GAME NOTES: Tied with New Mexico for second place in the Mountain West Conference standings, the Nevada Wolf Pack will try to remain hot this afternoon as they challenge the Wyoming Cowboys at Arena Auditorium.
The Pack has played a total of six games in the month of January and all but one have ended up in the win column. Three nights ago, the program was pushed to double-overtime versus Fresno State and managed to escape with a 96-86 victory on the road at the Save Mart Center, giving Nevada five wins in six tries in MWC action.
As for the Cowboys, they have two fewer league wins than Nevada, yet they are right behind in the standings in fourth place. The good news for the Pokes is that they are riding a three-game win streak, thanks to a 66-59 triumph over Air Force on the road on Wednesday night at Clune Arena.
The Cowboys leads the all-time series by a count of 10-2, a relationship that dates back to 1938, but the most recent meeting went to Nevada three weeks ago in Reno by a score of 61-58. In that contest Wyoming, which is 5-1 versus the Pack in Laramie, had a chance to take a late lead but Larry Nance Jr. missed a jumper with two seconds remaining.
After scoring just six points in the first overtime, the Wolf Pack turned it on in the second bonus frame with 14 points, while limiting Fresno State to only four points. Deonte Burton tallied 32 points, hitting 14-of-20 from the floor, a huge improvement from his effort against Boise State (1-of-8) in the previous outing. Cole Huff accounted for 31 points and Jerry Evans 15, while AJ West responded with 13 rebounds and eight blocked shots.
Burton is still the leading scorer for the Wolf Pack with his 21.5 ppg, hitting field goals at a 48.1 percent clip while also pacing the program with 75 assists and 33 steals as well. Evans chips in another 13.2 ppg, followed by Michael Perez (12.1 ppg) and Huff (11.6 ppg), while West (8.4 ppg) has his moments with a team-best 7.6 rpg and 23 of their 81 blocked shots. Nevada is posting a solid 74.7 ppg, but at the same time giving up 75.5 ppg.
The Cowboys actually trailed Air Force at the break in the last outing, but then the visitors exploded for not only 61.1 percent accuracy from the floor, but also a perfect 14-of-14 at the free-throw line, en route to the seven- point triumph. Nance cranked out a game-high 20 points and nine rebounds, adding three blocked shots as well, while Josh Adams and Nathan Sobey pitched in with 17 and 10 points, respectively.
After converting all but two of their 25 free throws last time out, the Cowboys are now hitting at a 73.5 percent clip at the charity stripe, outscoring the competition by a 302-203 margin over 18 games. Nance (16.1 ppg) has done his own share of damage at the line (.760), as has Adams (11.9 ppg) who has converted 79.2 percent. The other double-digit scorer for the Pokes is Riley Grabau with his 10.6 ppg, thanks in part to an astounding 90.2 percent at the stripe.
As one of the top defensive teams in the country, Wyoming is holding its opponents to just 60.6 ppg at the moment and with revenge as a motivating factor, a win over the Pack can't be far off.
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