The 12th-ranked Nevada Wolf Pack haven’t finished the regular season unscathed to say the least, and the Utah State Aggies got another piece of them in a 81-76 loss at the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum Saturday night. Nevada’s late-game execution cost them and puts the Aggies in sole possession of first place in conference play with a 14-3 record and have potentially earned its place for the NCAA Tournament.
Nevada falls to 13-3 with just two games remaining.
- The Wolf Pack shot 36 percent from the field and 26 percent from three (6-23). Three players scored in double-figures and Nevada recorded eight assists to 11 turnovers.
- Tre’Shawn “Big Game” Thurman: Since his benching after the SDSU loss, Tre’Shawn Thurman has led the team in at least two statistical categories in it last three games. This time around, the senior forward poured in 21 on 8-11 shooting points to go along with a team-high nine rebounds and three steals. Thurman was the driving force for the Pack and his all-around performance stole the show on the Nevada side of things.
- Martin Twins Battle Back: Cody and Caleb Martin both scored in double-figures. Cody tallied 16 points and seven rebounds. Caleb scored a game-high 23 points on 6-19 shooting. The Aggies played him tight on the perimeter and forced him to the left, but Cody’s three-pointer cut the Pack’s deficit to a one possession game with under a minute left.
- Aggies Bottle Up Jordan Caroline: Jordan Caroline failed to reach double-figures for the second time this season, finishing with just seven points on 3-15 shooting, he still surpassed 2,000 for his career. Utah State made it hard for Caroline inside and made sure he didn’t crash the offensive glass with multiple bodies in the paint. He fouled out of the game via a charge to potentially bring Nevada’s deficit to a one possession game once again.
- Foul Outs: Seven players in total fouled out of the game. Cody Martin, Caroline, Jazz Johnson and Thurman all fouled out for Nevada. Quinn Taylor, Neemias Queta and Abel Porter fouled out for Utah State. The game was heavily officiated and the players paid the price in the end.
- The Aggies shot 47 percent from the field and 29 percent from three-point range (5-17). Three players scored in double-figures, including Sam Merrill with a game-high 29 points. Diogo Brito added 15 points off the bench.
- Free Throw Game: The Pack cut its deficit down to two points courtesy of a 10-1 run, but the Aggies’ physical play inside and down the stretch helped them win the battle from the line. Utah State went 28-37 (75.2%) compared to Nevada’s 22-34 (64.7) from the line.
This game was expected to be close, and credit the Aggies for its execution down the stretch. Despite a late Nevada comeback, Utah State kept its composure and made plays by making it count from the line and playing Caleb Martin and Caroline tight. Nevada may take a slight dip in the rankings. They still have a chance to tie the Aggies with two games remaining, but they must break out of tough offensive stretches on the road. Fast.
Nevada stays on the road to face the Air Force Falcons Tuesday, March 5 at the Cadet Field House. The Falcons are 13-15 overall and 8-8 in conference play this season.