Fresno State vs. Nevada Series Preview
Wolf Pack looking for a few more wins.
Bulldogs hoping for an upset.
Game: Fresno State (5-3) at Nevada (8-5)
Location: Reno, Nevada
TV: Game 1: FS1, 8:00 PST, Game 2: CBS Sports, 1:00 PST
A battle between two middle of the pack teams in the Mountain West square of in the Biggest Little City. Nevada and Fresno State come into this game on very different notes as the Wolf Pack have lost their last two games, while the Bulldogs have won three in a row.
Fresno State has been able to take care of business at home, splitting their games against Wyoming and then sweeping the San Jose Spartans. The Bulldogs were able to win by an average of 16 points over their last three games in part of their guard-forward combo in Orlando Robinson and Deon Stroud. Robinson, the 7’0 sophomore, has been the Bulldog’s rock during the beginning of the Mountain West season. Robinson is averaging a double-double with 18 points and 10 rebounds per game. The second part of this efficient duo is the 6’5 sophomore guard Deon Stroud who is from Fresno but transferred to FSU from UTEP.
Stroud averages nearly 14 points per game. Isaiah Hill is another Bulldog who has the ability to hurt Nevada’s spotty defense. The Bulldogs are a team that sit in the middle of the country when it comes to offensive efficiency. However, if they can force Nevada’s young team to force turnovers and continue to rebound at an amazing rate, they have a shot to at least split the series.
Nevada has continued to get better as the season has gone on. It may be weird to say, but Nevada might have played two of its best games in the losses to San Diego State. The Wolf Pack had two legit chances to beat arguably the best team in the conference twice. While Nevada’s guard play has never been in question, the Brown transfer Desmond Cambridge is looking to be more consistent and at least one big is stepping up every night for the Wolf Pack. K.J. Hymes had 14 points in Nevada’s last game while Warren Washington is now averaging eight points per game.
Add this average to above average post play with Nevada’s All-Mountain West guards, this is a team that can only get better. Nevada does well when they limit the turnovers. During the Wolf Pack’s two games in San Diego, they had four less than their average 13 turnovers per game. Nevada should have a hard time keeping up with Fresno State’s rebounding totals as Nevada only gets 36 rebounds per game. If Washington can stay out of foul trouble and contribute on the boards, then Fresno State shouldn’t be able to rebound at will like they usually do.
Keys to the game:
For Nevada, they need to match or limit Fresno State’s ability to rebound the ball. The Bulldogs rank 19th in the country with over 41 rebounds per game. Fresno State is extremely efficient at keeping the play alive by crashing the boards. Nevada also needs to limit Fresno State from successfully scoring around the rim. When Fresno State shoots well from two-point range, the Bulldogs are able to beat down their opponents.
During their last three games, the Bulldogs have shot a blistering 47% from the field while not shooting all that well from beyond the arch. If Nevada can continue to play good defense and force the Bulldogs to shoot the ball from beyond the arch, then Fresno State will struggle to score the ball.
For Fresno State, the Bulldogs need to force someone else to score besides Grant Sherfield and Desmond Cambridge. Nevada is still searching for a solid third option to score down the stretch and if Fresno State at least limits the Wolf Pack’s guard play, they can limit Nevada’s scoring. Fresno State also needs to keep crashing the boards, specifically on the offensive side of the ball. If they are to miss threes and try to score against Nevada’s much-improved defense, they will need all the second-chance points they can get.
These are actually two similar teams. Young, inexperienced, and looking to finish in the middle of the conference at the end of the season. While there are no fans in Lawlor Events Center, playing at home will benefit Nevada. The Wolf Pack should take the first game handily and will barely squeak out the second game. However, don’t be surprised if Fresno State comes out hot and upsets Nevada during their first game.