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Nevada (15-1, 2-1 MW) at Fresno State (12-3, 3-0)
When: Saturday, 5 p.m.
Where: Save Mart Center (15,596 capacity)
TV/Radio: ESPNU/94.5 FM
Keys For A Nevada Victory
1.Next Man Up: During the pregame press conference Head Coach Eric Musselman talked about injuries and medical issues being a concern. While being guarded about the extent of said injuries and to whom Musselman did mention that Jazz Johnson was scheduled for a doctors visit yesterday.
Of particular concern is the numerous hard collisions Johnson has suffered this season, the latest seemingly having affected his shooting shoulder. The emergence of Cory Henson as a contributor certainly helps, especially facing Fresno, a small quick team that turns opponents over at the second highest rate in the conference.
Jordan Brown is due for his breakout game offensively and with Fresno’s lack of interior size this might be the right time and right place.
Brown has improved defensively especially on the perimeter where he will have to guard smaller quicker Bulldogs. Nisre Zouzoua is the next player Musselman wants to see develope the on court confidence he displayed while averaging over 20 points a game at Bryant. As Musselman said “inconsistent playing time sometimes leads to inconsistent play.” Zouzoua very likely agrees.
2. It’s Raining 3’s: As often as Nevada shoots from deep it is eclipsed by the rate Fresno shoots the 3, and Fresno shoots at a higher percentage than Nevada 38.3% to 33.8%. While the Wolf Pack has done a good job defending the 3 this season Fresno has done an even better job, holding opponents to less than 30% from behind the arc.
Nevada’s shooting woes have for the most part not been due to great defense, most teams have zoned Nevada daring the Wolf Pack to hit the open shots from distance. Fresno prefers to play man to man defense utilizing their team quickness to disrupt opponents offense, if Fresno decides to stick with man to man look for Nevada’s Martin twins to attack the basket.
Nevada under Musselman schemes for every opponent, attempting to take away or at least neutralize their opponents offensive strengths. Fresno presents an interesting challenge to this approach as they have numerous players that are capable of having a “big” game. Deshon Taylor and Braxton Huggins present the most consistent threats on the offensive end of the court.
Look for Nevada to close out hard against Huggins whenever he gets the ball around the arc as Huggins has torched teams from deep hitting 41-101 for the season. Taylor has been shooting the 3 this season inconsistently but can change a game when he gets hot, so expect Nevada to also guard him closely on the outside.
3. Control 2 Runs, and 1 of them early: In Nevada’s only loss of the season at New Mexico Nevada was never able to put a run together. As Musselman often points out the lesson he learned from his father, most games consist of 3 runs, control 2 of them and your team will likely win.
Despite all the experience Nevada has and the senior leadership Nevada has struggled at times against loud hostile crowds. If Nevada is able to put together an early run and quiet the crowd at Save Mart Center it will bode well for the Wolf Pack.
Nevada has a serious size advantage over Fresno at every position with Nate Grimes at 6-8 being their tallest starter. Despite their overall lack of size the Bulldogs are an above average defensive rebounding squad. Nevada looks it’s best when it gets out in transition using their athleticism to it’s maximum advantage.
Live ball turnovers are a key and Henson’s 4 steals last game helped Nevada get out and run. If Nevada can limit it’s own turnovers and create their own on the defensive end then Nevada should be able to put the Bulldogs away on the road.