Nevada opens with Towson in South Point Classic
LAS VEGAS — When Nevada basketball coach Eric Musselman was filling out his non-conference schedule, the South Point Holiday Hoops Classic turned out to be the perfect fit.
“I felt another neutral court tournament type of situation would be good for us,” Musselman said earlier in the week. “It would be our fifth game (neutral site) out of our 13 nonconference games.
“Being in Vegas is good for a variety of reasons. We get two games instead of one road game, and it gives a lot of our parents a chance to come and see two games at one site. It’s not a lot of travel for us, and it gives us a chance to play two good teams. UCSB (UC Santa Barbara) has been very good in the past, and obviously the team we open with (Towson) is very, very good.”
Towson (7-4), a member of the Colonial Athletic Association, has won three straight games. Two of the Tigers’ four losses came to Power 5 teams Maryland (71-66) and Boston College (80-70). Nevada plays Towson at 2:30 p.m. today.
“We let that game against Maryland get away from us,“ said Towson coach Pat Skerry. “We’re trying to be a little more consistent. This gives us a chance to play against two post-season teams (Nevada and Iona). This will help us get ready for conference.”
The Tigers, led by 6-foot-5 guard Mike Morsell (17.6 per game), already have the attention of Musselman.
“They are a great offensive rebounding team; a competitive team,” Musselman said. “They are on par with Iona and Oakland. They are a good ballclub that prides itself on getting loose balls and creating more possessions.
“They are very similar to Morehead State. The ball is in the air and they want to be the first to it. They are real aggressive going to the basket.”
Skerry said Nevada presents a significant challenge.
The Pack enters with four players averaging double figures.
Senior Marcus Marshall leads the way at 20.1 followed by Cameron Oliver (16.2), D.J. Fenner (12.3) and Jordan Caroline (11.7).
“We’re going to have to play outstanding defense. Nevada is very potent offensively,” Skerry said earlier this week in a phone interview. “They are the best team we’ve seen to date.
“Marshall is a terrific shooter. (Lindsey) Drew is underrated. Oliver has a pro skill set. He is extremely gifted. Caroline is my kind of guy. He has a really good motor.”
Skerry said he wouldn’t be surprised to see Nevada in the rankings soon. The Pack got two votes in the coaches’ poll earlier this week.
Skerry has been impressed with Nevada’s 3-point shooting, especially with Oliver, Fenner and Marshall.
“They do a lot of pick and pop,” he said. “If we don’t do a good job defending, we’re going to be enjoying the buffet that night (instead of the game). They can shoot it from a variety of different places. They are good in transition and have good spacing.”