Nevada Wolf Pack hosts Wyoming Cowboys on Jan. 3 | SierraSun.com

Nevada Wolf Pack hosts Wyoming Cowboys on Jan. 3

Darrell Moody
dmoody@nevadaappeal.com

Lindsey Drew goes up against New Mexico on Saturday.

Two streaks are on the line when the Wyoming Cowboys visit Nevada on Wednesday, Jan. 3.

Nevada has won its first two Mountain West games, and is seeking to get its first 3-0 conference start under coach Eric Musselman. It would be the best start since the 2013-14 team under David Carter started 4-0. The Pack is also putting its 12-game home win streak on the line.

It won’t be easy. The Cowboys average 8.9 3-pointers a game, and the health of the Wolf Pack is a major issue. Musselman indicated sophomore Josh Hall isn’t likely to play for the second straight contest.

The Cowboys hit 12 3-pointers against San Diego State in a mild 82-69 upset of the Aztecs. It was the first time since the Cowboys played Pacific they’ve made 10 or more free throws.

“Wyoming can really shoot the 3 and they play fast,” Nevada coach Eric Musselman said. “Obviously (Hayden) Dalton is a guy we have to be concerned with what he did against San Diego State (36 points). (Justin) James is good at isolation, 1 on 1 and getting to the basket. (Cody) Kelley is doing a good job of running the show and knocking down 3s. (Alan) Herndon can hit 3s and does a good job posting up.

“We have to guard the 3. We did a great job against Davidson (after an initial 3-for-3 outburst). Wyoming presents a lot of different problems. Wyoming has a lot of guys that have played together multiple years. All we can do is try to get ready and defend the 3.”

Lindsey Drew said 6-10 Alan Herndon and the 6-8 Dalton are playing well.

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“Hayden went for more than 30 (36 against San Diego State), so we have to challenge him,” said the Nevada junior. “James is an athletic 3 man.”

Dalton’s 36-point outburst was the most points by an individual player in the Arena-Auditorium since Ugo Udezue had 36 against Colorado on Dec. 9, 1998. It was also the most points by a UW player since Larry Nance, Jr. scored 38 at Denver on Dec. 15, 2013.

“We have to come out with energy right from the start,” said reserve guard Hallice Cooke. “We have to take away the 3 and get back on defense. They like to get out in transition.”

Playing with pace may be a challenge for the Pack. Musselman said after the 77-74 win over New Mexico several players were ailing with flu-like symptoms.

“Not good,” Musselman said when asked about the team’s health. “Some guys are sicker and a couple aren’t at practice. We just have to go out and play the game.

“Caleb yelled at me during the (New Mexico) game to call timeout. That (being sick) is why he wanted a timeout. That hadn’t come out of his mouth yet this year. They are all drinking as much fluid and getting as much sleep as they can. Whatever medicine the doctor prescribed they’re taking.”

Musselman said he wants to continue to play up tempo.

“Our biggest concern, it’s not our bye week, how do we get healthy enough to sustain energy during the course of the game. I thought it affected us against New Mexico as the game wore on.

“We are not going to slow the game down. We’re going to look to push and play with pace.”

Musselman, who will be playing with essentially an eight-person team if Hall doesn’t play, may use 6-7 Elijah Foster and 6-8 Darien Williams more than he has lately in an effort to give guys extra rest.

Nevada came into the conference season as the team to beat, and Musselman was asked about being the team to beat.

“One thing as I’ve gotten older is I worry about the game in front of you,” he said. “Nobody can dictate how the season is going to unfold. We have done a good job of being focused and ready to play every night except the USF game (66-64 loss). It was right before the holidays and we were not ready to play.

“We have to figure out how to beat Wyoming, regroup, and go on the road and play against Air Force. I don’t look at who is winning right now.”