Nevada found its offensive groove in a 91-73 victory over Texas Southern on Wednesday at Lawlor Events Center.
Coming off its worst overall performance of the season, Nevada needed a big bounce-back boost on the offensive end. That didn’t come early, as the Pack missed 17 of its first 23 shots, including six of its first seven 3-point attempts. But Nevada rallied down the stretch, netting 21 of its final 34 shots en route to a dominant win.
“We were coming off our worst shooting night at BYU,” Nevada head coach Steve Alford said post-game. “We got back to shooting the ball better tonight.”
Nevada’s win advances the Pack to 8-4 overall and 4-2 at home this season.
The Wolf Pack shot 47.4 percent from the field and 34.8 percent from beyond the arc. Five players reached double figures. Lindsey Drew and Jalen Harris had 18 points apiece. Drew shot 7-of-10 from the floor and 3-of-5 from deep.
He notched his second double-double of the season with a team-high ten rebounds. The 6-foot-4 senior guard added four assists and two steals.
“I think Drew is our best rebounder,” Alford said. “He does a tremendous job rebounding the ball. He ran the show very well. He shot the ball very well. He made big baskets when we had to have them. I thought he had a really solid game.”
Harris shot 4-of-11 from the field and 10-of-10 from the free-throw line. Jazz Johnson tallied 12 points on 1-of-4 shooting from beyond the arc. His 39 three-pointers, which ranks atop the Mountain West, is T-6 in the nation.
Nevada canned a season-high 29 free throws on 31 attempts. Alford was really impressed with Nevada’s aggressive attack and ability to get to the stripe.
“I really like how we got to the free throw line,” he said. “Any time you get 29 points from the free throw line, that’s a good thing.
“That’s going to be a key for us. Can we get to the free throw line a little more? It’s going to be a key because it takes the pressure off us.”
Texas Southern out-rebounded the Pack 16-7 on the offensive glass, leading to 15 second chance points from the Tigers.
Texas Southern put together it’s worst shooting performance since the season-opener versus Mountain West foe San Diego State. The Tigers canned 29.7 percent of its shots, including a season-low 16.0 percent from deep.
A three-point basket by former Nevada walk-on John Jones gave Texas Southern a 16-10 lead with 10:02 left in the first half.
Drew’s three-pointer extended the Pack’s lead to 22-20 with 7:15 left in the first half. It marked Nevada’s first three-point make on its seventh attempt.
Harris’ mid-range jumper extended Nevada’s lead to 36-29 with 2:13 left. Texas Southern cut it to 38-35 with 11 seconds remaining, but a three-point basket from Johnson gave the Pack a 41-35 lead heading into halftime.
Nevada held its ground defensively, holding the Tigers to 25.6 percent shooting and 1-of-9 on shots beyond the arc in the first half.
Nevada exploded for a 11-0 run to begin the first three minutes, 33 seconds of the second half, expanding its lead to 52-35.
The Wolf Pack kept a double-digit lead for a majority of the second half. A layup from Harris extended Nevada’s lead to 21 points — its largest lead of the night — with 4: 17 left in the second half. The Tigers were unable to cut the lead to below 14 points in the remainder of the contest.
It was a bitter loss for Texas Southern’s Johnny Jones — a Nevada assistant in the 2017-18 season — in his first return to Reno. Former Nevada assistants Brandon Chambers and Derek Saich are on Jones’ staff.
The Wolf Pack hit the road to San Francisco to take on St. Mary’s in the Basketball Hall of Fame 2019 Air Force Reserve Al Attles Classic. Tip off will be at 9:30 p.m. PDT on ESPNU.
Alford is prepared for a challenge on the road against the Gaels.
“We have a very tough game Saturday,” Alford said. “St. Mary’s is probably the best team we play to date.”