Keys to Nevada basketball success against UNLV

While UNLV’s record for the season may look unimpressive at 6-7, it has pulled out some impressive wins and performances against some of the highest ranked teams in the Mountain West Conference and is a team that Nevada basketball cannot overlook. In its upcoming games at home against rivals the Runnin’ Rebels, Nevada hoops will have to pay special attention to a couple players and tactics both offensively and defensively in order to win at home.

There is no doubt that UNLV has some major talent including junior guards David Jenkins Jr. and Bryce Hamilton as well as sophomore forward Moses Wood. Jenkins is one of the Runnin’ Rebels’ highest scorers and put up 47 points against Utah State in a two-game series just a couple weeks ago, one of which was a win for UNLV. Hamilton is a multi-threat who can drive to the inside or shoot 3-pointers on the fly. As for Wood, as he has seen more and more playing time this season has had the ability to come out of his shell as a forward being a large threat on the inside on defense and offense. If Nevada can shut these players down, it will make winning at home much easier.

Despite this talent, Nevada basketball can exploit UNLV’s tendency to over-rotate on both sides of the court. More specifically, UNLV seems to always be setting screens and rotating, which has worked in it’s favor, but has also caused some chaos with bad passes or just outright handing the ball to the opponent. The case is the same on defense for the Runnin’ Rebels, whose players seems to miss slides by a fairly large margin if not running smoothly. The Wolf Pack have to move the ball until they can create enough space for a drive or outside shot from either Grant Sherfield or Desmond Cambridge or inside to Warren Washington for the easy dunk.

Nevada will also have to be cognizant of all the picking and rolling that UNLV will be doing on offense, which again can be used to its advantage. The Wolf Pack’s players have to stay patient, keep their heads on a swivel around the outside and wait for UNLV to create the opportunity for a turnover. If Nevada follows too closely on man defense, it will get all tangled up on the picks and ultimately itself.

As usual, Nevada’s major threats are Sherfield, Cambridge and Washington. Sherfield and Cambridge lead the Wolf Pack in scoring, and Washington is a large forward who is formidable in the middle on both sides of the court. But all of Nevada’s players will have to stay patient and vigilant so as not to get caught up in the traffic that UNLV will try to cause.

Nevada will clash with rival school, the UNLV Runnin’s Rebels on Jan. 31 at 9:30 p.m. ET on FS1 and ESPN Radio 94.5 FM. Game two will be broadcasted on CBS Sports Network and ESPN Radio 94.5 FM at 9 p.m. ET on Tuesday, Feb. 2.

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