Nevada at BYU: Game Preview, Prediction, TV, Radio, Live Stream, Odds, More
Wolf Pack look to continue their recent offensive explosion
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With both teams fielding scorers aplenty, be ready for a shootout in Provo
WHO: Nevada (7-3, 1-0 MWC) vs. BYU (7-4, 0-0 WCC)
WHEN: Tuesday, December 10 — 7:00 P.M. MT / 6:00 P.M. PT
WHERE: Marriott Center, Provo, UT
ALL-TIME RECORD: BYU leads the series, 13-7
ODDS: BYU -7, per KenPom
If it feels familiar to see BYU taking on a Mountain West foe, fret not. The Cougars really are on a tour through the conference, with tonight’s game against Nevada being the fourth of five total games against the league for Mark Pope’s side.
While the games against Boise State and San Diego State didn’t break the Cougars’ way, BYU looked like the best version of themselves over the weekend as they took down UNLV, 83-50. The win was a righting of the ship, as BYU was coming off an overtime loss to Utah on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, Nevada’s offense went out and had themselves a monster week, scoring 98 against Santa Clara and 100 against Air Force.
The Wolf Pack have bounced back beautifully after a disappointing 2-3 start to the year. The season’s low point so far was a 20-point loss to Davidson. That loss looked—at the time—like it might signal a rough first year for new head coach Steve Alford, but Nevada has now won five straight games.
And though it shouldn’t diminish the accomplishment too much, none of those wins came against likely NCAA Tournament participants. Bowling Green is probably the most likely of the five, to give some context.
But they’ve got a chance to reel in a big fish when they travel to Provo.
The Cougars have had their struggles, to be sure. The losses to Boise State and Utah aren’t great. But BYU has also beaten Houston, Virginia Tech, and UCLA on the year, in addition to the haymaker they landed on UNLV.
Long story short, BYU can play.
Thankfully, so can Nevada.
The combination of Jalen Harris, Jazz Johnson, and Lindsey Drew is starting to mesh really well. They’ve demonstrated the ability to take turns carrying the scoring load, with the trio combining for eleven 20-point games so far.
Most recently, it’s been Harris taking the lead. The former Louisiana Tech guard has been lighting it up. He’s averaging 24 points per game over the last three contests, including a 31-point performance against Air Force on Saturday. Harris is making a very strong case for All-MWC honors in the early going—and could even find his way into the POY conversation.
If you’re a fan of high-scoring basketball, look no further. This game pits two effective offenses and against two pedestrian defenses. BYU has gone for 83 or more points in its last three games. Nevada has scored more than 84 in three of its past four.
This could end up being the most exciting games of the evening.
BY THE NUMBERS
On Nevada’s offensive possessions…
Steve Alford should continue to ride the horse that got him to this five-game winning streak, putting the ball in the hands of his guards early and often. The Wolf Pack have been an excellent shooting team and they protect the ball as well as just about anyone in the country. But their shooters are going to have to get it right on the first try, because BYU has been great at limiting second-chance opportunities by opposing offenses. Also, don’t expect Nevada to get much from the line, as the Cougars don’t foul much.
On BYU’s offensive possessions…
The performance against UNLV was exactly what this BYU offense wants to do night in and night out. We know that the Cougars have shooters galore, but having the dominant interior presence of Yoeli Childs back should take their efficiency into uncharted waters. Johncarlos Reyes and KJ Hymes haven’t been terrible in the low post for the Wolf Pack, but Childs might be the best post player they’ll face all year (apologies to Neemias Queta). Aside from contesting his shots, Nevada will also need to limit second-chance points better than they’ve done so far on the season.
DPI PROJECTION: BYU 79.87, NEVADA 79.56
Normally I would round the scores off, but I think it’s important to show just how close these two are. The system is projecting this to be a wildly even game, with less than half a point separating the two teams. In the end, though, the DPI projects that the Cougars will defend their home court. But Nevada has every chance in the world to win this game.
If the Wolf Pack have any hope at an at-large bid—a slim prospect, most likely— they need to seize this opportunity on the road.
Andrew is a current USBWA member, covering college basketball for multiple outlets, including Mountain West Wire of the USA TODAY Sports Media Group and Busting Brackets of the FanSided Network. He also runs the Dieckhoff Power Index, a college basketball analytics system, and provides bracketology predictions throughout the season.