The Nevada Wolf Pack men’s basketball team snapped its three game losing streak with a 77-64 home victory over No. 24 Colorado State on Jan. 24. The Wolf Pack led for the final 27 minutes and never looked back. With the win Nevada sits at fifth place in the Mountain West, with a record of 16-4 overall and 3-3 in conference play.
The Wolf Pack jumped out to an early 6-0 lead in the opening four minutes of the game. The Rams would take a 7-6 lead following back-to-back Wolf Pack turnovers. Both teams traded baskets before a three pointer from Jalen Lake, Colorado State guard, gave the Rams a 15-12 lead with 11:17 to play.
Following a missed shot from Blackshear, the Rams appeared to be headed for a fast break dunk to take a two possession lead. However, Tre Coleman, Nevada forward, hustled to the opposite end of the court preventing a Rams score at the rim. This play seemingly swung all momentum to the Wolf Pack, who would go on a 19-7 run with 1:27 remaining highlighted by three consecutive, three pointers made or assisted by Jarod Lucas, guard.
Lucas would ride his hot streak for the rest of the half, scoring on a last second buzzer beater to give the Wolf Pack a 35-27 edge at halftime. Lucas had 12 first-half points to lead the Wolf Pack.
To open the second half, both teams struggled to shoot the ball before Kenan Blackshear, Nevada guard, started to get in a groove, hitting successive jump shots to extend the Wolf Pack’s lead 39-27. An 8-2 Rams run cut the Nevada lead to 41-35 with 14:29 to go. However, Lucas quickly put an end to the run, connecting on his next four shots and scoring 10 points to place the Wolf Pack’s lead at 55-46 with 10:54 left.
The teams would again trade buckets back and forth until the Rams made it a six point game at 59-53 with 7:18. In response, Blackshear continued his electric run from earlier in the half, shooting 5-5 and scoring 12 points on fade away jumpers and layups. In the span of six minutes, the entire Nevada offense appeared unstoppable as the Wolf Pack took a 73-62 lead with 1:24 in the game. Nevada would lead by as many as 15 points before closing out Colorado State en route to a 77-64 victory.
The Wolf Pack’s superstar guard duo scored 48 of the team’s 77 points, led by Lucas with 28 points on 10-14 shooting and Blackshear with 20 points on 9-12 shooting. Nick Davidson, Nevada forward, continued his own strong stretch of games, posting his fourth game with at least 10 points and five rebounds in the last five contests.
“Sometimes it’s the captains who have to be challenged,” Steve Alford, head coach of the Nevada men’s basketball team, said in a press conference after the game. “And I thought Kenan responded with a tremendous game, Jarod got us over the hump with his scoring in the second half.”
The offensive explosion was not the only reason Nevada got the win. While Tre Coleman, Nevada forward, did not have the most efficient night shooting the ball, he flashed his all-defense capabilities. He held the Rams top scorer, Isaiah Stevens, Colorado State guard, to eight points on 4-16 shooting, his worst showing of the season. Nevada collectively held the high scoring Colorado State offense to 39% shooting on 24-61, a staggering 11% drop from their season average of 51%.
The win keeps Nevada in the thick of things in the ultra competitive Mountain West Conference, which had three teams in No. 18 Utah State, No. 24 Colorado State, and No. 25 New Mexico ranked in the top 25 at the beginning of the week of Jan. 22.
Lucas emphasized how big of a win this was for the team.
“You look at the Mountain West, I think this is the premier conference in the west coast,” Lucas said. “You know night in, night out, it’s going to be a battle. We had a top 25 team coming in and we had to handle business, and we’re going to go to New Mexico and have another top 25 team.”
The Wolf Pack’s next challenge will come on the road, where they will travel to Albuquerque, New Mexico to take on the No. 25 New Mexico Lobos (17-3, 5-2 MWC) on Jan. 28 at 7 p.m.
James Wolfgang Perez can be reached via email email@example.com or via Twitter @JamesWPerezUNR