitchell Sr. 6-6 15.0 5.4 2.0 44.3 37.0
F 31 Nathan Mensah Jr. 6-10 8.5 6.2 0.6 57.7 0.0 (0-for-3)

Additional Links:

Nevada Game Notes: https://bit.ly/3q2oYzc

San Diego State Game Notes: https://bit.ly/3q7lXOi

Live Stats: http://stats.statbroadcast.com/broadcast/?id=321442