After playing their first four games of the season at home, the Nevada Wolf Pack hit the road for a two-game tournament to Las Vegas for the Continental Tire Las Vegas Invitational.
Nevada opened the tournament with a game against the Tulsa Golden Hurricane. Both teams were 4-0 entering the matchup. Nevada started out hot as a Jordan Caroline layup put the Wolf Pack up 15 seconds into the game, then hitting a three-pointer to expand the lead to five. Nevada didn’t relinquish the lead for the entirety of the game.
The Wolf Pack allowed 51 second half points from the Golden Hurricane. It was the most the Pack given up in a single half all season and the only time they have been outscored in a half.
Although Nevada led the entire game, there were still issues for the sixth ranked team in the nation. Caleb Martin struggled, shooting 4-16 overall and 3-13 from beyond the arc. He made up for it at the free throw line going a perfect 10-10, while Caroline shot 12-17 from the charity stripe. Tulsa shot 53.7 percent from the floor, and just under 78 percent from the free throw line. While putting up 96 points, Nevada shot only 43.9 percent from the floor. The Wolf Pack shot 15 more free throws than the Golden Hurricane, and made 14 of those 15.
After the victory against Tulsa, the Wolf Pack awaited the winner of UMass and Southern Illinois.
In game two of the weekend, the Wolf Pack faced of against the UMass Minutemen. The early knockings of the game were a back-and-forth affair.
The Wolf Pack took a 21-20 lead after a Cody Martin layup and never looked back. The remainder of the first half was filled with scoring from both sides. The Wolf Pack scored took a 56-49 lead into halftime. The 49 points given up by Nevada was the most given up in the first half this season.
Nevada exploded in the second half scoring for 54 points while only giving 38. 110 points is the most the Pack have scored since December 2015. Even though the Pack scored their most points against a Division I school since Eric Musselman’s arrival, Nevada only had 12 assists.
Caleb Martin finished with a team-high 29 points, shooting 60 percent from both the field and three-point range. Jordan Caroline captured his fourth consecutive double-double of the season after a 16 point, 10 rebound performance. Freshman Jordan Brown only played four minutes, the lowest since the opening night game against BYU.
Despite having their worst defensive performances of the season, the Wolf Pack won and added another trophy to their collection thanks to their offensive efforts.
Caleb Martin was named MVP of the Tournament while Jordan Caroline and Tre’Shawn Thurman joined him on the all-tournament team. Caroline averaged a double-double for the tournament and Thurman bagged a career-high 22 points in the UMass game and a SportsCenter Top 10 play in the game prior.
On the bench the Wolf Pack looked to be missing a few players as freshmen Jalen Townsell, Vincent Lee and K.J. Hymes did not make the trip to Vegas. This can be seen as a sign that Eric Musselman plans to have the three players redshirt this season.
The Wolf Pack play Loyola Chicago Tuesday, Nov. 27, at Gentile Arena in a 2018 NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 rematch.
Darion Strugs can be reached at email@example.com and on Twitter @dstrugs.