What you need to know about the Wolf Pack:
While Nevada is the only Mountain West team that is undefeated at home this season, the Pack has lost its past three road games — by 9 at San Diego Sate on Jan. 10, by 15 at Boise State on Jan. 17 and by 6 on Jan. 28 at UNLV. No player active on the Nevada roster has ever played in the Pit. K.J. Hymes (out for the season with an injury) played in Albuquerque on Feb. 18, 2020 as a freshman, scoring 8 points in the last game the Wolf Pack actually played in the Pit (the only time forrmer UNM coach Steve Alford has coached against the Lobos in the Pit. The following season, COVID restrictions pushed Lobo “home” games to Lubbock, Texas, and last season the league’s unbalanced schedule had Nevada not scheduled to play in Albuquerque). In league games, Nevada has had a high foul rate of 35.9%, ranked 9th in the 11-team league. The Lobos would like to get back on the free throw line with regularity as they still rank Top 20 nationally out of 363 Division I teams in free throw rate, have been outscored at the line in all four losses and only once in their 19 wins. Lucas on Monday was named the MWC Player of the Week and went for 22 points on the Lobos two weeks ago, but it was 6-foot6 Kenan Blackshear who seemed to provide the worst matchup for the Lobos’ smaller guards to defend.
What you need to know about the Lobos: In their first meeting, after Nevada’s Will Baker went off for 15 first-half points, the Lobos switched power forward Josiah Allick onto him for the defensive assignment, holding him to 13 points over the second half and both overtime periods. Should UNM stick with that adjustment of Allick on Baker, it largely forces 6-8 Morris Udeze to guard more on the perimeter, where he isn’t as skilled and can get into foul trouble. The Lobos held the Wolf Pack to just 5-of-24 shooting from 3-point range in Reno, and UNM continues its streak of holding seven consecutive opponents under their season average on 3-point percentage. But that doesn’t mean the UNM defense has been particularly good of late. In last week’s loss at Utah State, the Lobos couldn’t seem to stop fouling Aggies players and USU went 27-of-31 at the free throw line. USU’s 16-point advantage over UNM at the free throw line (UNM hit only 11 FTs) was four times the previous season high for an opponent’s FT advantage of 4 points. The Lobos offense wasn’t the problem in Reno, that’s for sure. UNM’s effective FG% of 60.3% was he team’s 3rd best of the season and Mountain West leading scorer Jamal Mashburn, Jr., had a career-high 33 points in the double-overtime loss.