Gear up for gameday: Nevada
LARAMIE — Remember the last time Wyoming and Nevada played a basketball game?
I’m sure the Wolf Pack haven’t forgotten.
The Cowboys, coming off an upset victory over Border War rival Colorado State in the opening round of the Mountain West Tournament last March in Las Vegas, stunned the No. 3 seed 74-71 behind a career-high 24 points from then-freshman Kwane Marble.
“Just keep fighting, man,” then head coach Allen Edwards said, holding back tears.
Just one word followed.
Edwards’ scrappy bunch punched its ticket to the semifinals against Utah State, where their Cinderella story eventually came to end. So did Edwards’ four-year tenure in Laramie.
Wyoming, as you know, didn’t win many games a season ago. Just seven during the regular season, in fact. This current group already has eight with 12 games remaining.
Though the Cowboys were a cellar-dweller in the league, they played Nevada down to the wire twice, including a 68-67 setback in Reno that ended with a Jalen Harris layup with just nine ticks remaining on the clock. Wyoming fell to the Wolf Pack 73-68 in Laramie.
Harris is long gone. So is Jazz Johnson, Lindsey Drew and Nisre Zouzoua. Those were the leading scorers for Nevada in 2019-10, in order.
The lineup is much different. So far, the results aren’t.
Steve Alford’s team enters Friday night’s matchup in Laramie with an overall record of 10-5. The Wolf Pack is 5-3 in league play and is coming off a two-game sweep of Fresno State.
Arguably no one in the Mountain West has been hotter than guard Grant Sherfield. The sophomore from Ft. Worth, Texas, has scored more than 20 points in the Wolf Pack’s previous five games, including a 28-point outburst in an 84-74 road victory over New Mexico on New Year’s Eve.
Sherfield is doing it from the field and from deep while averaging a team-best 18.7 points per game. He is shooting better than 45% from the field, 41 from beyond the arc. He’s also Nevada’s leader in assists, dishing nearly six per game.
Fellow guard Desmond Cambridge is doing plenty of damage himself.
The junior is averaging eight three-point attempts per game. In a two-game stretch against Grand Canyon and San Diego, Cambridge nailed 13 triples on 24 attempts.
Forward Zane Meeks is averaging 9.1 points per game and leads the team with nearly six rebounds per outing.
The Cowboys are coming off a 77-58 rout of Air Force Monday night in Colorado Springs. Xavier DuSell scored a career-high 19 points and hit five triples to help put a halt to a four-game losing streak.
Fellow freshman Marcus Williams leads the way for the Pokes, averaging 16.3 points per game. Hunter Maldonado is netting 14.1 an outing.
Mountain West Standings
1 Boise State (13-1, 9-0)
2 Utah State (12-3, 9-0)
3 Colorado State (10-3, 7-2)
4 Nevada (10-5, 5-3)
5 San Diego State (9-4, 3-3)
6 UNLV (4-6, 2-2)
7 Fresno State (5-6, 3-6)
8 Wyoming (8-5, 2-4)
9 Air Force (4-8, 2-6)
10 New Mexico (4-8, 0-8)
11 San Jose State (2-10, 0-8)
Here is all you need to know about Friday night’s tilt in Laramie:
WHO: Nevada (10-5, 5-3) at Wyoming (8-5, 2-4)
WHEN: Friday, Jan. 22 at 6 p.m. MST
WHERE: Arena-Auditorium, Laramie, Wyo.
TV: Mountain West Digital Network
RADIO: Wyoming affiliates
TICKETS: No fans allowed
BOX SCORE: Live stats
ROSTERS: Wyoming / Nevada
VEGAS ODDS: Nevada -3, O/U 148
HISTORY: UW leads the all-time series 15-9 (Wyoming knocked off Nevada 74-71 in the second round of last year’s MWC Tournament)
HEAD COACHES: Jeff Linder / Steve Alford