By Chris Boline
As the sun set in Colorado Springs, Colo., Nevada emerged victorious in not only snapping its losing skid, but possibly finding a season-ending spark to save its season. The Wolf Pack dismantled the Falcons by a score of 75-56 on the road and showed flashes of what Nevada fans thought this team’s potential to be.
Discounting the season-opening exhibition against Montana Tech, the Wolf Pack slashed the Falcons to the tune of its most decisive win (19 points) of the season.
Although the cadets are ranked near the bottom in the Mountain West, thrashing them is absolutely what Nevada needed. With Deonte Burton cresting the wave over the 2,000 point mark and Jerry Evans coming off a bruising double-double, the Wolf Pack seems to be on the right track once again.
However, from the bottom to the top is where Nevada heads to this week. The Wolf Pack returns home to face giant-killer New Mexico, who just knocked off then No. 6 San Diego State at The Pit. The last time New Mexico and Nevada locked claws was at the home of the Lobos, and it was not pretty.
In a track meet of a contest, New Mexico blitzed the Pack in the first game of its three-game winning streak. During the streak, the Lobos have featured three different leading scorers: center Alex Kirk notched 29 points against the Wolf Pack, guard Kendall Williams also scored 29 for the Lobos when they out punched UNLV and forward Cameron Bairstow eclipsed 26 points in the upset against the Aztecs. The three-headed hydra of Kirk, Bairstow and Williams will serve as the main obstacle against Nevada, but the Pack is well aware of this.
In the first meeting this season, Williams was limited to only seven points, but the duo of Kirk and Bairstow combined for 53 of the Lobos’ 90 points. In the same vein as Williams, Burton was held to only 12 points in the loss, while Michael Perez and Cole Huff notched 18 points each.
This penultimate home game will also be one of the final show cases for Deonte Burton in front of the pro scouts. The preseason all-Mountain West first-team selection was dynamic against Air Force by putting up 21 points, but was slowed down last week against San Jose State with a stomach virus.
This is a showcase game for Burton, and if he is able to rise to the occasion, Nevada’s chances of victory should skyrocket. As has been the case for the Wolf Pack the majority of this season, they will be fighting uphill. Nevada is one game above .500 in conference play, but the final three games of the season will test whatever mettle they still have left.
Chris Boline can be reached at email@example.com.