Team Profile: VCU – Nevada Recap
Nevada 71, VCU 70
In many cases teams don’t play as well without their head coach. That wasn’t the case on Friday night when Nevada coach Mark Fox was ejected with 8:20 to play with his Wolf Pack squad down close to double-digits. Fox’s ejection, due to arguing with a questionable foul call, energized the home Nevada crowd and his team.
Though VCU had controlled throughout, Nevada clamped down on defense and finished the game on an 18-8 run over the final six minutes. Even more impressive was the Wolf Pack’s ability to shut down VCU standout point guard Eric Maynor toward the end of the game. Maynor, whose running floaters are as deadly as any in the country, ended the game with a game-high 28 points. Credit the Nevada defense for cutting off Maynor drives to the hoop and making him shoot outside, perhaps the only question mark in his otherwise entertaining array of skills.
The Nevada offense wasn’t shabby either, displaying excellent balance. Five players scored in double figures. Freshman sensation Luke Babbitt had 15 points to pace the Wolf Pack. In the last few minutes of the game Nevada was more aggressive, attacking the basketball and ultimately fouling out VCU big-man Larry Sanders, one of the best shot blockers in the country. His disappearance allowed the Wolf Pack guards to break their defenders down off the dribble and attack the basket at will. Combined with their precision at the foul line (24-27), Nevada was able to steal a win away from VCU.
VCU fell to 19-9 and must regroup for the final two games of their regular season. Losses in two of their last three games have the Rams reeling as they get ready to try and reclaim the Colonial Athletic Association Tournament and return to the NCAA Tournament. An at-large bid wasn’t really in the cards before this game, and certainly isn’t after it. The Rams are a solid 13 seed on Selection Sunday should they win the CAA Tournament, but if they fail to do so, they’ll surely receive an NIT bid.
For Nevada it was an uplifting victory in what has been a sub-par season for the normally outstanding program. Though the third straight win moved them to 16-10, they now must gear up for another home matchup against conference-leading Utah State on February 28th. The WAC has been exceptionally weak outside of Utah State this year, and this was a major statement game. Depending on the geography of the site hosts, it would not surprise Bracketography to see the Wolf Pack on the #13 line in Boise or the #14 line in Portland if they were to win the WAC Tournament.