That first step is a doozy. Junior guard Jalen Harris made the most of his return in a 80-73 victory over Texas-Arlington on Tuesday at Lawlor Events Center in Reno.The Wolf Pack improved to 2-1.
Harris consistently drove into the paint with a quick first step. He missed Saturday’s contest against Loyola Marymount with what appeared to be a severe right foot sprain. But he was fine on this night, scoring a team-high 24 points on 6-of-18 shooting with nine rebounds and two assists.
The 6-foot-5 guard who likes to finish his drives with dunks is from Duncanville, Texas, located a few miles from the Texas-Arlington campus.
“UTA is a good team, that’s where I’m from just a couple minutes down the road,” Harris said postgame. “I know the players and the coaching staff well. This team comes out and plays hard, so for us to come out with that win at home is a good feeling.”
Nevada shot 46 percent from the field and 47 percent from 3-point range — including 7-of-11 in the first half — to help tame Texas-Arlington’s offensive attack. Nevada made just 16 of 30 from the free throw line.
The two teams battled until the final buzzer, but the Wolf Pack held on with timely shooting a stingy perimeter defense. Texas-Arlington was held to 3-for-9 shooting in the final four minutes, a point of emphasis from head coach Steve Alford.
“We won the last four-minute game, which we haven’t done,” Alford said. “We lost two previous four-minute games so that was big. … We put a lot of emphasis on that at halftime, winning the first four (minutes) and winning the last four (minutes).”
Three players scored in double figures. Jazz Johnson scored 16 points on 3-of-6 shooting from deep. Nisré Zouzoua added 16 points and three assists off the bench.
Lindsey Drew, who was named Mountain West Player of the Week on Monday, had seven points, eight rebounds and four rebounds.
The Mavericks was held to 34 percent from the floor. They nailed 11 3-pointers courtesy of Jabaris Nacris and Sam Griffin. The two players went 6-of-13 from 3-point range.
Nevada won the battle of the boards, out-rebounding Texas-Arlington 43-30. Alford instituted a four-guard lineup of Johnson, Drew, Harris, Zouzoua and Kane Milling to counter the Mavericks’ small-ball lineup.
“It was a hard game to play for our bigs, since they don’t really have a center,” he said. “It’s basically four guards and a forward. So we went four guard in the second half and handled things very well.”
A three-guard starting five of Drew, Johnson, Harris, Johncarlos Reyes and Robby Robinson took the floor for the Pack.
Texas-Arlington held a slim 16-14 lead eight minutes into the first half. Nevada answered with back-to-back 3-pointers. The Wolf Pack went on a 11-6 run and led 38-35 at the half.
Zouzoua’s conventional three-point play increased Nevada’s lead to 49-45 with 14 minutes remaining in the second half. Harris’ free throw attempts kept the Pack’s 64-58 lead intact with seven minutes left to play.
The Mavericks cut the deficit to 75-71 with under a minute left to play, but Nevada secured the win from the free throw line.
Nevada faces USC of the PAC-12 Conference on Saturday at Lawlor Events Center.
Notes: The Wolf Pack attempted 30 free throws. … The two teams combined for 46 personal fouls. Robby Robinson had eight rebounds.