Wolf Pack ready to fight in Wyoming | NevadaAppeal.com

Wolf Pack ready to fight in Wyoming

Darrell Moody
dmoody@nevadaappeal.com
Nevada's Lindsey Drew pulls up for a jump shot during a game San Diego State earlier this season.
THOMAS RANSON / LVN FILE PHOTO |

Nevada basketball coach Eric Musselman admitted earlier this week he was happy that the Pack didn’t have a mid-week game, if for no other reason than to recover from last weekend’s miraculous comeback victory.

“I don’t think there is any doubt,” Musselman said. “Playing San Diego State, beating San Diego State with a good crowd, and understanding what San Diego State means in our conference, I’m not so sure we were ready to play New Mexico, and they were ready.

“Because of the national attention and energy we played with and with (essentially) only seven guys, we needed to have a Tuesday or Wednesday off. Hopefully all the attention will subside, and we can get back to what’s most important.”

The 25-point comeback, one of the best in NCAA history, pushed Nevada to 14-3 overall and 3-1 in MW play heading into Saturday’s road showdown at Wyoming (3 p.m./94.3 FM/ESPN3).

The win earned Nevada a couple votes in the AP poll for the first time this year. Previously, Nevada had received some votes in the Coaches’ Poll.

When the Pack walks onto the Arena-Auditorium floor, Musselman & Co. will see a different team from the Cowboys of the 2015-16 season. New coach Allen Edwards has Wyoming playing well (12-5 overall, 2-2 in league).

“We have to take away the three from (Jason) McManamen,” Musselman said. “They come off the bench with (Justin) James and (Hayden) Dalton, and those two are as good as anybody on their roster. They get batter.

“They play a lot faster (than last year). This will be a non-traditional Nevada-Wyoming game. They are really good at home.”

James leads the Cowboys with a 15.6 average, and Dalton is at 13.2. Forward Alan Herndon is at 10.4 and McManamen is at 13.4.

Wyoming had 12 3-pointers in the first half of Wednesday’s win over Utah State, including a career-best five by Alexander Gorski. It was the most in an opening half in the MW era of Cowboy basketball. UW has only hit double-digit 3-pointers twice in the opening half in the MW era. The Pokes hit 10 against Utah State last season in the Arena-Auditorium. The 12 3-pointers were the most in a single half since UW hit 14 in the second half against Hawaii Pacific on Nov. 26, 1999.

Wyoming is 10-0 at home, and the Cowboys will be running into a red-hot Pack team which is just one game behind conference-leading Boise State.

“Coach Musselman has done a great job with that program,” Edwards said after Wyoming’s win over Utah State. “They have a talented group of guys with a lot of fight in them, especially after what they did against New Mexico.

“It’s an opportunity for us to see where we’re at. I always felt that 1 through 13, everyone has to show up and play basketball. I’m excited we get them here. We’ll be prepared.”

“I think it’s the only time we play them this year,” Wyoming’s Cody Kelley said. “I can’t wait to play them.”

The one thing Edwards would like to see is consistent play throughout the game. Once Wyoming rolled to a big lead against Utah State, there seemed to be the inevitable letdown.

“I was mainly disappointed with our defense,” Edwards said. “I don’t think we did a great job of listening to our game plan. We have to know when to push and when to run offense. We had some sloppy turnovers, not forced turnovers. We have to understand the score and time (the situation). I was still happy to come away with a win.”

“We have to keep the intensity on the defense end no matter what,” Dalton said. “We weren’t doing a good job on ball screens.”