OREGON STATE BEAVERS (0-1) at NEVADA WOLF PACK (1-1)
Saturday, Nov. 22, 2008 - 7:05 p.m. PT - Lawlor Events Center (11,536) - Reno, Nev.
TELEVISION: Live internet streaming at www.nevadawolfpack.com (nominal fee)
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 6:35 p.m. PT
SERIES HISTORY: The series between Oregon State and Nevada is tied 4-4.
LAST MEETING: Nevada has won the last four meetings between the two teams, including a 75-47 win on Nov. 15, 2006 at Gill Coliseum in Corvallis, Ore.
Coming off a 65-51 loss at San Diego on Tuesday, the five-time defending Western Athletic Conference champion Nevada Wolf Pack (1-1) will take on the Oregon State Beavers (0-1) on Saturday, Nov. 22 in its home opener. Saturday’s game at Lawlor Events Center will tip off at 7:05 p.m. and can be heard on Nevada’s radio flagship, ESPN 630 AM, with Ryan Radtke calling the action. The Wolf Pack has won its last five home openers, while the team has won 12 of its last 14 games overall at Lawlor Events Center. Following Saturday night’s game, Nevada will play host to Pacific on Wednesday, Nov. 26 before hitting the road for another pair of contests, part of a stretch of four of six away from home to begin the year.
Under the direction of fifth-year head coach Mark Fox, the Wolf Pack returns 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.
WINNING AT LAWLOR
The Wolf Pack has won 37 of its last 41 contests at Lawlor Events Center, including 12 of its last 14 home games last season. Including a 13-3 mark in 2007-08, the Wolf Pack has turned in a 73-9 record at Lawlor Events Center since the start of the 2003-04 season (.890 winning percentage). Nevada’s loss to California on Nov. 28, 2008 snapped the team’s 13-game home winning streak. The streak had been the longest active home winning streak in the WAC and the 12th-longest in the nation. Prior to the Cal loss, Nevada had not dropped a home contest since falling to UNLV on Dec. 9, 2006.
Nevada has also captured 20 of its last 21 WAC regular-season home games and 23 of its last 25 home games against WAC opponents counting the 2006 WAC Tournament. A Jan. 19, 2008 loss to Boise State snapped the Wolf Pack’s 14-game winning streak in WAC home games, including a perfect 8-0 mark in 2006-07 and a 2-0 mark to start the 2007-08 season (finished 7-1). That 14-game win streak had dated back to January of 2006.
ABOUT THE OREGON STATE BEAVERS
Under the direction of first-year head coach Craig Robinson, the Oregon State Beavers return four starters and 10 letterwinners from last year’s 6-25 team. The team is also joined by six newcomers. Oregon State finished in 10th place in the Pac-10 last year with an 0-18 league mark. The Beavers are 0-1 after opening the 2008-09 season with a 47-45 loss at Howard on Nov. 14.
Junior guard/forward Seth Tarver (6-3, 185) is Oregon State’s top returning scorer and rebounder after averaging 9.6 points and 4.6 boards per contest last season. He led the Beavers with 10 points in their season-opening loss at Howard.
IN THE SERIES
The series between Nevada and Oregon State is tied at 4-4. The Wolf Pack has won the last four meetings between the two teams, including a 75-47 victory on Nov. 15, 2006 in Corvallis, Ore. The series between the Wolf Pack and the Beavers dates back to the 1921-22 season, while prior to 2006-07, the teams had previously met when Nevada turned in a 62-61 victory in the National Invitational Tournament in March of 1979 in Corvallis, Ore. The Wolf Pack is 30-65 all time against teams from the Pac-10 Conference.
LAST TIME OUT
Rob Jones scored 23 points and Gyno Pomare added 12 in his first game to lead San Diego to a 65-51 win over Nevada on Nov. 18 at USD’s Jenny Craig Pavilion.
Jones hit 10 of 12 shots, including two to start the second half as the Toreros increased their 10-point halftime lead to 43-27.
Nevada, shot 32.7 percent from the field, including 24.1 percent in the second half as it fell behind by as many as 25 points. Joey Shaw led Nevada with 16 points and Malik Cooke had 13.
Pomare saw his first action after serving a one-game suspension, He was 6-for-7 from the floor in 17 minutes off the bench. Brandon Johnson scored 13 points for San Diego, which shot 54 percent from the floor. The Toreros made 66.7 percent of their shots in the first half when they took a 37-27 halftime lead.
WOLF PACK NEWS & NOTES
- The Wolf Pack has won its last five home openers, including a 67-54 victory over Santa Clara last year on Nov. 17, 2007 at Lawlor Events Center. The team has not dropped a home opener since the 2002-03 season.
- Sophomore Armon Johnson is leading the Wolf Pack and tied for 12th in the WAC with 13.0 points per game. He is leading three Nevada players in double figures for scoring with junior Joey Shaw and freshman Luke Babbitt each adding 11.5 points per contest. Babbitt is also Nevada’s top rebounder and ranks sixth in the WAC with 8.5 boards per game.
- Nevada is leading the WAC in free throw percentage, hitting 77.3 percent of its attempts from the charity stripe so far this season (34-44). Shaw and junior Ray Kraemer have both made all four of his free throw attempts this season, while senior Lyndale Burleson is 6-of-7 from the line (.857) and Johnson is 9-of-12 (.750).
- Through two games, the Wolf Pack is averaging 6.0 blocks per game, which ranks second in the WAC. Freshman Dario Hunt has blocked a pair of shots in each of Nevada’s first two contests and is tied for third in the WAC (2.0 bpg).
NEVADA IN SEASON OPENERS
Including its Nov. 15 win at Montana State, Nevada has now won five of its last six regular-season openers and 13 of the last 15 dating back to the 1994-95 season. Last year, the Wolf Pack had its streak of four consecutive season-opening wins snapped with a 63-60 loss at Central Florida on Nov. 11, 2007. Prior to that, the Wolf Pack had had not opened the year with a loss since falling at San Diego 77-75 on Nov. 23, 2002 to start the 2002-03 campaign. The Wolf Pack holds a 53-43 all-time record in season openers, while fifth-year head coach Mark Fox is 4-1 in his first five season openers.
This year marks the second consecutive year that Nevada will open the season with a pair of road games. Last season, the Wolf Pack crisscrossed the country to open the year, traveling more than 5,800 miles with games at UCF (Nov. 11) and UC Irvine (Nov. 13). Last year also marked the first time since 2002 that Nevada opened the season on the road.
In 2006-07, Nevada turned in an 85-62 victory over Alaska-Anchorage on Nov. 10, 2006 at Lawlor Events Center. In 2005-06, Nevada started the year with an 82-74 win over Sacramento State on Nov. 19, 2005 at Lawlor Events Center, while the team downed Colorado-Colorado Springs 88-33 on Nov. 20, 2004 to give Fox his first win as a collegiate head coach.
The Wolf Pack returns two starters and seven letterwinners from last year’s 21-12 team, including sophomore guard Armon Johnson. The 2008 WAC Freshman of the Year, Johnson started 32 of 33 games last season and finished fourth on the team with 11.5 points and 4.0 rebounds per game. He also led the team and ranked sixth in the WAC with 3.4 assists per contest. Other returning letterwinners includer senior guard Lyndale Burleson, junior guards Brandon Fields and Ray Kraemer, junior forward Richie Phillips and sophomore forwards Malik Cooke and Adam Carp.
Nevada’s roster features five new faces in junior Joey Shaw and true freshmen Luke Babbitt, London Giles, Dario Hunt and Ahyaro Phillips. Shaw started his collegiate career at Indiana University and comes to Nevada after earning second-team all-conference honors at the College of Southern Idaho last season. Babbitt was named a McDonald's All-American honors at Reno's Galena High School last season, while Giles comes to Nevada from Kimball High School in Dallas, Texas, where he was named the offensive MVP of his district and a second-team all-area selection by the Dallas Morning News. Hunt earned all-league honors at Charis Prep School in Goldsboro, N.C., after averaging a double-double, while Phillips graduated from Fork Union (Va.) Military Academy where he averaged a double-double as a senior.
NEVADA TOP WAC TEAM OVER LAST FIVE YEARS
Over the last five seasons dating back to 2003-04, Nevada has turned in a 128-40 record, the best record of any WAC team during that time (.762 winning percentage). In conference games, Nevada has won 68 games, the most in that same time period.
PACK PICKED TO WIN WAC BY COACHES AND MEDIA
Nevada has been picked to win the Western Athletic Conference in 2008-09 by the league’s coaches and media, while sophomore guard Armon Johnson, freshman forward Luke Babbitt and junior guard Brandon Fields garnered individual recognition.
The Wolf Pack received seven first-place votes and 63 points from the coaches, while in the media poll, Nevada received 255 points and 20 first-place votes.
Johnson was named the WAC Preseason Player of the Year by the league’s nine coaches, while Babbitt was the media’s pick for Preseason Newcomer of the Year. Johnson earned first-team preseason honors from both the media and the coaches, while Babbitt and Fields were second-team selections by the coaches.
ON THE ROAD
Nevada has won 28 of its last 44 games away from the friendly confines of Lawlor Events Center, including 23 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 11 of its last 21 regular-season road contests and 22 of its last 33 and turned in a 7-9 road mark last season. 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 four-plus seasons since the start of the 2004-05 campaign, the Wolf Pack has tallied a 39-17 record in road contests (.696 winning percentage). That includes a 26-8 record in WAC road games (.765).
FIVE-TIME WAC CHAMPIONS
With a 12-4 mark in conference action, Nevada finished in a tie for first in the WAC in 2007-08, capturing a share of its fifth consecutive WAC regular-season championship. Nevada had captured sole possession of the WAC regular-season crown in each of the three previous seasons (2005, 06, 07) and shared the title with UTEP in 2004. In 2007, the Wolf Pack finished with a 14-2 record in conference play, while the team was 13-3 in 2006. Nevada won the regular-season crown with a WAC-record 16-2 conference mark in 2005, while in 2004, Nevada tied for first with a 13-5 record in WAC play.
NEVADA NOTCHES FIFTH STRAIGHT 20-WIN SEASON
With its March 8, 2008 regular-season finale victory at Fresno State last year, Nevada notched its fifth consecutive season with at least 20 wins. It also marked the 10th 20-win season in school history and the fourth for Mark Fox, who is the only coach in school history to lead more than one team to at least 20 victories. In each of the previous four years, Nevada had won at least 25 games (25-9 in 2003-04, 25-7 in 2004-05, 27-6 in 2005-06 and a school-record 29-5 in 2006-07).
Nevada has also turned in a school-record seven consecutive winning seasons dating back to the 2001-02 campaign (three under former Pack head coach Trent Johnson and four under Fox). The previous long stretch was six from 1986-87 to 1991-92.
FOX RETURNS FOR FIFTH SEASON
Nevada head coach Mark Fox holds a 103-31 career record in four-plus seasons at the helm of the Wolf Pack program (.769 winning percentage) and is already fourth in all-time wins at Nevada. He is the first coach in school history to lead his squad to four consecutive 20-win seasons and three NCAA Tournament appearances.
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.
Following Saturday’s game with Oregon State, the Wolf Pack will wrap up its two-game homestand with Pacific on Wednesday, Nov. 26 at Lawlor Events Center. Nevada then returns to the road for a pair of games at Portland (Nov. 29) and Colorado State (Dec. 2) to end a stretch of four of six contests away from home to open the season.