GAME NOTES: A couple of former Western Athletic Conference members get together in Reno, as the Nevada Wolf Pack clash with the Boise State Broncos in Mountain West Conference action on Tuesday night.
Despite being just 4-4 at home this season and one game over .500 overall, the Wolf Pack enter the week with the best record in MWC play at 4-0. One of just three MWC programs that has yet to drop a league outing, Nevada is enjoying a four-game win streak and has taken five of the last six contests overall thanks to a 62-54 victory versus Utah State at home on Saturday.
Sporting a record of just 3-13 in MWC play last season, the Pack has already topped its win total in conference play.
As for the Broncos, they kicked off the 2013-14 campaign with eight straight wins, but since then they've turned in a 3-5 performance and are now only 1-2 in conference after losing at the last second to Wyoming over the weekend at Taco Bell Arena, 52-50. The defeat was the second in a row and the third in four tries for the program.
Nevada, which will travel to Boise State near the end of the regular season to complete this year's series, owns a 39-22 advantage in the relationship overall, although the programs have split the last four matchups.
Ahead by as many as nine points with just under nine minutes remaining in the second half, the Broncos saw their advantage dwindle and then completely disappear as Wyoming's Larry Nance Jr' converted a jumper in the waning moments to steal away the two-point decision. Anthony Drmic led the offense for BSU with 20 points, adding seven rebounds, while Ryan Watkins nearly pulled off a double-double with 15 points and nine boards before fouling out for a group that shot just 32.0 percent from the field and 3-of-17 behind the 3-point line.
Scoring 19.3 ppg, Drmic is clearly the offensive force for the Broncos this season, while Marks lends ample support with 15.2 ppg and is first in the passing department with 45 assists, adding a team-best 28 steals as well. Watkins (10.3 ppg), a 55.7 percent shooter from the floor, is responsible for a team-high 9.3 rpg and accounts for close to half of the unit's 36 blocked shots with 17 rejections, but clearly the group needs more of an interior presence on defense.
It was the Nevada defense that stole the headlines during the meeting with Utah State as they limited the Aggies to only 31.3 percent shooting from the floor and 2-of-16 out on the perimeter. The offense for the Wolf Pack did just enough to get by as Cole Huff tallied 16 points on 4-of-7 shooting beyond the arc, followed by Deonte Burton with 14 points and five of the squad's eight assists. AJ West pitched in with 11 points, seven rebounds and three blocked shots as the group survived with just 5-of-18 shooting out on the perimeter.
While he was held far below his season scoring average, Burton is still the clear-cut leader on the Nevada offense this year with his 21.8 ppg, even though he is shooting just 33.0 percent beyond the arc. In addition to taking care of his own scoring needs, Burton is also keen on keeping his teammates involved in the offense, responding with a team-best 64 assists. Jerry Evans checks in with 12.8 ppg and not far behind is Michael Perez with his 12.1 ppg, thanks largely to his 31 triples through 17 games.
The Broncos haven't spent all that much time on the road this season, which might be a good thing for Nevada since the hosts are still trying to establish themselves in their own building.
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