The Nevada Wolf Pack men’s basketball team developed a reputation in its Sweet 16 season as a second-half team. That trend seems to be establishing itself early in the 2018 campaign, regardless of the opponent.
In the end, Nevada cruised to an 81-63 victory over the visiting Pacific Tigers at Lawlor Events Center, but it may have taken a bit more effort than expected.
“We’re 2-0. Every game is hard. In college basketball upsets happen every night,” coach Eric Musselman said. “Look at Loyola losing at home tonight to an unranked team.”
The Wolf Pack was unable to exploit its considerable height advantage in the first half despite easy entry passes over the top of Pacific’s zone defense to Trey Porter and freshman Jordan Brown, who had trouble finishing. Brown saw his first significant game action, contributing a team-leading seven rebounds and three blocks in 21 minutes.
The smaller, and at times quicker, Tigers kept the game within reach, down 34-25 at the half. Roberto Gallinat chipped in seven points and sophomore forward Jeremiah Bailey added six points going 2-2 from distance.
Four of Nevada’s starting five were on the floor at least 16 minutes in the half, avoiding the foul trouble they had in their first outing against BYU. With the inside game sputtering, the Pack relied on exceptional three-point shooting from senior transfer Tre’Shawn Thurman (3-3), Jazz Johnson (2-3) and Cody Martin (2-3).
“I’m really proud of Tre’ Thurman. He’s not known as a three-point shooter but he’s worked really hard,” Musselman said.
Thurman added: “We’re just scratching the surface with all the guys who can shoot the three. We even have a couple guys that haven’t got it going yet.”
The second half produced the results most expected to see. Nevada increased its intensity and speed. Forward Jordan Caroline scored seven points in the first four minutes by driving the lane, and the Wolf Pack never looked back.
Nevada’s more aggressive approach on both ends of the floor resulted in not only transition points and open three-point looks, of which they knocked down 15 of 31 attempts, but also foul trouble for the under-sized Tigers.
“We’re starting to understand each other’s games, and the chemistry is coming together,” senior forward Cody Martin said, who had 10 assists. “Our practice habits have gotten better and everyone is buying in, especially defensively.”
Notes: Cody Martin posted his fifth career double finishing with 11 points and 10 assists. In two games he has 21 assists and just three turnovers… The Wolf Pack had 21 assists in the game and only seven turnovers. … Caleb Martin went scoreless in the first half for the second consecutive game but added 22 points in the second half. … Junior Jazz Johnson has 12 points for the second game in a row. … Senior Jordan Caroline scored 16 points, bringing his career total at Nevada to 1,221 and moving him past Ken Green into 19th place on the Wolf Pack career scoring list. … Nevada made 18 free throws while Pacific attempted just 14. … Thurman, a senior transfer scored in double figures for the first time with his 14 points and added five rebounds.