Nevada (9-7) at Fresno State (7-9)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, January 19, 10 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Save Mart Center (15,596) -- Fresno, California. Television: None. Home Record: Nevada 8-2, FSU 4-4. Away Record: Nevada 1-5, FSU 3-5. Neutral Record: Nevada 0-0, FSU 0-0. Conference Record: Nevada 0-2, FSU 1-2. Series Record: Nevada leads, 49-37.
GAME NOTES: Following up one of their most impressive defensive efforts of the season, the Fresno State Bulldogs try to hold down the Nevada Wolf Pack as the teams clash in a Mountain West Conference battle at the Save Mart Center on Saturday night.
It figured to be a low-scoring affair against Wyoming on Wednesday night, but neither side could have predicted that the Bulldogs would come away with a 49-36 home victory. The win snapped a brief two-game slide for Fresno State which actually had an even more impressive game on defense earlier this season in a 39-30 win over UC Riverside on the road.
As for Nevada, the team has been out of action since last weekend when it took on Wyoming coincidentally, but unlike FSU the Wolf Pack came out on the losing end of a 59-48 decision versus the Cowboys. The defeat was the third in as many games for Nevada, but just the second in 10 home dates in Reno for the squad.
Former members of the Western Athletic Conference, the Pack owns a 49-37 advantage over Fresno State heading into this meeting. The series dates all the way back to 1924-25 and has been dominated in recent years by Nevada which has won four straight and five of the last six encounters.
Once again Malik Story had a difficult outing, this time against Wyoming as he shot just 2-of-14 from the floor and missed all five of his 3-point tries, ending up with just six points. The only double-digit scorer for the struggling Pack was Deonte Burton who tallied 23 points, as the team shot a dismal 29.0 percent from the floor and 1-of-15 out on the perimeter. It also didn't help that, in an 11-point decision, Nevada converted only 11-of-24 at the free-throw line. Burton continues to be the steady influence on offense, although that doesn't always translate into victory as he averages 16.5 ppg. Story is showing a 15.3 ppg average, but over the last several games he has fallen far short of that mark, the team coming up short of their 70.4 ppg as well.
With seven and a half minutes to play in the first half on Wednesday night, the Bulldogs trailed Wyoming by a point at 12-11, but from there the hosts put together a 15-4 run to assume control and eventually capture the 13-point win against the short-handed Cowboys. Fresno State, which led by as many as 20 points in the second half, was paced by Tyler Johnson who tallied 18 points on 6-of-8 from the floor and a perfect 6-of-6 shooting at the free-throw line. Tanner Giddings contributed 10 points off the bench as well. Perhaps most surprising is that Kevin Olekaibe, the team's leading scorer from last season took just one shot and was held scoreless. With the Bulldogs becoming more defensive oriented, Olekaibe figured to have his production cut back, but at this point he has gone from 17.8 ppg in 2011-12 to just 8.2 rpg this season, playing about 10 minutes less per contest. Johnson stands as the only double- digit scorer with 10.7 ppg.
The Fresno State defense is one of the best in college basketball at this point of the season, holding opponents to just 58.9 ppg and if Story doesn't get back on track for the Wolf Pack that number could favor the Bulldogs even more after Saturday.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Fresno State 59, Nevada 55
01/19 10:39:26 ET