Wednesday, March 11, 2009

A San Jose State - Nevada preview

What the heck is there left to write about as San Jose State and Nevada meet up again Thursday evening? All the players have been profiled, the previous games between these teams written about, etc. We could offer some sort of treatise on elevation acclimation since Reno is 4,400 feet or so above sea level and exertion combined with high altitude can produce shortness of breath, coughing, lack of appetite, nausea or vomiting, severe headache, staggering gait, and disturbed sleep but we think there are many other relevant causes for such characteristics among visitors to The Biggest Little City in the World.

On March 5, San Jose State fell 89-66 to the Wolf Pack in Reno although Nevada had but an eight-point-lead at the half. The Pack shot 56% to 36% for the Spartans. San Jose was out-rebounded by five -- 41 to 36 -- but SJSU grabbed 21 offensive boards. A 19-5 scoring run beginning at the 16:05 mark blew open a close 41-39 contest. Adrian Oliver played 25 minutes in this one but was hampered by the flu.

February 13 was the initial contest between these two teams and Nevada won 80-68 after owning a 42-23 halftime lead. Adrian Oliver did not play. Rebounding turned out to be about even -- 30 for the Pack and 28 for the Spartans, including 16 offensive boards for SJSU. Mark Fox's squad shot 33-53 -- 63% -- as a team and made 8 of 17 three-point attempts. San Jose State went 23-57, 40.4%.

Nevada's last game was on the road against Boise State and the Pack notched a 69-60 victory. Brandon Fields scored 19, including 8-10 from the foul line.

Prior to that, the Wolf Pack took down Utah State 84-71 in Reno after possessing a 47-32 lead after the first 20 minutes. Fields scored 16 points in 24 minutes.

Going one game further back, Fresno State defeated Nevada 68-66 in the San Joaquin Valley. Fields contributions: seven points in 30 minutes of action. The Bulldogs shot 11-19 from three-point range while the Pack went just 2-9.

The reason for the various mentions of Brandon Fields is because he was chosen as a pre-season ALL-WAC selection but endured a wildly inconsistent season offensively and defensively. But it appears he has emerged -- at least to a degree -- from his funk and now provides yet another positive factor for Mark Fox to utilize.

So we've read the tea leaves, consulted the Tarot cards and tossed coins into any fountains we encountered this week and here are the factors that the outcome of this game hinges upon:

*** Reducing, if not eliminating, any large Nevada scoring runs -- the SJSU offense needs to stay away from fallow stretches

*** A team defensive effort -- if the Pack shoots 56% or 63% again then it's light out this season for SJSU

*** Converting offensive rebounds into second chance points -- getting another opportunity to produce points is great but it must result in scoreboard additions more often that not

*** Keeping Armon Johnson, Luke Babbitt and now Brandon Fields to each less than 20 points and Nevada as a team to below the 80 and 89 points scored in the previous two games this season, say the high 60s or low 70s. Nevada is scoring 70.9 points a game in league play with SJSU at 69.5. The big difference is with scoring defense as the Wolf Pack checks in at 65.9 points a contest and SJSU trailing with 73.7. The most telling numbers are these: Nevada tops the WAC in field goal percentage defense, allowing opponents to shoot a paltry .411% each time out while the Spartans are at a too-high .483%.

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