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Tale of two halves: Second-half surge leads Nevada over USC

Fifth-ranked Wolf Pack improve to 8-0

NCAA Basketball: Nevada at Southern California Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

The fifth-ranked Nevada Wolf Pack faced their toughest competition of the season, but a second-half surge kept their record spotless in a 73-61 victory over the USC Trojans Saturday.

The Pack outscored the Trojans 38-27 in the second half on 53 percent shooting from the field. The outburst erased their first halftime deficit of the season (35-34). They’ve won all eight games by double-digits.

THE RUNDOWN:

OFFENSE:

  • The Wolf Pack shot just 47 percent from the field. The Trojans’ 2-3 zone defense gave Nevada headaches on the perimeter, but it was a field day for senior forward Jordan Caroline in the paint. His 24 points (9-22) led all scorers to go along with a team-high 11 rebounds and two assists. Caroline has six double-doubles this season and 33 for his career. He also passed Luke Babbitt for 15th all-time in school with 1,328 career points.
  • It was a cold night from the field for the Martin twins. They combined for 20 points on 8-19 shooting and 2-6 from the three-point line. Senior forward Tre’Shawn Thurman picked up the slack with 14 points and nine rebounds. Thurman’s impressive play from the field kept the Wolf Pack in the game for much of the first half, including this alley-oop slam before the buzzer.
  • Second half adjustments: Nevada’s potent offense returned to form in the second half. They shot 50 percent behind the arc and added nine more points from the free-throw line. Jazz Johnson’s three-pointer put the Pack up double digits with under 14 minutes remaining and they never looked back.

DEFENSE:

  • Nevada held USC to 43 percent shooting for the game and 36 percent in the second half. The Trojans were short-handed to begin the with, star freshman guard Kevin Porter Jr. played just four minutes after a missing the last two games with a quad contusion.
  • Junior forward Nick Rakocevic tallied a team-high 20 points and 12 rebounds. Rakocevic scored relentlessly on Caroline in the low post in the first half. Coach Eric Musselman switched assignments and put senior transfer Trey Porter on him in the second half. Porter’s length and size bothered Rakocevic down low and kept him in check for the rest of the game.
  • The Pack outrebounded the Trojans 37-33 and held them to 23 percent from three. Nevada has outrebounded their opponents in every game this season.

FINAL THOUGHTS:

The Trojans’ zone defense kept the Wolf Pack’s offense in check for a majority of the first half, but they ultimately clawed their way back and won comfortably. The experienced seniors on this team can’t be talked about enough, they’re getting every team’s best shot and have adjusted as the game goes along. Those adjustments can go a long way come postseason play.

NEXT UP:

Nevada will continue their PAC-12 play when they face Arizona State December 7. The Sun Devils are a perfect 6-0 coming off a dominant 89-71 win over Nebraska Omaha Wednesday, November 28.