No. 10 Nevada looks to knock Boise State from MWC perch

Tenth-ranked Nevada is the marquee team of the Mountain West.

But the Wolf Pack aren't one of the two teams sharing first place in the league.

Boise State is tied for the top spot with UNLV. The Broncos will aim to remain ahead of Nevada when they host the Wolf Pack on Tuesday night.

Nevada is a half-game behind the leaders due to the 85-58 drubbing it took at New Mexico on Jan. 5. The Wolf Pack have rebounded with back-to-back victories over San Jose State and Fresno State.

The Wolf Pack shot just 38.5 percent from the field -- including 10 of 37 from 3-point range -- in Saturday's 74-64 road win over Fresno State. But they committed just seven turnovers and had a 27-3 edge in second-chance points.

"We earned ourselves extra possessions and the 14 extra shots that we got I thought was the difference in the game," Nevada coach Eric Musselman said after the contest.

Senior shooting guard Caleb Martin scored 27 points to raise his team-leading average to 19.1, but senior big man Jordan Caroline was the biggest difference-maker.

Caroline was moved from power forward to center and he attacked the boards like a dynamo. The 6-foot-7, 230-pound Caroline matched his career high of 16 rebounds to go with 19 points.

Caroline has 10 double-doubles this season and 37 in his career. Perhaps calling him "Sweet Caroline" fits as Nevada hits the high notes in those contests by compiling a 35-2 record.

"Jordan gives us so much," Musselman said of a player averaging 18,4 points and team-high 9.8 rebounds. "We're tinkering with some stuff and we played smaller because they're a smaller team. We felt like we wanted to out-quick them at positions so we downsized."

The Wolf Pack are running into a hot Boise State squad that has won its three Mountain West games by an average of 20.3 points.

The Broncos rolled to big wins over San Diego State (88-64) and San Jose State (87-64) in their past two outings but are well aware the sledding will be tougher against Nevada.

"They've got tough kids who know how to win games," Boise State coach Leon Rice said on the school's radio broadcast after Saturday's road win at San Jose State. "We've just got to go out and compete our tails off and let the chips fall."

The Broncos lack a bona fide go-to scorer but have four players scoring in double digits in junior guards Justinian Jessup (12.8), RJ Williams (12.7) and Alex Hobbs (10.4) as well as sophomore guard Derrick Alston (10.4). Jessup has made a team-best 43 3-pointers and stands ninth in school history with 183.

Hobbs and junior guard Pat Dembley (8.5) scored 18 points apiece against the Spartans. The output was a season high for Dembley, who thinks his club will be up to the task in terms of giving the Wolf Pack a tough battle.

"We've got to come out playing extremely hard," Dembley said in a postgame radio interview. "We've got to play extremely smart, and we've got to execute everything. There's going to be mistakes, and we've just got to focus on the next play. We can't dwell on nothing."

Nevada has won the past four meetings with the Broncos after losing six of the previous seven.

--Field Level Media

Copyright 2019 by STATS. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS is strictly prohibited.

Our Latest Stories