Nevada goes for 9th win away from home
After a tough start to the season for Boise State (8-8, 3-0), they’re tied atop the Mountain West Conference with UNLV as the only two undefeated teams in conference play after winning three in a row. Boise State hasn’t taken down a top 10 team… ever. 0-14 all-time. As HC Leon Rice said, “we know we have our hands full.” Yes, yes you do.
Nevada (16-1, 3-1) won’t be taking their trip to Taco Bell arena lightly, especially after what happened there last season. Nevada won (both meetings last season). Though it wasn’t before Nevada junior point guard and son of Cleveland Cavaliers head coach Larry Drew, Lindsey Drew, tore his achilles in a half-court heave at the end of the first 20 minutes. Drew was one of the top players in the country in assist/turnover ratio, an incredible defender, and a huge part of the Wolf Pack’s success. As Drew was taken off the court, several things were said from Boise State fans directed toward him- Most notably “I hope it’s broken.” Well, it was, and Nevada hasn’t forgotten those words.
Nevada isn’t unfamiliar with hostile road environments which they should expect in Boise, Idaho. The Wolf Pack have played nine games away from home. They also know they’re going to continue to get every teams best effort. Every team they have played and will play, are clearly hungry for that top-10 upset. Nevada’s highest rankings ever also give opportunity for Mountain West opponents’ biggest upsets ever. Nevada’s five 5th year seniors and supporting cast slipped up in conference once this season, don’t expect it to happen again.
Boise State started off struggling in non-conference but have opened conference play 3-0 after beating some of the Mountain West’s bottom teams- San Jose State, Wyoming, and surprisingly overrated San Diego State. Expect the Broncos to come into the matchup with a ton of confidence after their recent success.
When Broncos HC Leon Rice was asked about how to slow down Nevada’s Jordan Caroline, he answered “that’s the million-dollar question.” -as it is for any team in the country. Caroline sits just under a double-double average at 18.4 pts and 9.8 reb after Nevada’s clash with Fresno State where he had 19 pts and 16 reb (7 off reb). Caroline is a matchup nightmare for anyone and he should have the advantage with whoever Rice gives the assignment to.
This game won’t include the matchup between Nevada’s Caleb Martin and Boise State’s Chandler Hutchison that fans became accustomed to last year. Hutchison entered the NBA draft and was taken in the first round by the Chicago Bulls. Instead, it’ll be Caleb Martin guarding the Bronco’s new leading scorer, Justinian Jessup, who is averaging 12.8 pts, 4.6 reb, and 2.8 assists. Caleb is known to be Nevada’s scorer but has improved his defense leaps and bounds and may be the toughest defender Jessup will see this season. Caleb might just give twin brother and reigning Mountain West defensive player of the year, Cody Martin, a run for his money for the award.
Caleb went through a bit of a shooting slump over the past month that he has seemed to break out of recently and Nevada has found new comfort with Corey Henson in the starting lineup to help Nevada get off the better starts. Henson has added a new sense of high IQ basketball to Nevada’s starting five. He’s been consistent handling the ball, creating for teammates, and knocking down a few threes which Nevada hasn’t shot well as a whole.
Since Nevada’s only loss to New Mexico on the road they’ve found another gear and haven’t had a problem covering the last two games. A 27.5 point favorite against San Jose State- they won by 39. A 4 point favorite at Fresno State- they won by 10. I don’t see the trend changing this Tuesday as Nevada comes in as a 7.5 point favorite. With the baggage that comes along with this rivalry as well as the experience and talent Nevada has- I don’t see many left in the seats late in this one.