GAME NOTES: With a week to prepare, the Utah State Aggies head back to the hardwood today to challenge the Nevada Wolf Pack in Mountain West Conference action at the Lawlor Events Center.
The Aggies have been out of action since last weekend when they crushed the San Jose State Spartans at home, 86-67, to claim their first league victory of the season. The win was the sixth in the last seven outings for the program as they sport one of the best overall winning percentages (.786) in the MWC heading into the weekend.
Despite splitting the first 16 games of 2013-14, the Wolf Pack is the only squad in the league that is 3-0 entering play today. The squad posted a narrow 74-71 win over in-state rival UNLV at the Thomas & Mack Center three nights ago, the first triumph in the series for Nevada in Sin City since 2005. In addition to snapping an eight-game road losing streak in the series, Nevada has now won three straight games overall.
In terms of the all-time series between the programs, USU is ahead by a count of 32-14, although Nevada has won two in a row, thanks in part to a narrow 53-52 triumph in the most recent matchup last February.
Against San Jose State there was little that the Aggies did wrong as they shot 52.7 percent from the field, an incredible 10-of-14 behind the 3-point line, outscored the visitors at the charity stripe 18-4, and also held a massive 42-22 advantage on the glass. TeNale Roland scored 20 points off the bench, Preston Medlin added 15 and eight assists, followed by Spencer Butterfield with 14 points and Jalen Moore 10 in a reserve role. Kyle Davis played big in the paint with 13 points and 12 rebounds, while Jarred Shaw pulled down nine boards, but shot just 2-of-10 from the field.
Back on the court following his suspension, Shaw is still listed as the player with the top scoring average with 15.0 ppg for the Aggies, but Medlin and Butterfield are closing the gap with 14.2 and 14.1 ppg, respectively. The other double-digit scorer for USU is Davis with his 10.3 ppg, pacing the group on the glass with 8.8 rpg as the Aggies produce a rebounding advantage of 10.3 per game at the moment.
Deonte Burton delivered a game-high 29 points to lead the Nevada Wolf Pack to the three-point win over the UNLV Runnin' Rebels at the Thomas & Mack Center. Burton connected on 12-of-20 from the floor for the Wolf Pack, followed by Michael Perez and AJ West with 18 and 11 points, respectively, the latter also pulling down nine rebounds and registering five blocked shots as the team turned the ball over just six times on the night and held the hosts to a dismal 29.4 percent shooting from the field in the second half.
Despite shooting only 33.0 percent behind the 3-point line, Burton remains one of the top scorers not just in the conference but in the country with his 22.3 ppg. Not only is he free to light up the scoreboard on his own, he also paces Nevada with 59 assists and checks in with nearly four rebounds per contest, making it clear that he is willing to do whatever it takes to win.
Just 3-4 in front of the hometown crowd this season, the Wolf Pack would like nothing more than to give the Reno faithful something to cheer about, but there's a chance the team could have a letdown after such a huge victory less than 48 hours ago.
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