Nevada looks to keep winning streak alive against Loyola Marymount University
How to watch Nevada vs. LMU
Wolf Pack are back in action
WHO: Nevada Wolf Pack (5-4, 0-0 in the MW) vs. LMU Lions (6-4, 0-0 in the WCC)
WHEN: Saturday, December 18, 11:00 PM ET/8:00 PM PT
WHERE: Lawlor Events Center: Reno, NV
TV: CBS Sports Network
Line: KenPom, Wolf Pack 7-point favorites
Nevada looks to continue to hot streak into Saturday’s contest against LMU. The Wolf Pack have been able to win four games in a row taking down George Mason, Washington, and Pepperdine. Nevada had a COVID-19 stint and had to cancel their road trip to Texas. The Wolf Pack were able to knock off the cobwebs against D-II opponent Minnesota, Duluth, beating the Bulldogs 98-62.
The Wolf Pack have been able to rattle off four straight wins behind the excellent guard play of both Grant Sherfield and Desmond Cambridge. The star backcourt has scored at least 20 points each in the last four wins. Sherfield is playing exceptionally well at a time when Nevada was looking to find an identity. Over the win streak, the 6’2 guard has scored 26.5 points, eight rebounds, and just under eight assists a game. Sherfield on the other hand is averaging 22 points from the field and is shooting an efficient 52% during the Wolf Pack’s recent success.
Since the loss to South Dakota State, Nevada seemed to have found the recipe to score the ball. Mirroring the year prior, the Wolf Pack are relying on the backcourt and are hoping that the big men down low can supply a boost on the boards. Nevada currently ranks in the top 50 in offensive efficiency and ranks 67 in the nation in forcing turnovers. The worry remains in the Wolf Pack’s defensive ability. Letting opponents shoot 52 percent from the field and 34.5 percent from beyond the arch will force Nevada to play mistake-free offensive to keep up with that level of scoring.
LMU has an up and down season, to say the least. The Bulldogs started the season with a loss to Chattanooga but four games later, turned around, and SMU who is ranked 77th in Kenpom. This is another team that can score the ball efficiently, hovering around 100 in offensive efficiency. This Bulldog team will wear you down and take efficient shots while getting to the free-throw line. LMU ranks in the top 50 in 2-point efficiency and shoots above 75 at the charity stripe.
LMU is led by fifth year guard Eli Scott. Scott is averaging 17 points per game and leads the team in rebounding with nearly seven a game. Joe Quintana isn’t too far behind Scott in scoring, averaging 15 points himself. The 6’2 guard can shoot and can hurt you from the free-throw line. Quintana averages 44 percent from beyond the arc and ranks 17th in college basketball in free throw percentage with 93 percent. But, if the Bulldogs want to upset Nevada in Lawlor Events Center, redshirt junior, Dameane Douglas needs to perform as he has in LMU’s last two wins. Douglas scored 18 and 19 points against Tulsa and Long Beach State respectively, finishing well above 100 in offensive rating.
Keys for LMU
The Bulldogs need to keep up offensively with Nevada. LMU is a top 100 team on the offensive side of the ball, but has been known to struggle guarding good teams, especially around the rim. The Bulldog’s tallest play is 6’7 and will give up tons of size to Nevada’s seven-footers in Will Baker, K.J. Hymes, and Warren Washington who sat out against Minnesota Duluth due to injury. However, if LMU can take advantage of Nevada’s spotty defense, things could get interesting in Reno.
Keys for Nevada
The Wolf Pack need to keep giving their playmakers the ball. Early in the season, the Wolf Pack were trying to feed the ball down low and find their identity. Well, Nevada has found their identity in its solid guard play during this four-game win streak. Keep feeding Sherfield and Cambridge Jr, and let the big men contribute when needed. Nevada also needs to tighten up on defense, specifically at the three-point line. While LMU isn’t a top 10 shooting team in the country, the Bulldogs will hurt you from beyond the arc when left open.
This game will be closer than the Kenpom line predicts. Nevada and LMU are similar in every aspect besides height. Great guard play and efficient scoring for both teams. However, I think Nevada’s height will propel the Wolf Pack to win the game. Hymes and Baker will need to play better than they have in recent games and give Nevada the advantage down low. Nevada wins 80-76.