The Nevada men’s basketball team has been on a tear lately, as they sit in a lovers’ seat with the Boise State Broncos atop the Mountain West. A vast amount of Nevada’s “fans” weren’t “fans” until the Wolf Pack hit ESPN Top 10 during their enthralling performance against New Mexico State. So it is necessary that we see their journey to their current standing. We’ll start from where the University became a ghost town: Dec. 21.
NEVADA VS TOWSON
Nevada kicked off the South Point Holiday Hoops Classic in Las Vegas against Towson University. The game started off as a back-and-forth affair as both teams traded basket after basket. The Pack started to pull away in the first period at the 5:25 mark, following two free throws made by true freshman Josh Hall. Nevada ended the first with a 42-36 lead, shooting a superb 52.2 percent from the field and over 40 percent from behind the arc. Once the second period began, the Pack held nothing back. They went on to win the game 81-72, not allowing Towson to even tie the game again, let alone have the lead.
NEVADA VS UC SANTA BARBARA
Following Nevada’s victory over Towson, the Pack was pitted against the Gauchos of Santa Barbara. Nevada and Santa Barbara shot lights out during the first period, as the Pack made 48 percent of their shots, and the Gauchos made 50 percent of theirs. Santa Barbara appeared to be one step ahead of Nevada during the first. The Pack found themselves down 11 with 11:37 left, and it may have stayed that way had Marcus Marshall not spurred a 10-2 run to get within five after going two-for-three from behind the arc over the course of three minutes and eight seconds. The period would end with Nevada down 39-38, featuring six lead changes. The second period started off strong for the Pack as Marcus Marshall knocked down a three to put Nevada up by two. Nevada held the lead for a majority of the second period until the Gaucho’s Vincent Gabe knocked down a three with 3:21 in the game to give Santa Barbara the lead at 60-58. Santa Barbara held the lead for a mere minute and six seconds before the Wolf Pack’s Jordan Caroline knotted it all up at 60-60. The final minutes became a tug-of-war, but the Pack would seize the day, taking the contest at 67-66.
NEVADA VS SAN JOSE STATE
The Pack caught a six-day break before they squared off against the San Jose Spartans in Reno three days after Christmas. The outcome of this game brought good tidings to every Wolf Pack fan, as it was a shellacking on all accords. The game looked as if it were boys versus men, as Nevada held no prisoners. The first period ended with Nevada up by 11, as they took advantage of numerous second chance opportunities. The second period allowed Nevada to open up their game plan a bit more, building upon their lead. The game would end with Nevada winning by a score of 80-55 and Marshall leading the scoring column with 25 points. San Jose State shot a lackluster 29.2 percent from the field for the game.
NEVADA VS FRESNO STATE
Up until Nevada’s game against Fresno State, the Pack hadn’t lost a game since they faced off against Iona in the championship game of the GCI Great Alaska Shootout. Sadly for the Pack, Save Mart Center in Fresno, California, would become the graveyard for their seven game win streak The first period was a neck and neck battle, featuring five lead changes and 16 collective turnovers. Even though Nevada’s Marshall would convert on the final shot of the period, Fresno State would take the lead into the second, 33-32. Although the Pack was down going into the second period, they hit the ground running, taking the lead and holding it until there was 6:30 left in the game, when a jumper from Fresno State’s Jaron Hopkins tied the game up, giving Fresno state the lead for two minutes. Just when Nevada looked as if they were out of it, Jordan Caroline went to the line, converting both free throws to give Nevada the lead with 2:36 left. Nevada held off Fresno State for a bit, but after a devastating dunk by Hopkins, Nevada failed to overcome the deficit, losing 77-76.
NEVADA VS SDSU
While some teams may slide into a funk following a close loss to a conference opponent, the Wolf Pack bounced back quickly. Prior to the Pack facing off against the Aztecs in Reno on Jan. 4, the Pack had not won a game against SDSU since 1999. Nevada did not let history dictate their future, as both Cameron Oliver and Jordan Caroline put up double-doubles, helping the Wolf Pack earn another conference win. Oliver put Nevada on the board during the first possession of the game with a dagger from behind the arc. They would hold the lead until SDSU’s Jeremy Hemsley converted a lay up to tie the game at 14-14 with 9:43 left in the first. The rest of the period would feature three more lead changes, ultimately leading Nevada into the second period with a 4-point lead. The Aztecs would never find themselves in the lead again, as Nevada buckled down defensively, committed no turnovers and improved the quality of their shots. Even with the Aztecs late surge, the Wolf Pack would take the game 72-69.
NEVADA VS NEW MEXICO
Some are calling Nevada’s comeback victory over New Mexico State one of the most remarkable resurgences in NCAA Basketball history. The Wolf Pack had previously defeated the Aggies during their match-up in the quarterfinals of the MWC tournament. However Nevada had never won a game in Pan American Center, until a they took the court on a chilly January evening. The Aggies opened up the game with a layup from Tim Williams. The first five minutes would be headlined by two ties and three lead changes. The last lead change being a go-ahead jumper from New Mexico’s Jalen Harris, putting the score at 8-7, Aggies. Nevada would fail to recapture the lead for the remainder of the first period, going into the second half with 13-point deficit. The Wolf Pack came out of the half shooting well, but the Aggies seemed to have an answer for everything. Nevada found themselves in a double-digit hole for the majority of the second period. At the 9:13 mark, the Pack found themselves down 78-55, but fortunately for them, this would be the start of one of the most impressive runs in NCAA basketball history. Caroline would knock down both of his free throws at the 8:59 mark to get the Pack within 21. Following a missed three by Aggie’s Elijah Brown, Wolf Pack’s D.J. Fenner knocks down a three with 8:25 to go, putting the score at 78-60. A few jumpers, free throws and missed shots later, Nevada found themselves down 87-68, with just 4:27 left in the second. At this point Nevada’s comeback looked to be impossible, but in sports, the impossible is more probable than many may believe. During the final four and a half minutes Nevada would find themselves on a 26-7 run, fueled by a host of daggers from behind the arc from Charlie Tooley, Jordan Caroline and Marcus Marshall, and New Mexico State leaving an immense amount of cheese and lettuce at the free throw line. Wolf Pack’s Marshall would knock down the final three with seven seconds remaining on the clock to send the game into an overtime thriller. Even though Nevada went into the overtime period riding high on momentum, they would find themselves playing catch-up a majority of the time. However, just as they did during the waning moments of the second, the Pack would spur a 7-1 run, with a buzzer beater three from Caroline to close out the game. Caroline seemed to have ice in his veins when he took the shot, leading to the Wolf Pack to its first victory in Pan American Center.
NEVADA VS WYOMING
Nevada had a seven-day grace period, leading them to Laramie, WY, for their game against the Wyoming Cowboys. Even though they found themselves down early in the game, they are no strangers to adversity after their mesmerizing performance against New Mexico. The Cowboys lead was short lived, as Nevada took the reigns with 16:26 in the period, and kept it for the remainder of the period. The Wolf Pack came into the second period with an eight-point lead and would never allow the Cowboys back into the game. Marshal headlined the scoring column with 32 points, and Caroline and Oliver both acquired double-doubles in the rebounds and points category.
NEVADA VS AIR FORCE
After finishing off the Cowboys, Nevada traveled back home to take on the Air Force Falcons. Even though Nevada gave away the ball four more times than the Falcons, the Pack was unconscious from the field during the first, shooting 57.7 percent. The Pack put up 42 points in the first, half of which came from D.J. Fenner. Although Air Force made a valiant effort to get back in the game, tying it up at 59 a piece with 8:49 to go in the period. Nevada refused to trail even once, defeating the Falcons 83-76. With this win over the Falcons, the Wolf Pack’s win streak stood at four, and they had let to lose a game at home.
NEVADA VS FRESNO STATE Pt. 2
Just as the Nevada Men’s Basketball team was picking up momentum to go on another streak their train was derailed by the Fresno State Bulldogs yet again. Prior to the Wolf Pack’s game against Fresno State, Nevada had not lost at home since March 5, 2016, when they dropped their last regular season game against the Lobos. Nevada found themselves in a hole early, being down 17 with 6:35 to go in the half. The Pack made a small dent into the lead, but would still go into the second with their largest deficit at home this season at 13. The Wolf Pack played follower for the entire second period, coming within one point of tying on multiple occasions. Nevada would never fins the wherewithal to complete a comeback victory, eventually dropping their second game to Fresno State 81-76.