The Nevada Wolf Pack men’s basketball team threw down during the second annual throwback night in a 85-60 victory over San Francisco State.
The Wolf Pack returned to their old ways offensively in front of an electric sold-out crowd at the Virginia Street Gym Friday night. Four players scored in double figures including Caleb Martin, who finished with a team-high 19 points on 5-14 shooting. Senior forward Tre’Shawn Thurman, a transfer from Omaha, added 15 points and six rebounds.
Head coach Eric Musselman joined in on the throwback festivities. He and the rest of the Nevada coaching staff sported classic Adidas sweatsuits and gold chains around their necks to complement their crisp, black fedoras.
On the defensive end, Nevada’s troubles guarding the three point-line continued. The Gators punished the Wolf Pack for sagging off by spacing the floor and kicking it out to three-point shooters. Center Ryne Williams and guard Jiday Ugbaja combined for 30 points and were 6-15 from behind the arc. The Gators connected on 11 three-pointers as a team.
Despite their defensive woes on the perimeter, the Pack suffocated the Gators inside, limiting them to 21 total points in the paint and 14 in the second half. Nevada also scored 28 points off 27 turnovers, utilizing a half-court trap for much of the second half.
Musselman’s post-game frustrations followed by a long, hard week of practice seemed to light a fire under the rest of the team after a disappointing 91-73 loss to Washington. The Wolf Pack came out of the gates firing, scoring on three-straight possessions to open up the intense matchup. Caleb Martin found his shooting stroke with an early six points.
Jordan Caroline flashed back to an old-school style of basketball, punishing the Gators down low with several post moves and step back jumpers. Trey Porter’s high-flying athleticism is looking like a seamless fit with the Wolf Pack offense. The 6’11” senior forward brought the crowd to their feet with two ferocious dunks.
After a hot offensive start, the Wolf Pack found points the old fashioned way via the free throw line. They were in the bonus with 11:27 left in the first half and took advantage, tallying 10 points from the stripe. But the Gators responded with a 7-0 run of their own to cut the deficit to four points.
The Gators answered once again with back-to-back three pointers from Williams and Ugbaja, giving them a slim 39-38 lead at the halftime buzzer.
Nevada came out of the halftime locker room engaged defensively, playing the passing lanes and forcing multiple loose ball turnovers. Caroline and Cody Martin formed a half-court trap that limited the Gators’ offensive ball movement.
Musselman made a crucial adjustment in the second-half, he substituted Thurman in for Jordan Brown, going with a much smaller unit on the floor. The move paid off as Thurman nailed back-to-back three pointers to cap off a 10-0 run.
The Wolf Pack pulled away in the closing stages, as their perimeter shooting came back to life with three-straight three pointers to put them up 78-54 with under five minutes left in the game. Cody Martin’s breakaway slam off a clean steal brought the rowdy fans to their feet once again and sealed the win for Nevada.
Nevada’s second half beatdown showcased their talent and depth Nevada has in its arsenal. Musselman can keep teams off balance with multiple units on the floor. Thurman made his case for a nod into the starting lineup, as his ability to score off the dribble and from deep makes him a versatile threat offensively. Overall, the Wolf Pack’s defensive mentality shifted the tides in the second half, and their increased effort can resolve any slump they have on the other end.
After two warm up games, the Pack will open the regular season Tuesday, Nov. 6, against BYU. Look for them to bring an increased intensity on both ends of the floor to get their season off on the right foot.
Isaiah Burrows can be reached at email@example.com and on Twitter @SagebrushSports.