Utah St vs Nevada: Preview & Prediction

January 7th, 2012

NEVADA (11-3, 1-0 WAC) AT UTAH STATE (9-6, 1-0 WAC)


Time/TV: 6 p.m./WSN, ESPN3


Location: Dee Glen Smith Spectrum


RPI Rankings: Nevada 99; Utah State 135


Line: Utah State -4.5


Nevada Players to Watch: PG Deonte Burton, 6-1 So. (14.9 ppg, 4.7 apg, 1.2 spg); F Olek Czyz, 6-7 Sr. (10.2 ppg, 5.5 rpg, 49.5% FG); F Dario Hunt, 6-8 Sr. (9.9 ppg, 8.6 rpg, 2.1 bpg). Burton, Czyz and Hunt could also have NBA careers.


Utah State Players to Watch: G Preston Medlin, 6-4 So. (14.7 ppg, 3.9 rpg, 3.3 apg); F Kyisean Reed, 6-6 Jr. (10.4 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 62.9% FG); G Brockeith Pane, 6-1 Sr. (10.8 ppg, 3.7 apg, 2.7 rpg). Pane still hasn’t broken out as has was expected to coming into this season, and that may be a scary thought for upcoming opponents.


Storyline: Nevada and Utah State, who both opened WAC play with victories, are expected to be two of the league’s frontrunners. Nevada, which features four of the WAC’s best players, has won 11 of its last 12 games. The defending WAC champion Aggies have won 5 of 6 after starting slow.


Keys to Victory: Utah State is always tough on defense, and the Wolfpack has the league’s most explosive offense. The point guard matchup between Pane and Burton will be fun to watch and critical in the outcome. Pane scored 35 points against Burton and the Aggies a year ago and has beaten the Wolfpack five straight seasons. Hunt could dominate on the inside against the smaller Aggies.


The Bottom Line: This is one game not to be missed on Saturday. It will almost certainly go down to the final handful of possessions. There’s no question Nevada has the most talented team in the WAC. There are still question marks about its toughness. Stealing a win at the hostile Spectrum takes a lot of toughness.


The Pick: Utah State 73, Nevada 70.