Friday, March 24, 2023
5-Hour Energy

MBB-FBS: Fresno State Bulldogs (9-14) at Nevada Wolfpack (19-6)

Coming off of an exhilarating 77-76 victory on the road over New Mexico, in which Kenan Blackshear hit a game-winning jump shot with 0.1 seconds left on the clock, the University of Nevada Men’s Basketball team will return home to face Fresno State this Friday. 

Game Preview

The Pack has won three consecutive games, and they will look to make it four straight against the Bulldogs, while also improving to 13-0 at home and earning their 20th victory of the season.

Nevada is currently one game back from first place in the Mountain West standings, as they will need to secure a victory over Fresno State to keep pace atop the conference. 

The Pack took down New Mexico on the road this past Tuesday in remarkable fashion, as Blackshear drilled an extremely difficult jumper that bounced around the rim multiple times before falling in, stunning the Lobos on the road. 

Jarod Lucas had one of the best games of his collegiate career, matching a career-high by dropping a game-high 28 points on 11-18 shooting from the field and an incredible mark of 6-9 from behind the arc. The 11 made field goals set a new career-high, and the six made 3-pointers matched a career-high for Lucas.

The 28 points scored extended Lucas’ streak of reaching double figures in scoring to 23 games, and the senior guard has eclipsed the mark in 24 of 25 games overall this season. Lucas continues to maintain pace atop the Mountain West in numerous offensive statistical categories. He currently ranks second in the conference in total points this season (446), second in made 3-pointers (69), second in minutes per game (34.8 MPG), third in points per game (17.8 PPG), third in free throw percentage (85.2%), and third in 3-point field goal percentage (39.9%).

Lucas has been particularly exceptional over Nevada’s past three games, as he is averaging 24.3 points per game on 58.1 percent shooting from the field (25-43), 50 percent from behind the arc (10-20), and 92.9 percent at the free throw line over the Pack’s current three-game winning streak. 

Blackshear scored 12 points against the Lobos on 4-10 shooting from the field, while knocking down his lone attempt from behind the arc. The senior also recorded three assists and tallied one steal, while earning a game-high plus/minus of +5 in 23 minutes of action.

Blackshear has now scored in double-figures in 16 straight games and in 22 of 25 games this season. He has also dished out at least three assists in all but two games for Nevada.

Blackshear continues to rank in the top-15 of the Mountain West in an abundance of categories this season. He is currently second in both total assists (116) and assists per game (4.6 APG), while ranking fifth in steals per game (1.7 SPG), eighth in scoring (14.6 PPG), eighth in free throw percentage (79.5%), 10th in minutes per game (32.3 MPG), and 13th in assist/turnover ratio (1.4).

Freshman forward Darrion Williams had another stat-stuffing night for the Pack, scoring eight points while knocking down two 3-pointers, in addition to pulling down five boards, dishing out five assists, and recording one block and one steal.

Williams continues to lead the Pack in rebounding, as the freshman is pulling down an impressive 7.1 boards per contest. Williams not only ranks first on the team in rebounding, but also ranks sixth overall in the conference, while also ranking ninth in the Mountain West in steals per game. 

Will Baker scored 10 points on an efficient 5-9 shooting from the field, and he pulled down five rebounds throughout the game. Baker has been sensational at the Lawlor Events Center this season, as he enters Friday’s contest averaging 16.1 points per game on outstanding shooting clips of 66.9 percent from the field and 46.2 percent from behind the arc in 11 home games this season.

Nevada’s bench was immaculate in the Pack’s win over New Mexico, as Daniel Foster, Tyler Powell, and Nick Davidson each provided significant contributions during the game.

Foster had his best outing of the season, scoring six points on a perfect 2-2 shooting from the field and from the free throw line, in addition to dishing out a team-high and new career-high six assists throughout the game. 

Powell provided a strong offensive spark off the bench, scoring seven points on 3-6 shooting from the field and 1-3 from behind the arc. Davidson also brought great energy off the bench, scoring four points and pulling down a team-high seven rebounds, while finishing the contest with a plus/minus of +4 in 21 minutes of action. 

Nevada had one of their most efficient offensive performances of the year against the Lobos, draining 11 shots from behind the arc on 22 attempts. The Pack also hit 50 percent of their total field goal attempts and knocked down eight of 10 shots at the free throw line. 

Nevada also had a solid defensive performance, limiting UNM to an abysmal 4-16 shooting from behind the arc. 

The Pack’s defense continues to rank in the top-five of the conference in nearly every statistical category. Nevada is second in the Mountain West in opponent field goal percentage (41.8%), third in turnovers forced (324), fourth in defensive rebounding (26.2 per game), fifth in steals per game (6.2 SPG), and fifth in opponent 3-point field goal percentage (33.3%).

Nevada will face another difficult challenge this Friday, as they will go head to head with one of the top defenses in the Mountain West in Fresno State.

Scouting Fresno State

Fresno State enters Friday’s game with an overall record of 9-14 and a mark of 5-7 in Mountain West play; however, they are currently on a two-game winning streak, earning victories over UNLV and San Jose State in their past two contests. 

The Bulldogs have been impressive on the defensive end of the court all season long, as they currently rank second in the conference in opponent points per game, limiting opposing teams to just 64.9 points per contest. 

The Bulldogs have been particularly good at forcing turnovers, as they rank fourth in the Mountain West in steals per game (6.2 SPG) and third in turnovers forced per game (13.1). 

As solid as the Bulldogs have been on defense, they have struggled at offense this season, as they rank last in the Mountain West in points per game (62.0 PPG), field goal percentage (42.6%), and 3-point field goal percentage (30.3%).

Fresno State is led by the trio of Jemarl Baker Jr., Isaiah Hill, and Isaih Moore. Baker leads the team in scoring at 11.7 points per game, while Moore is right behind him, putting up 11.5 points per game on an outstanding 53.6 percent shooting from the field. Moore is also pulling down an impressive 7.3 rebounds per game, as he ranks fourth in the conference in rebounding. 

Hill runs the Bulldogs offense, as he is third on the team in scoring at 11.3 points per game, while leading the team in assists, dishing out an average of 3.6 per game. 

Nevada will seek to limit turnovers, preventing the Bulldogs from getting buckets in transition, while also having another strong offensive performance in order to secure their 20th victory of the season and 10th win in Mountain West play. 

Series History

Nevada and Fresno State have faced off 47 times throughout history, with the Pack owning a 31-16 record against the Bulldogs in the all-time series. Fresno State won the most recent matchup between the two squads, earning a 73-56 victory over the Pack last February. 

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