Nevada Wolf Pack needs Cam Oliver to get untracked against San Diego State | NevadaAppeal.com

Nevada Wolf Pack needs Cam Oliver to get untracked against San Diego State

Darrell Moody
dmoody@nevadaappeal.com

SAN DIEGO STATE (8-5, 0-1) AT NEVADA (12-3, 1-1)

When: Today, 8 p.m.

Where: Lawlor Events Center (11,536)

TV-Radio: ESPN2/94.3 FM

Coaches: San Diego State’s Steve Fisher (375-200) is in his 18th season; Nevada’s Eric Musselman (36-17) is in his 2nd season.

Probable starters: SDSU — G: 6-3 Jeremy Hemsley (16.2, 2.8) and 6-4 Trey Kell (13.8, 3.8); F: 6-5 Dakarai Allen (7.6, 4.4); 6-9 Max Hoetzel (7.9, 4.2); 6-9 Zylan Cheatham (11.4, 6.9). NEVADA — F: 6-8 Cameron Oliver (14.9, 7.2) and 6-7 Jordan Caroline (12.3, 9.5); G: 6-4 Lindsey Drew (5.7, 4.8), 6-3 Marcus Marshall (20.9, 2.3), 6-6 D.J. Fenner (12.2, 3.3).

RENO — The Nevada Wolf Pack needs 6-8 sophomore forward Cameron Oliver to get off the snide.

Oliver has struggled mightily in the last three games, scoring 9, 9 and 11 points respectively. His scoring average has dropped by nearly a point, and he doesn’t have a single offensive rebound in that span.

Not the kind of production you expect from a preseason all-conference guy, and that is worrisome with perennial powerhouse San Diego State coming to town tonight (8 p.m./ESPN2).

In that span, Oliver is shooting 46 percent from the floor, 33 percent from beyond the arc.

Nevada coach Eric Musselman said after the Fresno State loss he wasn’t concerned about Oliver’s scoring, he was concerned about effort.

The second-year Nevada coach thought Oliver was lackadaisical in the closing moments of the 77-76 loss to Fresno State. Oliver turned the ball over in a tie game when the Pack had a chance to hold the ball for one shot and go ahead.

“Cam’s turnover was really costly,” Musselman said. “He was careless and not being alert to time and score. He was trying to hand the ball off to Marcus. You can’t have that kind of turnover with 30 seconds to play.

“If he’s pushing too hard it hasn’t occurred to me. With seven scholarship players, he needs to produce. He needs to play more than 22 minutes, stay out of foul trouble. We are not going to win (especially with seven scholarship players) if he doesn’t play at a high level. The same thing with Marcus (Marshall). He has found a way to produce every single game. Cam has to find a way to get out of it.”

Indeed.

Marshall has scored 76 points in his last three games (25, 25 and 26), and he’s been deadly from beyond the arc.

He burned Fresno State until the Bulldogs put Jaron Hopkins and Paul Watson on him, and that added length didn’t give Marshall as much breathing room.

Marshall did have 10 second-half points, but went scoreless for 12 minutes in the second half. His last 3-pointer closed the gap to 77-76 with 6 seconds left.

Oliver and Co. will have its hands full tonight. The Aztecs are only 8-5, but no doubt they are steamed about dropping a 68-62 decision against New Mexico. San Diego State eliminated Nevada, 67-55, in last year’s Mountain West semifinals in Las Vegas.

And, SDSU seems to have Nevada’s number. The Aztecs have yet to lose to Nevada since the Pack came into the MW, and that’s one trend Musselman would love to change. He knows it won’t be easy.

“They have great guard play in (Jeremy Hemsley) and (Trey) Kell,” Musselman said. “(Zylan) Cheatham plays as hard as anybody in the country.”

Hemsley averages 16 a game and Kell is at nearly 13. Cheatham is a shade over 11.

The Aztecs have played the last three without 6-10 forward Malik Pope and top reserve Matt Shrigley, a 38 percent shooter from beyond the arc. Pope and Shrigley are questionable for tonight’s game.

“They have won so many big games. They knocked us out of the tournament last year. We are trying to figure out where our next win is going to come from,” Musselman said.=

This is Mussleman being realistic and not being a pessimist.

After San Diego State, it’s on to New Mexico and Wyoming, two of the most difficult places to play in the Mountain West.

“We are in the most difficult part of our schedule,” he said. “We are taking it one game at a time.”

Execution in the half court will be vital tonight Nevada has to value the ball, something it didn’t do last weekend, turning it over 17 times against the Bulldogs.

“They are long and athletic,” Musselman said. “Coach (Steve) Fisher gets them to play hard on defense, and they all know their roles.”