GAME NOTES: The battle between conferences continues during the Mountain West- MVC Challenge on Friday night, as the Nevada Wolf Pack hosts the Drake Bulldogs at the Lawlor Events Center in Reno.
Nevada, undefeated at home over the course of four games this season, nearly saw that unblemished record take a hit on Wednesday when the team needed a late basket in order to take down visiting UC Davis by a score of 84-83. The win was the fourth in the last five games for a team that has yet to win anywhere else but Reno.
As for the Bulldogs, they've logged only two wins in five attempts to kick off the 2012-13 campaign, but one of those triumphs came against William Jewell in the season opener. More recently, the team was in action on Sunday versus Xavier and was dealt a 74-70 setback, the third in the last four games for the program, as part of the 2012 DirecTV Classic in Anaheim.
Drake has won all three of the previous meetings between these two squads, but they haven't been pitted against each other since 1969. The last meeting in Reno was a year earlier, with the Bulldogs putting up a 90-76 victory. Nevada had allowed at least 86 points in each of the first three matchups.
Even though the Bulldogs failed to get to the free-throw line a single time in the first half against Xavier at home last time out, they still owned a 30-26 edge at the break. However, the second half saw Drake make only 36.7 percent from the floor, en route to the four-point loss at the Anaheim Convention Center. Jordan Clarke settled in with a double-double for the Bulldogs, consisting of 12 points and 11 rebounds, but it was Joey King and Ben Simons who were responsible for much of the scoring as they accounted for 21 and 20 points, respectively. King, who has come off the bench in all five games, had just 25 total points before the meeting with the Musketeers. Simons is the consistent scorer for the Bulldogs, hitting for 17.4 ppg as he shoots 42.1 percent from three-point range, followed by Clarke and Richard Carter with 12.4 and 10.4 ppg, respectively.
A Deonte Burton jumper with three seconds remaining proved to be the difference for Nevada as the Wolf Pack slipped by UC Davis by just a single point in non-conference play at the Lawlor Events Center two nights ago. Burton finished the meeting with a game-high 26 points for Nevada, adding seven assists and five rebounds for the hosts. Malik Story accounted for 23 points and Jordan Burris 11 off the bench for the program as well. Burton is now responsible for 19.0 ppg to pace the Pack, shooting close to 50 percent from the floor while also delivering a team-best 20 assists and making 10 steals. Story accounts for 17.3 ppg having made 15-of-38 shots out on the perimeter for a team that is averaging six made three-pointers per contest. At least in the early going, the problem for the Pack seems to be a defense that is giving up 76.2 ppg, willing to trade baskets more often than not with the competition.
With the number of points that Nevada is giving up, the team cannot always count on someone like Burton to bail it out in the waning moments. Either the Pack straightens up on defense or a team like Drake will take advantage of them.
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