NEVADA WOLF PACK (13-10, 6-4 WAC) at SAN JOSE ST. SPARTANS (10-11, 4-6 WAC)
Thursday, Feb. 12, 2009 - 7 p.m. PT - The Event Center (5,000) - San Jose, Calif.
TELEVISION: KAME-TV 21, Comcast SportsNet California, ESPN Full Court & ESPN360.com
Rich Cellini (play-by-play) & Dave Bollwinkel (analyst)
RADIO: University of Nevada Sports Network (ESPN Radio 630 AM, Reno;
KELK 1240 AM, Elko; KHWG 750 AM, Fallon & KSVL 92.3 FM, Yerington)
Ryan Radtke (play-by-play), pregame show starts at 6:30 p.m. PT
SERIES HISTORY: San Jose State leads the all-time series 47-41.
LAST MEETING: Nevada won the last meeting between the two teams, turning in an 84-46 win over San Jose State on Feb. 7, 2008 in Reno, Nev.
Coming off a 62-60 loss to New Mexico State on Saturday, the Nevada Wolf Pack (13-10, 6-4 WAC) returns to the road this week, traveling to San Jose, Calif., to take on the San Jose State Spartans (10-11, 4-6) on Thursday, Feb. 12. Thursday’s game at the Event Center will tip off at 7 p.m. Pacific Time and will be broadcast locally on KAME-TV 21, regionally on Comcast SportsNet California and nationally as part of ESPN’s Full Court package. It can also be heard on Nevada’s radio flagship, ESPN 630 AM, and affiliates throughout the state with Ryan Radtke calling the action. After dropping three of its last four games, Nevada is now tied for second in the WAC standings with a 6-4 record, while San Jose State is sixth at 4-6. The team heads on the road this week looking to snap a two-game losing streak and capture its 12th win in the last 13 meetings with San Jose State. Following Thursday’s game with the Spartans, Nevada continues its road trip, traveling to Hawai’i (12-11, 4-7) on Saturday, Feb. 14.
Under the direction of fifth-year head coach Mark Fox, the Wolf Pack returned two starters and a total of seven letterwinners from last year’s 21-12 team, including the coaches’ preseason WAC Player of the Year Armon Johnson who started 32 of 33 games last season as a true freshman. This year’s team also features five new faces (a junior college transfer and four true freshmen). Last season, Nevada turned in its fifth consecutive year with at least 20 wins, won its fifth straight WAC regular-season title and earned the team’s six consecutive postseason appearance with an invitation to the inaugural College Basketball Invitational.
ON THE ROAD
Nevada has won 32 of its last 51 games away from the friendly confines of Lawlor Events Center, including 27 road wins and five neutral-site victories (dating back to midway through the 2005-06 season). In 2006-07, the team turned in a 14-4 record away from home, including a 10-2 road mark and a 4-2 record in neutral-site games. The Wolf Pack has won 15 of its last 28 regular-season road contests and 26 of its last 40 and turned in a 7-9 road mark last season (5-4 this year, 3-1 in WAC play). In 2006-07, the team saw an 11-game regular-season road winning streak snapped with a Jan. 20, 2007 loss at New Mexico State. Prior to that, the team had not dropped a road contest since falling at Fresno State on Jan. 18, 2006.
In the last five seasons since the start of the 2004-05 campaign, the Wolf Pack has tallied a 43-20 record in road contests (.683 winning percentage). That includes a 29-9 record in WAC road games (.763).
ABOUT THE SAN JOSE STATE SPARTANS
San Jose State brings a 10-11 overall mark into Thursday’s game with Nevada and is sixth in the league with a 4-6 WAC record. The Spartans dropped their only game last week with an 89-83 loss to Boise State on Feb. 7 in San Jose, while the team split games at New Mexico State and Louisiana Tech the previous weekend. Under the direction of fourth-year head coach George Nessman (34-80 record at SJSU), the Spartans returned all five starters and eight letterwinners from last year’s 13-19 team. San Jose State finished eighth in the WAC last season with a 4-12 league mark.
Sophomore guard Adrian Oliver (6-4, 210), a transfer from the University of Washington, is leading the Spartans in scoring with 19.5 points per game in 12 contests, including a career-best 37 points in last week’s loss to Boise State. He leads the WAC in scoring in WAC play with 19.3 points per league contest. Senior forward Tim Pierce (6-7, 215) is second on the team and 10th in the WAC with 13.9 points per game. The Spartans also have three players ranked among the league’s top rebounders in junior center Chris Oakes (6-10, 235) who ranks second with 8.0 rebounds per game, junior forward C.J. Webster (6-9, 255) who checks in at eighth with 6.6 boards per game and Pierce who is ninth at 6.5 rebounds per contest.
IN THE SERIES
San Jose State leads the all-time series with Nevada 47-41, while the Wolf Pack has gotten the best of the series recently, winning 11 of the last 12 meetings between the two teams. The two teams split last year’s meetings with the Spartans snapping a 10-game Wolf Pack winning streak in the series with a 62-60 victory on Jan. 10, 2008 in San Jose, Calif., and Nevada turning in an 84-46 victory on Feb. 7, 2008 in Reno. The Wolf Pack has also won the five of the last six games played in San Jose.
LAST TIME OUT
Jahmar Young scored 17 points and Wendell McKines hit a three-pointer with 58 seconds left to lift New Mexico State over Nevada 62-60 on Saturday at Lawlor Events Center.
McKines had 10 rebounds and 13 points, including the game-winning shot for the Aggies, while Hamidu Rahman added 11 points for New Mexico State.
Sophomore Armon Johnson has 16 points for the Wolf Pack and hit a driving layup with 1:28 left that put Nevada on top 60-59.
But the Aggies responded with McKines’ long three-pointer from the top of the key. Nevada had a chance to win the game in the final seconds, but freshman Luke Babbitt's three-point attempt bounced off the rim at the buzzer. Babbitt had 14 points for the Wolf Pack.
New Mexico State's defense forced Nevada into 16 turnovers and scored 21 points off turnovers.
Nevada led by as many as 10 points in the first half, going up 26-16 on a steal and layup by senior Lyndale Burleson with 7:41 left in the half, but New Mexico State responded with an 11-0 run to take a 27-26 lead with 3:24 left. The Aggies led 33-32 at halftime.
BABBITT OPENS ROOKIE CAMPAIGN STRONG
Winner of two WAC Player-of-the-Week awards this season, freshman Luke Babbitt has opened his first season in the Silver and Blue in strong fashion, leading the team in both scoring and rebounding this season. The McDonald’s High School All-American is averaging 16.5 points per game and ranks fourth in the WAC as well as fifth among the nation’s freshmen in scoring. Babbitt is also leading the Pack in both categories in conference play, checking in at third in the WAC with 17.9 points and second with 8.2 rebounds per conference contest.
He has turned in seven 20-point games this season, including a career-best 24 points Jan. 31 at Idaho and 23 Feb. 5 vs. La Tech. He has also scored 22 points three times and has led the team in scoring in 11 of 23 games, including six of the last 12. He has been in double figures for scoring in all but two contests this year and hit the game-winning three-pointer as time expired for 15 points in the Jan. 10 win at Louisiana Tech.
Babbitt checks in at third in the WAC with 7.6 rebounds per contest. He has led the Wolf Pack in rebounding 13 times this season (including six of the last nine games), most recently pulling down six boards Feb. 5 vs. La Tech. He has turned in five games with 10 or more rebounds, including a career-best 13 boards Jan. 17 vs. Fresno State. Babbitt also leads the Wolf Pack with five double-doubles, including 24 points and 10 rebounds Jan. 31 at Idaho. He turned in his first career double-double in his collegiate debut, tallying 20 points and a career-high 12 rebounds Nov. 15 at Montana State.
Babbitt has a chance to become the first Wolf Pack freshman to lead the team in scoring since Terrance Green paced the squad with 13.9 points per game in 1999-2000. He could also become the first freshman to pace the Wolf Pack in rebounding since Nick Fazekas averaged 7.6 boards per game in 2003-04. Since 1972-73, Nevada has never had a freshman lead the team in both categories, while the Wolf Pack has had just two rookies lead the team in scoring (Green & Edgar Jones in 1975-75) and two pace the squad in rebounding (Fazekas and Pete Padgett in 1972-73) in that span. With 379 points on the year, he is also closing in on Nevada’s freshman scoring record of 457 points set by Edgar Jones in 1975-76.
NATION’S TOP FRESHMEN SCORERS IN 2008-09
Name, School PPG
1. Seth Curry, Liberty 20.3
2. Sylven Landesberg, Virginia 17.9
3. Mike Rosario, Rutgers 17.5
4. Tyreke Evans, Memphis 17.0
5. Luke Babbitt, Nevada 16.5
6. Paul George, Fresno State 15.9
7. Afam Muojeke, Wyoming 15.1
8. Willie Warren, Oklahoma 15.0
9. Courtney Fortson, Arkansas 14.8
10. Keith Gabriel, VMI 14.5
11. Samardo Samuels, Louisville 12.3
12. Alex Young, IUPUI 11.2
NEVADA’S ALL-TIME TOP FRESHMAN SCORERS
Name, Year Points
1. Edgar Jones, 1975-76 457
2. Nick Fazekas, 2003-04 429
3. Pete Padgett, 1972-73 416
4. Terrance Green, 1999-00 402
5. Luke Babbitt, 2008-09 380
6. Armon Johnson, 2007-08 379
7. Ric Herrin, 1989-90 273
HUNT SETS NEVADA ROOKIE RECORD FOR BLOCKED SHOTS
With 52 blocked shots already this season, freshman Dario Hunt has set Nevada’s freshman single-season record, passing the 44 rejections that Wolf Pack great Nick Fazekas had in his rookie campaign in 2003-04. Hunt leads the WAC and ranks 34th in the country with 2.26 blocks per game overall, while he also paces the WAC with 3.00 blocks per league game. With his five blocks last Saturday vs. New Mexico State, he moved into fourth on Nevada’s single-season chart. Hunt blocked a career-best six shots in a Jan. 31 win at Idaho, besting his previous high of five Jan. 8 at New Mexico State. He has blocked at least one shot in 20 of 23 games this year, including 17 with two or more.
As a team, Nevada leads the WAC and ranks 27th in the nation with 5.09 blocked shots per game with a season high of 12 Dec. 9 vs. Sonoma State.
NEVADA SINGLE-SEASON BLOCKS
Name, Year Games Blocks
1. Edgar Jones, 1977-78 27 96 (3.6 per game)
2. JaVale McGee, 2007-08 33 92 (2.8)
3. Greg Palm, 1981-82 28 55 (2.0)
4. Dario Hunt, 2008-09 23 52 (2.3)
5. Nick Fazekas, 2004-05 32 51 (1.6)
6. Nick Fazekas, 2005-06 33 49 (1.5)
7. Nick Fazekas, 2006-07 32 48 (1.5)
Greg Palm, 1980-81 26 48 (1.8)
WIPING THE GLASS
The Wolf Pack has outrebounded each of its last 12 opponents, including a 39-36 advantage Feb. 7 vs. New Mexico State. Nevada is now 10-6 on the year when outrebounding its opponents. The team outrebounded Idaho 44-32 on Jan. 31, and the +12 advantage vs. the Vandals was the second-highest rebounding margin for the Wolf Pack this season, surpassed only by a 14-board advantage Dec. 9 vs. Sonoma State (52-38).
On Jan. 8 at New Mexico State, Nevada was down 27-17 in the rebounding battle at the half but outboarded the Aggies 34-16 in the final 25 minutes on Jan. 8 (51-43 in the game). The 51 rebounds were one shy of the team's season high of 52 Dec. 9 vs. Sonoma State.
As a team, Nevada leads the WAC in rebounding offense with 37.8 boards per game and ranks second in offensive rebounding with 12.74 offensive boards per contest. In WAC games, Nevada is also pulling down a league-best 39.5 rebounds per game.
Freshman Luke Babbitt is the team’s top rebounder, checking in at third in the WAC with 7.6 boards per game and second with 8.2 rebounds per league tilt. He pulled down a career-high 13 rebounds Jan. 17 vs. Fresno State and has tallied 12 in two other games this year (at Montana State and at New Mexico State). Sophomore Malik Cooke ranks second on the team and 10th in the WAC with 6.3 rebounds per contest, including a career-best 12 boards Jan. 31 at Idaho. Cooke is Nevada’s best offensive rebounder this season, checking in at second in the WAC with 2.96 offensive rebounds per game this year, and is averaging 7.2 boards per contest in league play (second on the team and tied for fifth in the WAC). Cooke turned in his first career double-double with 12 points and a then career-best 10 rebounds Jan. 22 vs. Hawai’i and has been in double figures for rebounds four times this season.
JOHNSON TURNS IT ON
Sophomore Armon Johnson is now second on the team and seventh in the WAC with 14.9 points per contest. The preseason WAC Player of the Year has paced the team in scoring eight times this year, including 27 points Feb. 5 vs. La Tech and a career-high 33 points on Dec. 20 at California. In the last 18 games, Johnson has turned in 16.2 points per game (292 points).
Johnson has had a knack for big second halves this year, including 27 of his career-high 33 points in the second half at Cal, 14 of 20 in the second half and overtime Jan. 8 at New Mexico State and 16 of 25 in the final 20 minutes Jan. 15 vs. Boise State. Against the Bears, he scored Nevada's first seven points of the half and 13 of its last 15 in the game. Johnson also scored 13 of his points in the second half Dec. 31 vs. top-ranked North Carolina, 14 of his in the second half Dec. 2 at Colorado State, 14 of 16 in the final 20 minutes Dec. 14 vs. Southern Illinois and 18 of 27 in the second half Feb. 5 vs. Louisiana Tech.
Johnson is also leading the team in assists for the second year in a row. He ranks fifth in the WAC with 4.26 assists per game this year and is third in the conference in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.88, 98 assists and just 52 turnovers). He turned in seven assists with no turnovers in the Dec. 17 win over Arkansas-Pine Bluff as well as the Jan. 10 win at La Tech and has had just one turnover in eight other games this season (most recently three assists and one turnover Jan. 31 at Idaho). He dished out a career-high 11 assists in the Nov. 22 win over Oregon State. He also added 11 points vs. the Beavers for his first career double-double and the Wolf Pack’s first points-assists double-double since Ramon Sessions had 11 points and 10 assists in an 84-66 victory over Boise State on Jan. 15, 2005.
FOX MOVES INTO THIRD IN ALL-TIME WINS AT NEVADA
With Nevada’s 69-65 win Jan. 31 at Idaho, Nevada head coach Mark Fox moved into sole possession of third on the Wolf Pack’s all-time wins list, passing Sonny Allen (114-89 record in seven seasons from 1980-87). Fox holds a 115-40 career record in his five seasons at the helm of the Wolf Pack program (.742 winning percentage). He is the first coach in school history to lead his squad to four consecutive 20-win seasons and three NCAA Tournament appearances, while his winning percentage ranks first among all of Nevada’s head coaches.
Nevada’s March 1, 2008 victory over Louisiana Tech gave Fox the 100th win of his career. He tied for 21st on the NCAA's list of fastest coaches to reach 100 wins (among coaches with at least half of their seasons at the Division I level). Duke's Vic Bubas also took 128 wins to reach the milestone, doing it in his fifth season (1964). Fox also became the fastest coach in school history to reach the 100-win plateau. It took Jake Lawlor, the winningest coach in school history, seven seasons (10th game into that season) and 168 games to hit that milestone, while Sonny Allen reached the mark in the first game of his seventh season (100 wins in 174 games). Nevada has seen three of its previous head coaches notch at least 100 wins, including Lawlor (201-159 career record), Allen (114-89) and Jack Spencer (123-199).
Fox’s 81 wins after his first three seasons were tied with Gonzaga's Mark Few for the most victories in Division I history by a coach through three seasons (81-18 record in his first three seasons). Fox was named the Don Haskins Coach of the Year in each of his first three seasons as Nevada’s head coach to become the first coach in WAC history to earn the honor in three consecutive years. He was also one of 15 finalists for the 2007 Jim Phelan National Coach of the Year Award and was named the 2007 National Association of Basketball Coaches District 13 Coach of the Year.
NEVADA’S WINNINGEST COACHES (by wins)
Name (Years) Career Record (Win. Pct.)
1. Jake Lawlor (1942-43, 45-49) 201-159 (.558)
2. Jack Spencer (1959-72) 123-199 (.382)
3. Mark Fox (2004-pres.) 115-40 (.742)
4. Sonny Allen (1980-87) 114-89 (.562)
5. Len Stevens (1987-93) 91-79 (.535)
6. Pat Foster (1993-99) 90-81 (.526)
SUCCESS AT THE CHARITY STRIPE
Nevada ranks third in the WAC in free throw percentage this season, knocking down 72.1 percent of its attempts from the line (395-548). Nevada made a season-high 87.5 percent of its free throws in its Dec. 14 win over Southern Illinois (21-24), besting its previous high of 87.1 percent Dec. 9 vs. Sonoma State (27-31). The team has been over 80 percent at the line three times this year, most recently knocking down 81.3 percent of its attempts Jan. 22 vs. Hawai’i (26-32).
Freshman Luke Babbitt is shooting 83.0 percent from the line (93-112) to rank fifth in the WAC, including all eight of his attempts Dec. 14 vs. Southern Illinois and Dec. 27 vs. Idaho State. Junior Ray Kraemer has made 22-of-24 of his free throw attempts on the year (.917) and would lead the WAC, while junior Joey Shaw is shooting 77.8 percent (35-45) which would rank seventh, but both players fall short of the league’s 2.0 minimum per game. Sophomore Armon Johnson checks in at eighth in the WAC at 77.4 percent (82-106), including a perfect 7-for-7 night Feb. 5 vs. La Tech.
WOLF PACK NEWS & NOTES
- Nevada has lost its last two games by a combined five points and is 4-4 on the year in games decided by five points or less.
- Freshman Luke Babbitt is shooting 43.1 percent from three-point land this year (25-58), which would rank among the WAC’s leaders, but he falls short of the league minimum of 2.0 made per game. He has made all three of his attempts Jan. 29 at Utah State, tying his career best for three-pointers made, and was 2-of-2 Feb. 5 vs. Utah State.
- Nevada turned in season lows for free throws made (5), attempted (11) and free throw percentage (.455) in Saturday’s loss to NMSU.
- Nevada’s Feb. 5 game with La Tech marked the third time this year that the Wolf Pack has had two players score at least 20 points (at Colorado State and at New Mexico State were the other two games). Sophomore Armon Johnson led the team with 27 points, the second-most points of his career, while freshman Luke Babbitt added 23 points, just one off his career high of 24 set on Jan. 31 at Idaho. Babbitt was 9-of-11 from the field, including both of his three-point attempts, and made all three of his free throw attempts Feb. 5 vs. La Tech.
- Sophomore Malik Cooke nabbed five of Nevada’s nine steals Jan. 31 at Idaho, one short of his career high of six Dec. 6 vs. UNLV. Cooke ranks second in the WAC with 1.83 steals per game and tied for first with 2.00 thefts per conference game. The Wolf Pack turned in a season-high 12 steals in its Nov. 22 win over Oregon State with four by junior Joey Shaw and three apiece by freshman Luke Babbitt and Cooke, and matched that with 12 in the Dec. 17 win over Arkansas-Pine Bluff. Cooke also added four steals Dec. 31 vs. No. 1 North Carolina and again Jan. 22 vs. Hawai’i. As a team, Nevada leads the WAC with 7.17 steals per contest.
- Junior Joey Shaw scored 15 points on 5-of-8 shooting, including a pair of three-pointers, in just 14 minutes Jan. 31 at Idaho. That marked the most points for Shaw since he scored a career-best 21 Dec. 2 at Colorado State.
- In WAC play, Nevada leads the conference in rebounding offense and ranks fourth in scoring offense, averaging 70.0 points and 39.5 rebounds per league game. Those numbers are up from 69.6 ppg and 37.9 rpg in all contests. The Wolf Pack also paces the WAC in offensive rebounds (14.20) in conference play.
- Nevada is second in the WAC in turnover margin at +1.52 and ranked 28th in the country with just 12.1 turnovers per game, including a season-low six Feb. 5 vs. La Tech and Nov. 15 at Montana State. Senior Lyndale Burleson has the best assist-to-turnover ratio on the squad at 2.21 (42 assists and just 19 turnovers) and would rank third in the WAC but falls short of the minimum of 3.0 assists per game. Burleson has not turned the ball over in 10 of 23 contests this season.
- The Wolf Pack is getting 67.0 percent of its scoring (1072 points) and 63.8 percent of its rebounding (554 rebounds) from its freshmen and sophomores this season.
- The Wolf Pack tied its season-best three-point outing Jan. 29 at Utah State, knocking down 50 percent of its three-pointers in the game (7-14), including a perfect 3-for-3 effort by freshman Luke Babbitt. The team also made 50 percent of its attempts from beyond the arc Dec. 9 vs. Sonoma State (6-12). Nevada tied its season high with nine three-pointers made and shot 47.4 percent from three-point land in its. Jan. 10 win at Louisiana Tech (9-19). Against the Bulldogs, Nevada got a career-high three treys from Babbitt (3-3), including the game-winner as time expired, while junior Brandon Fields made a season-best three (3-6) and senior Lyndale Burleson tied his career best with three (3-4).
- Junior Brandon Fields has led the team in scoring four times this season, most recently tying freshman Luke Babbitt for the squad lead with 19 points in a Jan. 22 win over Hawai’i. He paced the team in scoring three times all of last year. Fields scored a game- and season-high 21 points on 7-of-11 shooting from the field and 7-of-7 from the free throw line Dec. 17 vs. Arkansas-Pine Bluff and had 19 Jan. 3 vs. Idaho. Fields has turned in 10.6 points per game in the last 14 contests (149), up from his average of 9.0 points per game this season (fourth on the team and first among players coming off the bench).
- Sophomore Malik Cooke added a career-high 17 points Jan. 3 vs. the Vandals, the second time in three games that he had turned in a career best in scoring. He had a then career-high 15 points Dec. 27 against Idaho State and followed that up with 13 points Dec. 31 vs. North Carolina. Cooke made 6-of-10 attempts from the field, matching his career high with two three-pointers made, and went 3-of-3 from the free throw line vs. the Vandals. With 9.7 points per game in the last 12 contests (116 points), he has moved into third on the team in scoring with 9.2 points per contest.
- Cooke also ranks ninth in the WAC, knocking down 50.7 percent of his field goal attempts this season (72-142).
- Junior Ray Kraemer scored seven points in just five minutes Jan. 22 in the win over Hawai’i, making his only field goal attempt (a three-pointer) and knocking down all four of his free throw attempts.
- The Wolf Pack holds 3-6 mark on the year when trailing at the half. Nevada trailed 40-31 at halftime Jan. 8 at New Mexico State before downing the Aggies in overtime. On Jan. 10 at Louisiana Tech, Nevada was down 35-24 at the half and trailed 45-30 with 16:36 to play in the game before rallying for the victory.
- The Wolf Pack bench is averaging 21.3 points per game this season (491 points), and Nevada holds a 10-4 record when its bench outscores its opponent’s. In the last 16 games, the reserves have turned in 23.3 points per contest (373). Juniors Brandon Fields and Joey Shaw are Nevada’s leading scorers off the bench this year, averaging 9.0 and 7.4 points per game to rank fourth and fifth on the team, respectively. Nevada got a season-high 48 points from its bench in its Dec. 17 victory over Arkansas-Pine Bluff, including 21 points from Fields, nine from Shaw and a career-best eight from freshman London Giles.
- Including four games this year (4-0 record), Nevada has won 56 of its last 58 games when holding its opponent to 60 points or less, including a 13-1 record in 2005-06, a 6-1 mark in 2006-07 and a 6-0 record in 2007-08. Nevada held Sonoma State to a season-low 39 points Dec. 9.
- Nevada made a season-high 53.4 percent of its attempts from the field Dec. 9 vs. Sonoma State, besting its previous high of 51.7 percent from the field Dec. 2 at Colorado State. Nevada also turned in a season high from three-point land vs. Sonoma State (.500, 6-12).
- All 12 players scored for Nevada en route to the team’s season-high 95 points Dec. 9 vs. Sonoma State, led by freshman Luke Babbitt who had 16 on 6-of-10 shooting. Nevada also notched season bests for field goal percentage (.534), field goals made (31), three-point percentage (.500), free throws made (27) and attempted (31), free throw percentage (.871, 27-31 - since broken), rebounds (52), assists (24) and blocked shots (12) vs. the Seawolves.
- The Wolf Pack opened the year with a 2-3 record for the second consecutive season (now 13-10). Last year, Nevada turned in a 2-4 mark to start the year but won its next five games and finished the season with a 21-10 mark and a share of its fifth consecutive WAC regular-season championship. In 2003-04, Nevada also opened the year with a 2-3 mark. That year, the Wolf Pack opened the season with a win over Vermont before falling at then top-ranked Connecticut (both in the Preseason NIT). Nevada then turned in a 74-62 win at UNLV and dropped games at Portland and Pacific before reeling off wins in its next five games and seven of its next eight. The Wolf Pack finished with a 25-9 record that season, winning its first of four WAC regular-season championships and making the first NCAA Sweet Sixteen appearance in school history.
NEVADA TO TAKE ON VCU IN ESPNU BRACKETBUSTERS FRIDAY, FEB. 20
Nevada will play host to Virginia Commonwealth University on Friday, Feb. 20 at Lawlor Events Center in the ESPNU BracketBusters. ESPNU will televise the game to a national television audience with tip-off set for 6:05 p.m. Pacific Time.
This year will mark Nevada’s sixth appearance in the ESPNU BracketBusters, an event which was created in 2003 in conjunction with the Western Athletic Conference, ESPN and several other top college basketball conferences to match potential NCAA Tournament hopefuls against each other. This year will mark the fifth time in Nevada’s six appearances that the Wolf Pack will play at home in the ESPNU BracketBusters, while the team has turned in a 4-1 record in its previous five BracketBusters appearances (4-0 at home).
ESPN2, ESPNU and ESPN360.com will combine to televise the 13-game, 26-team event on Feb. 20-21. Six games will appear on ESPN2, five on ESPNU and the remaining two on ESPN360.com.
As part of the BracketBusters agreement, Nevada will travel to Richmond, Va., to play at VCU in 2008-09.
Under the direction of third-year head coach Anthony Grant, Virginia Commonwealth has turned in a 16-7 record this season and checks in at second in the Colonial Athletic Association standings with a 9-3 league mark. The Rams are led by 6-3, 175-pound senior guard Eric Maynor who is first in the CAA and ranks 10th in the nation in scoring at 23.1 points per game. Sophomore forward Larry Sanders (6-10, 220) paces the Rams and is third in the CAA with 7.4 rebounds per game and ranks second on the squad with 10.8 points per contest.
The Rams turned in a 24-8 record last season en route to their second consecutive Colonial Athletic Association regular-season championship and earned a bid to the National Invitational Tournament. In 2006-07, VCU racked up a school-record 28-7 overall mark, won CAA regular-season and tournament championships and advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
The WAC will have three teams competing in this year’s ESPNU BracketBusters. In addition to Nevada’s game with VCU, Utah State will play at Utah State and Boise State will travel to Portland State with both of those games set for Saturday, Feb. 21.
The other six WAC teams not selected to compete in the O’Reilly ESPNU BracketBusters will play non-conference opponents on that weekend.
Following Thursday’s game with San Jose State, the Wolf Pack continues its road trip on Saturday, Feb. 14, traveling to Honolulu to take on the Hawai’i Rainbow Warriors. Nevada returns home on Friday, Feb. 20 for its ESPNU BracketBusters matchup with Virginia Commonwealth.