Nevada to face Hawaii

When it comes to winning on the road, one of the keys is a solid rebounding effort.

That is something that has been missing quite often through Nevada's first 14 games of the season. The Pack has been outrebounded six times already this season after being outrebounded only five times all of last year.

On Thursday, San Jose State won on the glass, 37-33, and won the game 62-60. The Spartans pulled down 14 offensive rebounds, leading to 10 second-chance points which was huge considering it was a two-point game.

Nevada (8-6, 0-1) hopes it can put forth a better effort on the glass tonight at 9:05 p.m. (KAME) when it faces Hawaii (5-9, 1-1) at the Stan Sheriff Center.

If you don't think rebounding is a vital issue, think again. Nevada has won only one of the six games that it has been beaten on the glass. Year in and year out, Nevada has been at or near the top of the rebounding stats. Nevada is second in the WAC, but mostly because of a 57-26 edge against Cal State Stanislaus, a 47-28 effort over Central Florida and a 43-20 margin against UC Irvine.

Nevada coach Mark Fox said his team didn't do the 'little things' against the Spartans.

What Fox means by that is blocking out the opponent; putting a body on your opponent. That's a little thing that doesn't show up in a boxscore and goes unnoticed by the casual fan.

Despite the fact that Nevada has been hurt by its lack of experience at various times this season, Hawaii coach Bob Nash is worried about the Pack.

"They pose a lot of problems," Nash said. "They have pretty good size with (JaVale) McGee. Fox has done an unbelievable job. They're going to be good. They have a lot of talent.

"They rebound the ball well. That's an obstacle we're going to have to overcome. It's going to be tough without our (starting) center. We've had to mix and match."

Nash was referring to the loss of 6-11 260-pound Stephen Verwers, who suffered a broken leg on Christmas Day. He was the team's only true center. Hawaii is now forced to use P.J. Owsley, a natural forward, in the middle.

"We can run more because we're smaller now," guard Matt Gibson told the Honolulu Advertiser. "But we miss that big body in the middle on the defensive end. The game's so much different without him."

Nash has been forced to play his son, Bobby, at power forward at times. The younger Nash is 6-foot-7 and weighs 200 pounds.

So, McGee, Demarshay Johnson, Matt LaGrone and David Ellis will have a definite height advantage tonight. Whether they capitalize on it is anybody's guess. Nevada had a size advantage against San Jose State, but didn't play hard enough to get past the pesky Spartans.

With a hostile crowd expected tonight, Nevada needs to get off to a fast start. The Pack shot just 37 percent in the first half Thursday and turned the ball over nine times, which enabled the Spartans to overcome an 11-point deficit in the opening 20 minutes.

In fact, Nevada needs to be leading at the half. The Pack is 8-0 when leading after the first 20 minutes and 0-5 when it isn't.

Freshman Armon Johnson played a poised game for Nevada, scoring 16 points and turning the ball over just once in 35 minutes. He has led the team in scoring two of the last three games (North Carolina was the other).

Marcelus Kemp, after a cold-shooting first half, which saw him go 2-for-9, finished with 13 points. McGee added 10, but was limited to 22 minutes because of foul problems and failed to block a shot for the first time all season.

Kemp turned in his 24th consecutive game in double figures for scoring (all 14 this year) and the 76th of his career. Going back to the 2005-06 season, Kemp has reached double figures in 55 of his last 57 games.

Kemp felt that the Pack didn't play well as a team against San Jose State, and no doubt he will talk to his younger teammates about that. Kemp appeared frustrated several times during the game and tried to force the issue on a few possessions.

Nevada defenders will have their hands full with Matt Gibson, who is averaging 18.3 points, 8.0 assists and 4.3 rebounds per game in the Rainbow Warriors' last three outings. Hawaii won two of the three games and averaged nearly 80 points a game in that stretch.

Nash leads Hawaii in scoring at 16.2 a game, and has 36 3-pointers this year. Riley Luettgerodt is averaging 13.4 and Jared Dillinger is scoring at a 10.1 clip per contest.

Notes: As a team, Nevada paces the conference and ranks 11th in the nation with an average of 6.57 blocks per game, including a season-best 10 in the Dec. 19 win over Colorado State and nine Dec. 12 vs. San Diego and again Dec. 22 at Northern Iowa... Nevada has turned in five of its most solid shooting efforts of the year in its last eight games. The team has made 46.9 percent of its attempts from the field in its last seven outings (215-458). The team has turned in four 50-percent shooting efforts this season, most recently knocking down 54.1 percent of its attempts Dec. 31 vs. Cal State Stanislaus (40-for-74).

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