Sparks off the bench fueled Nevada in a 95-77 victory over San Jose State on Saturday at Lawlor Events Center.
Nevada’s secondary unit provided a much-needed boost on both ends of the floor in a dominant win over its Mountain West Conference foe. The four-man group of senior Nisré Zouzoua and freshmen Kane Milling, Zane Meeks and K.J. Hymes helped the Pack score 39 bench points.
“I thought our guys played really hard and tough,” coach Steve Alford said. “We’ve seen a lot of growth out of Kane, K.J. and Nisré being a senior. … They’ve been playing well.”
Nevada, which wore black uniforms, improved to 15-10 overall and 8-5 in conference. The Wolf Pack have won their last 19 home conference games.
The Wolf Pack shot 48 percent from the floor and 35 percent from 3-point range. Jalen Harris scored 32 points — his fourth-straight game with 30 or more for a new Nevada record — on 13-of-23 shooting. He has double-digit scoring outputs in his last 21 games.
Harris is on a historic scoring streak with the Wolf Pack, and there may be no plans of slowing down anytime soon.
“It’s kind of the mindset I have,” Harris said. “You gotta believe that nobody can guard you. I just go out there and make plays. If scoring is the right play, then I’ll do it. So I just try to stay aggressive and confident.”
Off the bench, Milling scored a career-high 11 points on 3-of-6 shooting. Zouzoua totaled 15 points and six assists. Hymes added nine points and six rebounds.
Milling kept his foot on the accelerator as soon as he stepped onto the floor.
“It feels good for sure,” he said. “My mindset was just to go out there and be aggressive. I just wanted to go out there and prove them wrong.”
Senior guard Jazz Johnson returned to the starting lineup after battling right shoulder soreness the past two games. He limped to the locker room with an apparent injury nearly three minutes into the contest.
Johnson returned to the floor with 11:40 left in the first half and finished with 13 points and five rebounds. Alford kept Johnson on the bench to nurse the injury.
“It was good to get Jazz some minutes which really helps us,” Alford said. “He turned an ankle so once we got the lead we wanted to hold him out.”
San Jose State shot just 41 percent from the field and 25 percent from beyond the arc. Nevada turned 11 SJSU turnovers into 14 points in transition.
Sophomore guard Seneca Knight — the Spartans’ leading scorer — had a career-high 34 points on 10-of-22 shooting. He scored 13 of the last 17 points for San Jose State in the waning moments in the second half.
Knight scored 28 points against Nevada on Jan. 8 at the Provident Union Credit Center.
“I think he’s a very good player for one,” he said. “I think he’s a hard matchup. He can take you off the bounce or the pull-up game. He draws a lot of fouls, so he’s a tough matchup. But I thought we did a really good job overall.”
Harris, Johnson, Lindsey Drew, Robby Robinson and Johncarlos Reyes made up the starting five for the Pack. Nevada donned black uniforms with white trim for Black History Month.
The Wolf Pack jumped out to an early 10-5 lead four minutes into the contest. Johnson’s layup off the glass pushed Nevada’s lead to 22-13 with 10:21 remaining.
San Jose State cut its deficit to just four points. Nevada responded with a 19-9 run over the final five minutes to lead 48-31 at the half.
Nevada poured it on with a 16-3 run to start the second half. Harris’ 3-point basket at the top of the key put the Pack ahead 72-41. The Wolf Pack cruised the rest of the way with efficient shooting and stifling perimeter defense.
Up Next: Nevada hits the road to face in-state rival UNLV on Feb. 12. The Rebels are 11-13 overall and 6-5 in conference. The Wolf Pack are 1-7 on the road this season.
“We just have not had success on the road,” Alford said. “I told the guys in the locker room that is their next step. … If you want to separate yourself and make this special, we’ve gotta go on the road and win.”