RENO — Nevada guard Marcus Marshall has vivid and unpleasant memories of the Pack’s first meeting against Fresno State in men’s basketball for obvious reasons.
The first is the Bulldogs are the only blemish on Nevada’s Mountain West schedule, having garnered a 77-76 decision. The second is the way the Pack lost. Nevada turned the ball over 17 times, leading to 21 FS points, and that’s absolutely huge in a one-point game. Also, Nevada yielded 50 points in the paint and gave up 18 second-chance points.
Nevada will be out to right those wrongs when it hosts the Bulldogs today at 3 (CBS Sports Network/94.3 FM) at Lawlor Events Center.
“It was a game we let slip away,” Marshall told reporters on Thursday. “We had a 10-point lead with eight minutes left.
“They are going to come in here with their heads held high. They are the only conference team to beat us. We have to come out and play a full 40 minutes. We had a lot of unforced errors. Some (turnovers) were forced. We made a lot of mental mistakes that day. We have to make sure we don’t do that on Saturday (today).”
Teammate Lindsey Drew agreed.
“We have to limit our turnovers; secure the basketball,” Drew said. “Their defense tries to get them easy (transition) baskets. They like to get up and down the floor.
“We started strong the last time, but we let them get momentum (in the second half), and when you’re a road team, you can’t let the home team get momentum. They like to crash the offensive glass, so we have to do a good job on the defensive glass.”
Nevada is coming off a sub-par rebounding effort in its win over Air Force. Nevada got beat on the boards by 10, and had only five offensive rebounds the entire game.
The Bulldogs, led by Paul Watson (13.6), Jaron Hopkins (12.3), Jahmel Taylor (12.7), Cullen Russo (10.2) and Karachi Edo (11.6) have plenty of firepower, and can hurt teams from all over. Taylor shoots the 3 at a 48 percent clip.
“Defensively we weren’t as good (back then) as we are now,” Drew said. “We are trying to get back to where we were last year when we had more of a defensive mentality
“They play hard; play physical,” Nevada coach Eric Musselman said. “One thing about Coach Terry’s teams is that they play hard. We have the utmost respect for them.”
And the feeling is mutual.
“They are a well coached team, a team who is playing as well as anyone in our league right now,” Fresno State coach Rodney Terry said. “They have guys over there that can really play at an elite level. We respect how they play. From an offensive standpoint, they are a team who averages 84 points a game. They can score the basketball.
“It is going to be very critical for us to try to get back and get our defense set and try to dig in and play really hard on the defensive end. We are going to have to be aggressive and be in attack mode. We need to value taking care (of the basketball). We respect what they do and how they do it. It is going to be a good contest, come Saturday.”