Nevada Looks To Bounce Back Against George Mason

Nevada Looks To Bounce Back Against George Mason

Mountain West Basketball

Nevada Looks To Bounce Back Against George Mason

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WHO: Nevada Wolf Pack (1-4, 0-0 in the MW) vs. George Mason Patriots (4-2, 0-0 in the A-10)

WHEN: Tuesday, November 23rd 7:00 PM ET/4:00 PM PT

WHERE: Sioux Falls, S.D.

TV/Stream: ESPN+

Line: KenPom, Wolf Pack 5-point favorites

The Nevada Wolf Pack have started off slow, to say the least. The Wolf Pack are off to their worst start since the 2010-11season. Nevada is 1-4 against mediocre opponents to start off the young 2021-22 season. George Mason, on the other hand, is off to a great start. The Patriots are 4-2 and are looking in sync as a unit.

To start the season, Nevada has underperformed in almost every aspect of the game. A team that was picked to finish third in the Mountain West by conference media, has lost to three mid-tier WCC teams in San Diego, Santa Clara, and San Francisco. The Wolf Pack also lost to South Dakota State Monday night in the first night of the Crossover Classic in Sioux Falls.

Nevada’s biggest letdown has been on the defensive side of the ball. Steve Alford’s squad ranks an abysmal 339th in college basketball when it comes to defensive efficiency, 319th in defending the three-point ball, and 315th in defending the two. Teams are averaging nearly 40% from the three-point line and 56% from the field. If Nevada wants to wake up from their slump, they are going to have to tighten up on defense and limit what teams can do on offense. 

Nevada’s stars are having a slow start to the season as well. Grant Sherfield, the Mountain West Preseason Player of the Year, is averaging 14 points per game. Sherfield isn’t getting much help either. Desmond Cambridge Jr. is averaging 15.4 points per game and Warren Washington is averaging just over 14 points as well. 

The one bright spot for Nevada is the sheer unpredictability of what is to come. The Wolf Pack has returning All-Mountain West players and transfers from high major programs. Alford’s group of players have too much talent to perform this way for much longer. Time will truly tell what is to come of the Wolf Pack team.

George Mason is outperforming expectations, sitting at 4-2 in this early season. The Patriots were predicted to finish eighth in the A-10 this year and are looking to surprise basketball fans come March. George Mason started the season 4-0 beating impressive teams along the way like Penn and Maryland, who were ranked 20th in the country at the time. The Patriots can shoot lights out which may be a huge problem for Nevada. Kim English’s squad shoots above 40% from beyond the arch. The Patriots are also incredibly efficient. George Mason ranks top 20 in field goal efficiency and shoots above 50% from the field. 

The Patriots are lead by 6’9 forward, Josh Oduro. Oduro averages 16 points a game and is coming off a hot performance against the Washington Huskies. Oduro dropped 21 points and 10 rebounds against the Pac-12 foe. Colorado transfer D’Shawn Schwartz also carries the scoring load for the Patriots. Schwartz is averaging above 15 points as well but only scored seven last time out. The Patriots are looking to bounce back to their hot start following their two back to back losses.

Keys for Nevada:

Nevada needs to find some sort of rhythm. Offensively, Nevada lacks identity. The Wolf Pack have had games against San Francisco and San Diego where big men like Warren Washington and Will Baker put points on the board. Other games, guard perform for the Wolf Pack. Sherfield dropped 23 against Santa Clara and Cambridge Jr. scoring 22 in the first game of the season against Eastern Washington.

Once Nevada can find a good balance of inside and outside scoring, the Wolf Pack will start putting more wins on their record. Additionally, the Wolf Pack’s stars need to show up in a big way. Sherfield and Cambridge Jr. are one of the best back court duos in the Mountain West but need to start playing as such.

Keys for George Mason:

The Patriots need to continue shooting the ball well. If George Mason can shoot close to 50% from the field and stretch Nevada’s lengthy defense to the three point line, then the Patriots will be in a good position to score at will. George Mason also needs to limit the impact Nevada’s big men have on the game. Once Washington and Baker get going, it starts to open things up for the Wolf Pack’s guards. George Mason give regular minutes to anyone above 6’9, so rebounding and guarding at the rim could be an issue. 

Prediction:

Both George Mason and Nevada are coming off back to back losses. It comes down to which team wants to wake up first. For Nevada, both the players and the fan base are begging for a win, Tuesday night may be that night. George Mason need to continue hitting from three. If they shoot well, it will be an uphill battle for Nevada. Nevada will ultimately come out on top ending their three game losing streak. Sherfield will lead Nevada to their second win of the season. Nevada wins 75-72. 


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