Around the Rim: Wyoming at Nevada Preview

Nevada opened up conference play on a high note by beating Mountain West newcomer San Jose State on the road, and now returns to Lawlor to face a Wyoming team that beat the Wolf Pack on three separate occasions last year.

Nevada Junior Forward A.J. West
If you watched the SJSU game or listened on the radio, you undeniably heard the name West called numerous times. In just his third game for the Wolf Pack, the JC transfer scored 15 points on 6-8 shooting with 9 rebounds and 2 blocks. West is able to do what no Nevada big man has been able to do the past few years, which is score with his back to the basket and finish strong around the rim. We all remember the painful memories of Kevin Panzer missed layups. Luckily, with West, those days seem to have passed. On defense, West has the capability of changing opponents shots even if he doesn't necessarily get his hand on the ball, but more times then not he does get a hand on the ball, averaging 2 blocks per game. Come Saturday against the Cowboys, West will need to be a leader on defense and help duplicate the performance against the Spartans, which was the best defense Nevada has played all year.

Wyoming Junior Guard Riley Grabau
Grabau scores 11.4 points a game for the Cowboys and primarily does it in two ways. One, shooting the three ball. And two, getting to the line. Essentially that means if he is on, he is very hard to stop. Some players just have the ability to get hot and Grabau is one of them. In eight of the team's thirteen games, Grabau has shot above 50% from the three-point line, and in six of those he was above 60%. Nevada must be aware of Grabau at all times, because if you leave him open, there is a good chance the ball will find its way to the bottom of the net. The good news for Nevada fans is that he has had games in which is has had little production because he couldn't get hot. It boils down to this, if Grabau has a big game from beyond the arc, Nevada is likely to struggle.

Wyoming Junior Forward Larry Nance Jr.
It is no mystery who the Cowboy's best player is. It is by far Nance who leads the teams in both points and rebounds. The 6-8 forward is most effective around the rim and in midrange where he is shooting 58.8% from the field. When Nance tries to extend his game to the three-point line, he becomes a lot less effective only shooting 27.3%. Nance has had games this year in which he has scored 38, 29, and 25 points, so when needed he can be a volume scorer. He has also had games though in which he only scored 9, 6, and 3 points, but those were in games against lesser competition where he may not have been performing to his full ability. Against Nevada though, the Mountain West opener for Wyoming, expect him to bring his A game. The biggest change from Nance last year to this year his is defense, where he has raised his blocks per game average from .7 to 1.5. Expect Nevada forward Cole Huff and possibly even Jerry Evans to draw the Nance defense assignment. Huff will need to be extremely physical with Nance without fouling, because Nance shoots a productive 70.3% from the line.

The Wolf Pack failed to beat the Cowboys in three chances last year and that has to be fresh in their minds, so I expect seniors like Deonte Burton and Jerry Evans Jr. to have big contributions.

Nevada 74 Wyoming 68

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