Showdown tonight in the Pan Am. First place is on the line as the Aggies try to knock off Nevada. By now you're well aware of our thoughts on the whole situation with regards to the shortened league schedule of 14 games and that this is a do-or-die type of game for the men's basketball team with regards to the regular season championship. A win by the Aggies puts them into a tie for first place (owning the head-to-head tiebreaker), a loss really puts Nevada in the catbird seat as they'd be two games up on the rest of the field with road wins over three of the four title contenders (a road trip to Honolulu still to come).
If you read yesterday's post you know that somehow stopping the Wolf Pack starters will be the key. So who needs a big game tonight? The Aggies needs big efforts from Hamidu Rahman and to a lesser degree Tshilidzi Nephawe. The Aggies have a considerable advantage in the post in terms of size and depth. The Aggies really need to get into the Wolf Pack bench in the front court where they can really take advantage of that lack of Nevada depth. The Aggie guards will need to have one of their best defensive games in order to stop the trio of Wolf Pack sharpshooters. You can probably figure on Deonte Burton scoring between 20 and 25 points tonight, he's a great player and he's going to get his points. He's also a stone cold killer in crunch time, demands the ball and will take the shot with the game on the line (he did so against Utah State and crushed their spirits with a four-point play). Malik Story and Jerry Evans Jr. are also sharpshooters and the Aggies can't let them get loose. Nevada has the ability to light it up from three and that will be the single biggest key and if the Aggies can take that away from Nevada, combined with the Aggies' advantage in the paint, they will win this game.
In terms of scoring, you know Wendell is going to get his points, Hernst has been more aggressive since the departure of Christian Kabongo, to the betterment of the Aggie offense. Daniel Mullings is a threat for the Aggies as well and could also have a solid scoring game, though his major contribution will be being able to closing out on three point shooters much like he did against Utah State.
The Aggies themselves need to hit three or four threes in this game as well, just to keep Nevada's defense from sagging into the paint and clogging up the lane.
We fully expect the Aggies to come out fired up and we expect them to win this game. The game is scheduled for a 7:00 p.m. (MT) start and can be seen on AggieVision, ESPN Full Court and ESPN3.com. Radio coverage will be available via the Aggie Sports Network.