GAME NOTES: Riding high off a thrilling win, the Nevada Wolfpack will finish up the World Vision Classic on Sunday afternoon in a matchup against the Southern Utah Thunderbirds at Lawlor Events Center.
Southern Utah was run off the court in its third straight loss on Saturday. The Thunderbirds had no answer for Cal State Fullerton as the Titans racked up a 112-69 win over the Thunderbirds. Southern Utah will play four of its next five games at home after playing the first four games of the season on the road, including this game.
Nevada has enjoyed much more success this season at 2-1 on the season after Deonte Burton lifted the squad to a 71-69 win over Green Bay on Saturday with a 3-pointer with 1.3 seconds remaining in regulation. The win was the second straight for the Wolfpack which dropped a 78-64 decision to UC Irvine in the season opener. Nevada will travel out of Reno and head to Huntington, West Virginia to tangle with Marshall in its next contest.
In two previous meetings between these squads, Nevada has come out on top both times.
The Thunderbirds defensive efforts were far from effective against Cal State Fullerton as Southern Utah allowed the Titans to shoot at a stunning 64.9 percent pace in the contest including a 12-of-17 effort from beyond the arc. On the other end of the floor the Thunderbirds had relative success (46.0 FG percentage) but coughed the ball up 31 times. Damon Heuir led four different scorer in double figures with 14 points but also had a team-high five turnovers.
Defense has been a real problem for Southern Utah. On the season opponents are successful on 51.8 percent of their shots from the floor while the squads scoring differential is a massive minus-31 points. Jackson Stevenett (19.0 ppg, 5.3 rpg) is the primary scorer and rebounder and the only player on the roster that has consistently scored in double figures. He finished with 13 points and six rebounds against Cal State Fullerton. Heuir (9.0 ppg) runs the point for the Thunderbirds but he has only handed out seven assists. While that number is a team-high it has largely been erased by his team-leading 14 turnovers. Julian Scott (8.0 ppg) and Wade Collie (5.3 ppg) are the only other players scoring more than five points per game. Scott's production has come entirely off the bench.
Although Nevada led for the majority of the contest against Green Bay, the Wolfpack found itself trailing 69-68 with 11 seconds remaining after Green Bay's Alec Brown nailed a 3-pointer. However on the next possession Burton was able to net the game-winning shot. The two squads' nearly identical percentages in the game with Nevada at 42.4 percent while allowing Green Bay to shoot at a 42.6 percent clip. Burton was the lead scorer in the contest with 19 points.
Burton reached the 1,000-point plateau in the contest as well looks like he will be continue adding to that total in bunches this season. The junior guard is the teams leading scorer (15.3 ppg) and has been doing so, while shooting at a solid 43.3 percent from the floor. Burton knocked down 3-of-5 shots from beyond the arc against Green Bay after he missed his first five attempts from 3-point range this year. Malik Story (10.3 ppg) is the only other player on the squad scoring in double figures but his shooting (30.3 FG percentage) needs improvement. Instead of a few prolific scorers the Wolfpack have spread the production out this year. Including Burton and Story seven different players are scoring at least seven points per game. Cole Huff (9.3 ppg, 6.7 rpg) and Kevin Panzer (8.3 ppg, 5.0 rpg) are the top rebounder.
It is unlikely that Nevada will be able to duplicate the kind of offensive success that Cal state Fullerton had against Southern Utah. However the Thunderbirds won't be able to slow the Wolfpack down enough to really compete either.