NEVADA WOLF PACK (2-3) at COLORADO STATE RAMS (3-3)
Tuesday, Dec. 2, 2008 - 7 p.m. MT (6 p.m. PT) - Moby Arena (8,745) - Fort Collins, Colo.
TELEVISION: The Mtn. (Tim Neverett & Blaine Fowler)
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. MT (5:30 p.m. PT)
SERIES HISTORY: Nevada leads the all-time series with Colorado State 5-4.
LAST MEETING: Nevada won the last meeting between the two teams, turning in a 74-66 victory over Colorado State on Dec. 19, 2007, in Reno.
Following a 63-61 loss at Portland on Saturday, the five-time defending Western Athletic Conference champion Nevada Wolf Pack (2-3) returns to action on Tuesday, Dec. 2 at Colorado State (3-3). Tuesday’s game with the Rams will tip off at 7 p.m. Mountain Time (6 p.m. Pacific) at Moby Arena in Fort Collins, Colo. The Mtn. will televise the game, while it can also be heard on Nevada’s radio flagship, ESPN 630 AM, and affiliates with Ryan Radtke calling the action. The Wolf Pack heads to Colorado State looking to snap a two-game losing streak and concludes a stretch of four of six games away from home to start the season. Following Tuesday night’s game at Colorado State, the team will then return home for four straight contests and seven of its next eight, beginning on Saturday, Dec. 6 with UNLV.
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.
ON THE ROAD
Nevada has won 28 of its last 45 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 22 regular-season road contests and 22 of its last 34 and turned in a 7-9 road mark last season (1-2 this year). 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 39-18 record in road contests (.684 winning percentage). That includes a 26-8 record in WAC road games (.765).
ABOUT THE COLORADO STATE RAMS
Colorado State brings a 3-3 record into Tuesday’s game with the Wolf Pack, most recently downing New Orleans 78-60 on Nov. 26 at home and falling at San Francisco 65-63 on Nov. 29. Under the direction of second-year head coach Tim Miles (10-28 record at CSU), the Rams retun four starters and seven letterwinners from last year’s 7-25 team. Colorado State was ninth in the Mountain West Conference last year with an 0-16 mark.
Senior guard Marcus Walker (6-0, 175) is leading three Rams in double figures for scoring with 19.2 points, including 22 in Saturday’s loss at USF. He is joined by sophomore forward Andy Ogide (6-8, 240) at 16.2 points per game and sophomore forward Andre McFarland (6-6, 225) at 14.0. Ogide, a transfer from Ole Miss, is also the team’s top rebounding, pulling down 10.0 boards per contest.
IN THE SERIES
Nevada leads the series with Colorado State 5-4. The Wolf Pack turned in a 74-66 win over the Rams last year on Dec. 19 in Reno, snapping Colorado State’s three-game winning streak in the series. Last year’s meeting was the first for the two teams since the 1998-99 season when the Rams turned in a 66-49 win on Jan. 2, 1999 in Fort Collins, Colo.
LAST TIME OUT
Kramer Knutson scored 15 points as Portland survived a bad night at the foul line to beat Nevada 63-61 Saturday night at the Chiles Center in Portland, Ore.
Knutson hit six of seven shots from the field before fouling out late in the contest. Portland was only 10 of 22 at the foul line, but the Pilots hit seven of 15 3-point attempts.
Nevada's Luke Babbitt led all scorers with 17 points and also had a team-high eight rebounds.
Portland had its largest lead when Nik Raivio hit a 3-pointer to put the Pilots in front 58-48 with 8:29 left.
The Wolf Pack cut the deficit to 63-61 when Babbitt hit one of two foul shots with 40 seconds remaining and had a chance to tie the game, but Armon Johnson’s running jumper rolled off the back of the rim.
WOLF PACK NEWS & NOTES
- The Wolf Pack has opened the year with a 2-3 record for the second consecutive season. 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.
- Freshman Luke Babbitt is leading the Wolf Pack and ranked in the WAC’s top 10 in scoring and rebounding early this season. He is sixth in the league with 15.8 points per game and ranks fourth in the WAC with 8.2 rebounds per game. He has turned in a pair of career-high 20-point efforts on the season (at Montana State and vs. Oregon State) and has led the team in scoring in four of five games, including the last three. Babbitt has also paced the team in rebounding three times this season, including eight Saturday at Portland.
- Babbitt leads three Wolf Pack players in double figures for scoring this season. Sophomore Malik Cooke is turning in 11.4 points per game and junior Joey Shaw is at 10.0.
- Freshman Dario Hunt turned in career highs for both scoring and rebounding with nine points and seven rebounds in Saturday’s game at Portland. He also made his first career start in the game against the Pilots.
- Nevada had a season-high 18 turnovers in the game and shot a season-low 61.9 percent from the free throw line (10-22) in Saturday’s loss to the Pilots.
- Sophomore Armon Johnson dished out a career-high 11 assists in the Nov. 22 win over Oregon State to lead Nevada’s season-high 20-assist effort. Johnson also added 11 points for his first career double-double vs. the Beavers 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. After turning in seven assists (and only one turnover) Nov. 26 vs. Pacific, Johnson ranks second in the WAC with 5.60 assists per game this year and is third in assist-to-turnover ratio (2.55, 28 assists and 11 turnovers).
- Nevada ranks fifth in the WAC in free throw percentage, hitting 70.4 percent of its attempts from the charity stripe so far this season (76-108). Junior Ray Kraemer has made all eight of his free throw attempts on the year. Freshman Luke Babbitt is shooting 76.0 percent from the line (19-25), while junior Joey Shaw has made 10-of-16 (.727).
- The Wolf Pack shot a season-high 45.8 percent from the field (27-59), including a season-best 45.0 percent clip from three-point land (9-20), in its Nov. 22 win over Oregon State and made 44.9 percent of its attempts Saturday at Portland (22-49). The team made 5-of-8 of its three-point attempts in the second half against the Beavers. The Wolf Pack has shot just 35.4 percent overall (62-175) and 20.0 percent from three-point land (11-55) in its other three games this season.
- Nevada is averaging 13.0 offensive rebounds per contest this year, which is tied for second in the WAC this year. The team pulled down a season-high 18 offensive boards in its Nov. 15 season opener at Montana State and had 15 Nov. 26 vs. Pacific. Freshman Luke Babbitt leads the league with 3.4 offensive rebounds per game, while sophomore Malik Cooke is third at 3.2. Overall, Nevada is third in the WAC stats with 36.4 rebounds per 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 sophomore Malik Cooke. Shaw is third in the WAC with 1.8 steals per game and Cooke ranks seventh at 1.6. As a team, Nevada is third in the WAC stats with 7.40 steals per contest.
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 129-42 record, the best record of any WAC team during that time (.754 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.
WINNING AT LAWLOR
The Wolf Pack has won 38 of its last 43 contests at Lawlor Events Center, including 13 of its last 16 home games dating back to last season. Including a 13-3 mark in 2007-08, the Wolf Pack has turned in a 74-10 record at Lawlor Events Center since the start of the 2003-04 season (.881 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.
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 104-33 career record in four-plus seasons at the helm of the Wolf Pack program (.759 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.
After Wednesday’s game at Colorado State, Nevada will then return home for four straight games and seven of its next eight contests, starting with UNLV on Saturday, Dec. 6.