Around the Rim: Colorado St at Nevada Preview
Colorado State Forward J.J. Avila
The Mountain West Conference year in and year out has a list of many impactful transfers, and this year that list is headlined by Avila. The Navy Midshipmen transfer is averaging 18.4ppg, 7.6rpg, and 3.6apg for the Rams and he's being efficient in doing so, shooting 49% from the field. Those stats make Avila the leading scorer and assist man on the team, as well as the second leading rebounder. The 6-7 junior, as coach David Carter commented on in his weekly press conference, can score inside when matched up with a smaller player but also can keep the defense honest with his three point shot. Avila is a difference maker in ways other than his scoring as shown by his statistics. Averaging 2.8 offensive boards a game, it is important for whoever matches up against him on defense, whether it be A.J. West or Cole Huff, to box out and limit his second chance opportunities. Nevada has struggled recently on the glass so Avila may have the advantage here. Additionally Colorado State, similarly to Nevada, gets most of its production from the starters and very few productive minutes from the bench, so keeping a key player like Avila in check or even in foul trouble will be a huge difference maker.
Colorado State Guard Daniel Bejarano
If Avila is the big man to focus in on, Bejarano is the guard to stop. The teams second leading scorer and assist man, and leading rebounder is averaging 16.5ppg, 9.0rpg, and 3.1apg. Bejarano is going to take a lot of shots. There isn't a shot on the floor Bejarano doesn't like. He has the ability to shoot Colorado State into games, but also the ability to shoot the team out of games. He takes nearly half of his shots from behind the arc, nearly six a game, but his greatest strength is arguably getting to the rim. This is not the Colorado State team of last year where the team worked inside out. This year's version works mostly outside in and Bejarano is the key to this change. Jerry Evans Jr., Nevada's best defender, well matchup against Bejarano to start the game and use his length to bother the Ram's best perimeter player. Nevada must tire Bejarano out and attack him on the offensive end, similarly to Avila because again, Colorado State has a very weak bench, so forcing Ram coach Larry Eustachy to play his bench will be a key to victory for the Wolf Pack.
Nevada Guard Michael Perez
Perez might be the most underrated piece of the Nevada team. His offense when Deonte Burton is not on the floor keeps Nevada moving without its star. And ever since backup point guard Marqueze Coleman returned from his eye injury, Perez often plays more minutes than Burton. Coach David Carter often looks for specific times to get Burton a breather, but that's not necessarily the case for Perez. To think Nevada can't win without Perez being effective would be wrong, games against SJSU and UC Davis have proven that to be true, but Perez is the huge boost to the scoring adding to the contributions from Burton, Evans Jr., and the emerging Cole Huff that Nevada needs. Furthermore Perez's ability to keep the defense honest with his driving ability, often looking for a pull up jumper more than attacking the rim, opens up space for shooters such as Evans Jr. and Huff. For Nevada to win Wednesday, having Perez score 15+ points will be key.
This game has all the makings of a close game, and I expect it to be that way. Nevada's last two games have both gone to overtime, so let's hope for fatigue's sake that doesn't happen again. Colorado State is well coached but they don't have the same talent in the starting five, and the lack of depth will come back to hurt them in this game.
Nevada 67 Colorado State 63
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