Colorado State Forward J.J. Avila
The Mountain West Conference year in and year out has a list of many
impactful transfers, and this year that list is headlined by Avila. The
Navy Midshipmen transfer is averaging 18.4ppg, 7.6rpg, and 3.6apg for
the Rams and he's being efficient in doing so, shooting 49% from the
field. Those stats make Avila the leading scorer and assist man on the
team, as well as the second leading rebounder. The 6-7 junior, as coach
David Carter commented on in his weekly press conference, can score
inside when matched up with a smaller player but also can keep the
defense honest with his three point shot. Avila is a difference maker
in ways other than his scoring as shown by his statistics. Averaging
2.8 offensive boards a game, it is important for whoever matches up
against him on defense, whether it be A.J. West or Cole Huff, to box out
and limit his second chance opportunities. Nevada has struggled
recently on the glass so Avila may have the advantage here.
Additionally Colorado State, similarly to Nevada, gets most of its
production from the starters and very few productive minutes from the
bench, so keeping a key player like Avila in check or even in foul
trouble will be a huge difference maker.
Colorado State Guard Daniel Bejarano
If Avila is the big man to focus in on, Bejarano is the guard to stop.
The teams second leading scorer and assist man, and leading rebounder
is averaging 16.5ppg, 9.0rpg, and 3.1apg. Bejarano is going to take a
lot of shots. There isn’t a shot on the floor Bejarano doesn’t like. He
has the ability to shoot Colorado State into games, but also the
ability to shoot the team out of games. He takes nearly half of his
shots from behind the arc, nearly six a game, but his greatest strength
is arguably getting to the rim. This is not the Colorado State team of
last year where the team worked inside out. This year’s version works
mostly outside in and Bejarano is the key to this change. Jerry Evans
Jr., Nevada’s best defender, well matchup against Bejarano to start the
game and use his length to bother the Ram’s best perimeter player.
Nevada must tire Bejarano out and attack him on the offensive end,
similarly to Avila because again, Colorado State has a very weak bench,
so forcing Ram coach Larry Eustachy to play his bench will be a key to
victory for the Wolf Pack.
Nevada Guard Michael Perez
Perez might be the most underrated piece of the Nevada team. His
offense when Deonte Burton is not on the floor keeps Nevada moving
without its star. And ever since backup point guard Marqueze Coleman
returned from his eye injury, Perez often plays more minutes than
Burton. Coach David Carter often looks for specific times to get Burton
a breather, but that’s not necessarily the case for Perez. To think
Nevada can’t win without Perez being effective would be wrong, games
against SJSU and UC Davis have proven that to be true, but Perez is the
huge boost to the scoring adding to the contributions from Burton,
Evans Jr., and the emerging Cole Huff that Nevada needs. Furthermore
Perez’s ability to keep the defense honest with his driving ability,
often looking for a pull up jumper more than attacking the rim, opens
up space for shooters such as Evans Jr. and Huff. For Nevada to win
Wednesday, having Perez score 15+ points will be key.
This game has all the makings of a close game, and I expect it to be
that way. Nevada’s last two games have both gone to overtime, so let’s
hope for fatigue’s sake that doesn’t happen again. Colorado State is
well coached but they don’t have the same talent in the starting five,
and the lack of depth will come back to hurt them in this game.
Nevada 67 Colorado State 63