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Wolf pack basketball opponent preview: Nevada closes homestand with Boise State

Nevada v Boise State Photo by Loren Orr/Getty Images

The Nevada Wolf Pack close its four-game home stand with a two-game set against the Boise State Broncos, beginning Friday Jan. 5 at 6 p.m. PST on Fox Sports 1.

Boise State is the top team in the Mountain West with a 10-1 conference (14-2 overall) record. Nevada places in fifth at 7-5 (12-7 overall).

Boise State’s lone conference loss came on Jan. 27 to Colorado State, 78-56. It snapped a 13-game win streak. Boise State followed with an 85-77 victory over the Rams in its most recent outing.

The Pack enter off a two-game sweep over intrastate rival UNLV. They will be on short rest with Friday marking their third game since Sunday, Jan. 31.

Nevada is 7-2 inside Lawlor Events Center this season. All of its seven home victories have come by double digits coming by an average of 17.1 points.

Nevada (12-7, 7-5) vs. Boise State (14-2, 10-1)

When: Friday, Feb. 5 at 6 p.m. PST

Where: Lawlor Events Center in Reno, Nev.

TV: Fox Sports 1

Online: Fox Sports Go

Matchup history: Nevada leads 48-28

Last meeting: Boise State won 73-64 (Feb. 1, 2020)

Breakdown:

Friday marks the battle between two Mountain West Player of the Year contenders: Boise State’s Derrick Alston Jr. and Nevada’s Grant Sherfield.

In 16 games, Alston is averaging 16.5 points, 3.8 rebounds and 2.4 assists on 45.3 percent shooting and 38.0 percent from deep.

In 11 conference games, the 6-foot-9 guard is averaging 17.1 points, 3.8 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 1.2 steals per game. He is knocking down 48.8 percent of his shots from the floor and 37.1 percent from beyond the arc.

Sherfield is fielding numbers on 18.3 points, 5.7 assists and 1.5 steals per game on 43.3 percent shooting and 36.3 percent shooting from beyond the arc.

In 12 Mountain West games, he is tallying 18.8 points, 3.6 rebounds, six assists with 1.3 steals per game — each figure ranking among the top-10 in the Mountain West. He is shooting 42.9 percent and 32.8 percent from beyond the arc in such games.

The 6-foot-2 shifty guard has tallied seven 20-plus point games in conference play — including a career-best 28 points on 6-of-13 shooting against New Mexico on Jan. 2.

Alston is the Broncos’ biggest threat, but they are still trotting out four other double figure scorers.

Marcus Shaver is second with 13.8 points per game, knocking down a team-best 44.0 percent of his shots from beyond the arc. He is tied for the team lead in steals (1.5 spg) and is third in rebounding (4.9 rpg).

The other three are: Abu Kigab (13.5 ppg), Devonaire Doutrive (10.6 ppg) and Rayj Dennis (10.5 ppg).

Kigab is shooting 57.1 percent from the floor and 31.1 percent from 3-point range. He leads the team in rebounding (6.1 rpg) and steals (1.4 spg). Doutrive, who transferred from Arizona last winter, gained eligibility prior to its game against Air Force on Jan. 6.

Dennis leads the team in assists with 3.3 per game. He is shooting 49.3 percent from the floor, including 61.8 percent from inside the arc.

Boise State is outscoring opponents by a conference-most 15.4 points per game — the 9th-best mark in Division-I. It also sports a plus-6.9 rebounding margin with a plus-4.6 turnover margin — both figures rank among the top-50 nationally.

Nevada ranks No. 6 in the conference in scoring at (73.0 ppg) and 3-point percentage (.340), but rank No. 7 in field goal percentage (.443).

The Wolf Pack’s only other double figure scorer is Desmond Cambridge. He is tallying 14.9 points on 39.9 percent shooting with a 34.5 3-point percentage. Cambridge is second on the team in assists (2.6) and steals (1.5 spg) while third in rebounding (4.5 rpg).

In his second game since returning from knee soreness, 6-foot-10 forward Zane Meeks tallied a career-high 19 points with eight rebounds off the bench Tuesday.

In the last six games, Nevada 7-footer Warren Washington is averaging 12.7 points and 6.5 rebounds per game.

Prediction:

  • Boise State: 77
  • Nevada: 68

Similarly to UNLV last weekend, the Wolf Pack will be on shorter rest than usually accustomed to this season. Boise State will have had a near week’s worth of rest entering Friday. Although it lost just two games ago in its only blip of the season, Boise State’s offense has reached new heights since conference play began. It is averaging 82.2 points against conference opponents, five more points than the second-best team (Colorado State - 77.2). The Broncos have tallied 80-plus points in seven of their 11 Mountain West games, while holding opponents to 70 or fewer points in eight of those games. Aside from Colorado State, the margin-of-error for Boise State has been higher given the opponents (New Mexico, San Jose State, Air Force, Wyoming, Fresno State). They’re doing what they should do: beat up on the bad teams. Friday marks a challenge for both teams. Nevada has not faired well against Quad 1 or 2 opponents since head coach Steve Alford took over prior to the 2019-20 season, going 1-12 (0-3 this year). This stretch begins a challenging end of the season for the Wolf Pack, and I don’t see them coming out on top in the first contest against arguably the best two-way opponents in the Mountain West. Season record: 14-5

Projected Starting 5:

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)

Boise State (18-7, 14-6)

Position Number Name Class Height PPG RPG APG FG% 3P%
Position Number Name Class Height PPG RPG APG FG% 3P%
G 0 Marcus Shaver Sr. 6-2 10.7 4.6 1.5 44.4 38.6
G 10 Rayj Dennis Soph. 6-2 8.9 3.2 3.0 44.0 28.2
G 14 Emmanuel Akot Jr. 6-9 8.4 3.6 2.3 37.9 28.6
G/F 21 Derrick Alston Sr. 6-9 17.5 3.6 2.2 44.5 38.9
F 33 Mladen Armus Jr. 6-10 7.6 8.0 1.2 50.4 0.0 (0-1)

Additional Links:

Nevada Game Notes: https://bit.ly/2YLGEDJ

Boise State Game Notes: https://bit.ly/3ttUKaQ

Live Stats: https://bit.ly/2MWn9pp