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Wolf Pack opponent preview: Nevada closes out regular season with Colorado State at home

Nevada Athletics Department

The Nevada Wolf Pack close out the 2020-21 regular season with a bout against the Colorado State Rams Friday at Lawlor Events Center in Reno, Nev. Tip-off will be at 6 p.m. PST on CBS Sports Network.

This is a makeup game for the Feb. 20-22 two-game series that was postponed due to COVID-19 health and safety protocals.

After two games against New Mexico and Air Force (both wins) this week, Friday marks the Rams’ third game in five days.

Colorado State, at 14-3 (17-4 overall), sits firmly as the No. 2 seed behind San Diego State, who clinched the Mountain West regular season title Wednesday in its win over UNLV. With the Rebels’ loss, Nevada clinches a first round bye and a top-5 seed for the Mountain West Tournament, which begins March 10.

Nevada (14-9, 9-7) vs. Colorado State (17-4, 14-3)

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

Where: Lawlor Events Center in Reno, Nev.

TV: CBS Sports Network

Online: CBS Sports Network

Matchup history: Nevada leads 15-10

Last meeting: Colorado State 92-91 (Jan. 29, 2020)

Breakdown:

Colorado State possess a potent backcourt duo in Isaiah Stevens and David Roddy.

Roddy, 6-foot-5 guard, is built like a linebacker and wreaks havoc in the interior with his physicality and shot-making ability. He tops the team in scoring at 16.4 points per game on 53.3 percent shooting and 30.5 percent from 3-point range. Roddy, a Mountain West Player of the Year honoree, hauls down a team-high 9.4 rebounds (!) — seventh-most in the nation among guards.

Stevens, the reigning Mountain West Freshman of the Year, is averaging 14.8 points and 4.8 rebounds — both placing second on the squad behind Roddy — and a team-high 5.9 assists per contest. His 5.9 assists trails Nevada’s Grant Sherfield for the conference-lead.

Stevens is knocking down 43.4 percent of his 3-pointers with good volume (4.0 3-point attempts per game). Only teammates Kendle Moore and Adam Thistlewood — both of whom are double figure scorers — are shooting more 3-pointers per game.

Moore is tallying 10.6 points, while Thistlewood is averaging 10.3 points per game. Moore is shooting 46.5 percent from the floor and 36.9 percent from beyond the arc. He is tallying a team-high 1.6 steals per contest. Thistlewood, listed at 6-foot-6 is knocking down 47.9 percent of his shot attempts — 40.0 percent from deep on five attempts per game — and is third on the team in rebounding at 4.0 boards per game. He leads the Rams with 42 total 3-pointers this year.

In Wednesday’s win at New Mexico, Thistlewood tallied a season-high 27 points on 11-of-13 shooting with five 3-pointers.

Sherfield, a Mountain West Player of the Year candidate, is tallying a team-high 18.0 points per game on 43.3 percent shooting and 36.9 percent from deep. He is also registering team-highs in assists (6.2 apg) and steals (1.6 spg).

Since conference-play began, Sherfield’s averaging 17.4 points, 3.9 rebounds and 6.9 assists per game on 42.6 percent shooting, 31.5 percent from deep and 89.2 percent from the free-throw line. The 6-foot-2 guard had a suboptimal two-game series against Utah State after averaging just 8.5 points on 28.6 percent shooting.

Junior guard Desmond Cambridge is second on the team in scoring at 15.5 points per game, shooting 41.2 percent and 34.9 percent from beyond the arc. Cambridge ranks second on the team in assists (2.5 apg) and third in rebounding (4.3 rpg).

Zane Meeks, due to a knee issues, missed the last two games. Without his presence, there is a lack of a floor spacer within the Wolf Pack frontcourt, in addition to his improved rebounding ability. Meeks is averaging 9.0 points and is hauling a team-high 5.9 rebounds per game, shooting 35.8 percent from beyond the arc.

Here is what Nevada head coach Steve Alford said earlier this week, per Nevada Sports Net.

“Nothing that the medical staff has told me in terms of any kind of surgery,” Alford said. “It’s really more about he doesn’t have very good knees. He has some tendinitis going on, and it’s really about him being able to handle that. It’s just a tough deal. Some days he feels good. Some days he doesn’t. It’s been a really tough deal for him. I know that. And the medical team is helping him as much as it can, and he’s trying to get through it. But it hasn’t been something that’s really improved much over the last couple of weeks, so hopefully that does, but right now it’s day to day and we’re not sure.”

Prediction:

  • Nevada: 80
  • Colorado State: 77

Last week featured Nevada’s first game in nearly three weeks — and it certainly looked the part. I have written about this multiple time this year: Nevada has played up to its competition this year (with the exception of last week). With Nebraska skying up nearly 20 spots in the NET Rankings this week, Nevada’s record improved to 3-5 in Quad 1 or 2 games. This will be the Wolf Pack’s last shot with Colorado State ranking No. 40. The last time it faced a Quad 2 opponent at home? Its two-game sweep over Boise State, although that was before the long hiatus the program underwent. Although Colorado State has plowed through its lower-level Mountain West competition in recent weeks, I believe the Pack will be motivated to rinse the bitter taste from its mouth entering the Mountain West Tournament. To shake the dust off their shoulders, the Pack will have to find ways to score — which I believe they can (especially if Meeks is healthy enough to play).

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)

Colorado State (17-4, 14-3)

Position Number Name Class Height PPG RPG APG FG% 3P%
Position Number Name Class Height PPG RPG APG FG% 3P%
G 3 Kendle Moore Jr. 5-10 10.6 2.6 1.9 46.5 36.9
G 4 Isaiah Stevens Soph. 6-0 14.8 4.8 5.9 46.7 43.4
G 21 David Roddy Fr. 6-5 16.1 9.6 2.8 53.6 30.5
F 31 Adam Thistlewood Jr. 6-6 10.3 4.0 0.9 47.9 40.0
F 10 James Moors Fr. 6-10 5.9 3.4 1.0 53.0 11.8