A look ahead to the Nevada Wolf Pack men’s basketball game on Saturday (7 p.m.) against the UNLV Rebels at Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas:
HOW TO WATCH, LISTEN: The game can be seen on CBS Sports Network and heard in Northern Nevada on 94.5 FM.
RECORDS: The Wolf Pack is 16-5 overall and 6-2 in the Mountain West, while UNLV is 13-7, 2-6.
NEVADA-UNLV RIVALRY: UNLV leads the rivalry, 62-33. The Rebels’ huge lead in the rivalry was built on 42 victories in their first 52 games against Nevada. UNLV won 38-of-42 games against Nevada from 1966 to 1994. The Wolf Pack, though, has won 14 of its last 20.
REBELS DOMINATE PACK LAST YEAR: UNLV beat Nevada 62-54 in Reno and 69-58 in Las Vegas last season. The Wolf Pack, however, was missing starter Desmond Cambridge Jr. in the Reno game and starters Grant Sherfield and Warren Washington in the Las Vegas game. Nevada’s Will Baker and Cambridge were a combined 9-of-35 from the floor in the game at Las Vegas, while Wolf Pack guard Kenan Blackshear was 0-for-7 from the floor and didn’t score a point in 36 minutes in the loss in Reno.
NEVADA’S LAST GAME: The Wolf Pack beat New Mexico, 97-94, in double overtime on Monday night at Lawlor Events Center behind 28 points from Will Baker, 22 from Jarod Lucas and 20 from Kenan Blackshear. Nevada is now 10-0 at home this year, with both of its league losses coming on the road at San Diego State and Boise State.
UNLV’S LAST GAME: The Rebels snapped a four-game losing streak on Tuesday with an 86-72 victory over Wyoming at Thomas & Mack Center. Elijah Harkless scored 28 points for UNLV, which is now 7-4 at home.
PACK AT THOMAS & MACK: The Wolf Pack is 10-17 at Thomas & Mack against the Rebels. UNLV won the first seven meetings, including the first one, 92-71, on Nov. 26, 1983. Jeff Collins scored 30 points for UNLV as the Rebels set the college basketball attendance record in the state of Nevada at 15,227 (since broken many times). The Wolf Pack’s first win at Thomas & Mack over UNLV was 73-57 on Feb. 18, 1995, as Brian Green scored 22 points, Faron Hand had 18 and Eathan O’Bryant had 10 points and 10 assists. Nevada has won six of its last nine games against UNLV at Thomas & Mack.
AT STAKE FOR NEVADA: The Wolf Pack, at 6-2 in league play, is very much in the running to win the Mountain West regular-season title. San Diego State (6-1) currently leads the league, a half-game ahead of Nevada and Boise State (6-2) and a game ahead of Utah State (5-2).
AT STAKE FOR UNLV: The goal of every Mountain West team is to at least finish in the top five in the conference’s regular season and avoid playing on the first day of the four-day conference tournament, March 8-11 at Las Vegas. UNLV, 2-6 in league play, is tied with Colorado State and ahead of only Wyoming (1-7) in the 11-team league and a full three games behind fifth-place New Mexico (5-3) with 10 to play.
THE HEAD COACHES: Nevada’s Steve Alford (58 years old) is in his fourth season at Nevada with a record of 63-44 overall and 34-27 in league games. Alford is 4-2 against UNLV as Nevada’s head coach. UNLV’s 39-year-old Kevin Kruger is 31-21 overall and 12-14 in Mountain West games in his second year in Las Vegas. Kruger played point guard for UNLV’s 2007 team that went to the Sweet 16 and was coached by Kruger’s father, Lon. Kruger is 2-0 against Nevada (and Alford) as UNLV’s head coach.
NEVADA STARTERS: Jarod Lucas (6-4, 195), 17.0 points, 2.3 rebounds, 1.4 assists; Kenan Blackshear (6-6, 215), 14.9 points, 4.4 rebounds, 4.6 assists, 1.8 steals; Will Baker (6-11, 245), 13.7 points, 4.7 rebounds; Tre Coleman (6-7, 185), 5.9 points, 3.5 rebounds, 19 steals, 17 blocks; Darrion Williams (6-6, 210), 7.1 points, 7.5 rebounds, 34 steals, 17 blocks.
UNLV STARTERS: E.J. Harkless (6-3, 195), 17.0 points, 4.9 rebounds, 3.4 assists, 1.5 steals; Keshon Gilbert (6-4, 190), 12.4 points, 4.0 rebounds, 3.8 assists, 2.0 steals; Justin Webster (6-3, 185), 7.8 points, 2.1 rebounds; Elijah Parquet (6-4, 195), 4.9 points, 2.5 rebounds; Victor Iwuakor (6-7, 225), 3.6 points, 3.9 rebounds.
INJURED REBEL: Regular starting guard Luis Rodriguez (6-6, 210) missed UNLV’s last game against Wyoming on Tuesday with a groin injury but might return against Nevada. Rodriguez is averaging 12.1 points, 5.7 rebounds, 1.4 assists and 2.2 steals.
MIRROR IMAGES: Nevada’s Tre Coleman (6-7, 185) and UNLV’s Elijah Parquet (6-4, 195) seem to have the same mindset on the floor. Both are defensive specialists and rarely contribute statistically on offense. Coleman is 42-of-94 from the floor this year in 21 games, averaging 5.9 points a game. Parquet is 25-of-56 from the floor in 12 games and averaging 4.9 points a game. Parquet has played the last two games after missing eight games with a knee injury. UNLV is 11-1 when Parquet plays and 2-6 without him.
REBELS COME FROM ALL OVER: UNLV has just two players (sophomore Keshon Gilbert and freshman Keyshawn Hall) on their current roster who did not start their college careers at another school. The rest of the UNLV roster includes transfers Victor Iwuakor and Elijah Harkless (both from Oklahoma), Jordan McCabe and Isaiah Cottrell (both from West Virginia), Karl Jones (Los Angeles Southwest College), Jackie Johnson (Duquesne), Elijah Parquet (Colorado), Justin Webster (Hawaii), Shane Nowell (Arizona), David Muoka (Lamar), Luis Rodriguez (Mississippi), Nick Walters (College of Southern Nevada) and Cameron Burist (Mesa (Ariz.) Community College). Nevada has six players who never played for another college, although transfers Will Baker (Texas), Jarod Lucas (Oregon State) and Kenan Blackshear (Florida Atlantic) have played a big role this year.
PACK BETTER FROM LINE: The Wolf Pack might have an advantage over the Rebels at the free-throw line. Nevada is first in the Mountain West in free throw shooting at .790 (366-of-463), while UNLV is ninth at .708 (291-411). Nevada has three players in the top eight of the Mountain West in free throw shooting: Will Baker (third, .851), Jarod Lucas (sixth, .836) and Kenan Blackshear (eighth, .809). UNLV’s Elijah Harkless is 11th (.790) and Keshon Gilbert is 16th (.736).
PACK STRUGGLING WITH BIG ROAD CROWDS: The Wolf Pack is 0-3 on the road in front of crowds of 5,000 or more this year, losing at Oregon (5,416), San Diego State (12,183) and Boise State (9,653). UNLV is averaging 5,461 fans a game this year at Thomas & Mack and might double that on Saturday against Nevada. The Wolf Pack has gone 1-10 on the road in front of crowds in excess of 5,000 over the last two years, with the lone victory coming at Utah State (7,866) on Feb. 11, 2022. The Wolf Pack, however, did win at Thomas & Mack, 82-79 in overtime, in front of a crowd of 11,607 on Feb. 12, 2020, and went to The Pit at New Mexico six days later and won again, 88-74, in front of crowd of 12,032.
WOLF PACK BASKETBALL
Who: Nevada (16-5, 6-2) at UNLV (13-7, 2-6)
When: Saturday, 7 p.m.
Where: Thomas & Mack Center
TV: CBS Sports Network
Radio: 94.5 FM (John Ramey)