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Wolf Pack basketball opponent preview: Nevada seeks season sweep over Boise State Sunday

David Calvert || Nevada Athletics Department

After Grant Sherfield’s game-winning fadeaway lifted the Nevada Wolf Pack above the Boise State Broncos 74-72 Friday evening, the Pack seek their fourth-straight win and a series sweep on Super Bowl Sunday (why is there games on Super Bowl Sunday?) over Boise State.

The Broncos have dropped two of their last three games after winning 13 of their first 14.

Nevada has won five straight at home since it fell to Air Force on Dec. 20; Two against Fresno State (sweep) and UNLV (sweep) along with its victory Friday. It has won six straight inside Lawlor Events Center against Boise State — with its last loss coming on Jan. 13, 2016.

Boise State fell 11 spots (from No. 21 to No. 32) in the NET rankings after the loss, thus re-qualifying the win from a Quad 1 to a Quad 2 win for the Wolf Pack (see more on how NET rankings work here.) Nevada is 2-12 in Quad 1 or 2 games under second-year head coach Steve Alford.

Nevada is fifth in the Mountain West at 8-5 (13-7 overall) while Boise State still the head of the snake at a conference-best 10-2 (14-3 overall).

Nevada (13-7, 8-5) vs. Boise State (14-3, 10-2)

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

Where: Lawlor Events Center in Reno, Nev.

TV: Fox Sports 1

Online: Fox Sports Go

Matchup history: Nevada leads 49-28

Last meeting: Nevada won 74-72 (Feb. 5, 2021)

Breakdown:

It should come to nobody’s surprise that the Broncos, who are the highest scoring team in the Mountain West (79.4 ppg), features not one, not two...but four double figure scorers.

They are led by Derrick Alston Jr., a Mountain West Player of the Year candidate. Despite the loss, he got the best of the Pack Friday — totaling 23 points on 9-of-14 shooting and 5-of-7 from beyond the arc.

On the season, Alston is tallying 16.9 points with nine 20-point performances this year, shooting 46.6 percent from the floor and 40.4 percent from beyond the arc. The lengthy 6-foot-9 guard adds 3.8 rebounds and 2.5 assists per contest.

In 12 conference games, he is recording 17.6 points, 3.9 rebounds and 2.8 assists per game.

Abu Kigab is averaging 13.6 points while Marcus Shaver is tallying 13.1 points a game. Rayj Dennis is the final double figure scorer at 10.4 points, leading the Broncos in assists (3.4 apg) and steals (1.5 spg).

As a whole, Boise State has shot the second-best from the floor (472.) among Mountain West teams with the sixth-best 3-point percentage (.345).

The Wolf Pack rank No. 6 in the conference in scoring (73.1 ppg), field goal percentage (.448) and 3-point makes per game (7.5). They sport the fourth-worst 3-point percentage in the Mountain West at 34.1 percent.

Nevada has two scorers who are top-10 in the Mountain West in scoring: Sherfield (18.4 ppg) and Desmond Cambridge (15.2 ppg).

Sherfield’s 18.4 points trails San Jose State’s Richard Washington (20.7 ppg) for the most in the conference. He is also registering team-highs in assists (6.1 apg) and steals (1.6 spg) — knocking down 44 percent of his shots and 36.8 percent from deep.

The 6-foot-2 shifty guard has registered two double-doubles in the last three games. In Friday’s win, Sherfield tallied 20 points on 9-of-16 shooting with a career-most 14 assists.

Cambridge is shooting 40.5 percent with a 35.1 3-point percentage. He tallied a team-high 21 points on 8-of-14 shooting, including 4-of-8 from deep in Friday’s victory.

Cambridge is second on the team in assists (2.9 apg) and steals (0.9 spg), while placing third in rebounding (4.4 rpg).

Nevada has seen steady contributions from its front court. K.J. Hymes (6.7 ppg) has produced double figure scoring in two of the last three games, including a career-high 17 Friday. Zane Meeks (9.5 ppg, 5.9 rpg) and 7-footer Warren Washington (9.4 ppg) have been capable third-scoring options.

Prediction:

  • Nevada: 68
  • Boise State: 72

Nevada has played just two teams ranked in KenPom’s top-60 rankings: San Diego State (No. 23) and Boise State (No. 59). It has held its own against both; the Pack lost at the expense of a buzzer-beater in the second against the Aztecs after surrendering a game-deciding 7-0 run in the final 2:14 of the first meeting, a five-point loss. Nevada, for the most part, has played up to its competition this year, even on short rest (like it experienced Friday). Nevada had just three days to prepare compared to the week’s long break Boise had. Now, both teams have seen each other. I see another close contest, but Boise State coming out on top. It’s difficult to imagine the Broncos dropping three of four, although it is possible. Season record: 14-6

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