Nevada head coach Steve Alford earned his 600th career win in Nevada’s 96-74 win over the New Mexico Lobos (16-6, 5-4) Saturday at Lawlor Events Center. He became the 16th active Division-I coach to accomplish this milestone.
Alford accomplished the milestone against his former school, where he coached from 2007-13. Alford accumulated 155 career wins with the Lobos in that span — his most with any school — winning six Mountain West titles (four regular season titles, two conference championship titles).
Alford is now 600-306 (.662) in 29 seasons as a collegiate head coach.
Alford was hushed about the accomplishment after the game, according to Nevada guard Nisré Zouzoua.
“ [Coach Alford] didn’t bring it up to us at all,” Zouzoua said postgame. “He always puts us first. In the back of our minds, it’s definitely something we wanted to do for him. He has been really humble about it. He hasn’t mentioned it once so we wanted to go out there and give him his 600th win.”
Saturday’s win improves Nevada’s record to 13-8 with a 6-3 conference record. The Pack are in sole possession of third place in the conference standings.
Nevada has won 30 of its 32 conference home games, including 17 straight. The Pack are now 9-3 (.750) at home this season.
Due to a combination of sudden injuries, a dismissal and legal trouble to four starters, New Mexico has struggled mightily recently on the road. The Lobos have lost its last three road games by a combined 76 points (25.3 avg). They are 3-6 (.333) away from the Pit on the year paired with a minus-82 point differential.
Nevada shot 49.3 percent from the floor with 23 assists on the night. Its 17 3-point field goals tied the school record and set a Lawlor Events Center record. Nevada shot 48.6 percent from 3-point range on 35 attempts.
The Wolf Pack capped-off unselfish play in the open floor with thunderous dunks and open shots on the perimeter.
“We’re passing the ball better,” Alford said. “When our ball moves, it gives our guys a chance to cut and get open. This was a homestand where we made a lot of threes and that’s who we are.”
Zouzoua tallied a Nevada career-high 20 points on 6-of-7 shooting from beyond the arc. His six 3-point field goals is a season-high, doubling his previous total of three which occurred four separate occasions.
Five other Pack players reached double digits. Jalen Harris tallied 19 points on 7-of-17 shooting with a team-high seven assists. He has reached double figure scoring marks in 17 consecutive games, averaging 20.2 points per game in that span.
Zane Meeks had 13 points off the bench on 5-of-10 shooting, including 3-of-5 from beyond the arc. Jazz Johnson hit four 3-pointers en route to a 12-point outing. Lindsey Drew and Johncarlos Reyes added 10 points apiece.
Reyes hauled in a season-high 11 rebounds, earning his first double-double on the season. He now has two double-doubles in his collegiate career.
Alford and assistant head coach Craig Neal helped Reyes regain his focus on the floor.
“We were just trying to relax him … I thought he was much more relaxed and we him to be more free and loose and I thought he was that tonight … when we get production out of the center spot like we did this week, it makes us that much better. Both [KJ Hymes] and [Reyes] had really good weeks.”
The Wolf Pack bench outscored New Mexico’s bench 40-11 — tying the season-high for the most points that the Pack bench has produced this season, with the last time coming Dec. 4 versus Santa Clara. The plus-29 margin is the largest margin Nevada has outscored an opponent bench this season.
Nevada imposed its will in the paint. The Pack outrebounded New Mexico 50-26 and 15-4 on the offensive glass, leading to an 11-2 advantage in second-chance points. Nevada’s plus-24 rebounding margin is the largest this season, outdoing its second-best mark by nine rebounds. The Pack also out-scored the Lobos 36-22 in the paint.
New Mexico shot 42.6 percent from the floor and 41.7 percent from deep. Zane Martin led the Lobos with a season-high 23 points on 8-of-19 shooting, hitting season-high three 3-pointers from deep. He added a team-high four assists.
The Lobos totaled only 12 assists as a team which is their 5th-fewest mark this season. Vante Hendrix added 19 points on 6-of-12 shooting.
Back-to-back 3-pointers from Meeks and Drew gave Nevada an early 14-7 lead with 13:24 to go in the first half.
Nevada went on a 15-6 run, capped off by back-to-back threes from Zouzoua to award Pack with a 29-13 advantage, prompting a Lobo timeout. Harris’ layup gave Nevada a 38-21 lead with just over four minutes left in the half.
Back-to-back threes from Martin quickly trimmed the Wolf Pack’s lead to 39-27 with 3:04 left in the half. Nevada closed the final three minutes on a 10-2 run, capped-off by Johnson’s 3-pointer. The Wolf Pack held a 49-29 lead heading into halftime.
Nevada shot 56.3 percent compared to UNM’s 37.9 percent from the floor. Nevada shot 56.3 percent from beyond the arc, its best mark in the first half this season (minimum 15 first half three-point attempts).
Johnson picked up right where he left off in the first half with a 3-pointer, followed by Robby Robinson’s putback dunk and a 3-pointer from Harris to put Nevada ahead 57-32.
Zouzoua’s fifth make from deep gave Nevada a 77-50 advantage with 10:29 remaining. Back-to-back baskets from K.J. Hymes gave Nevada an 82-54 lead, its largest lead on the evening.
UNM battled back, scoring 15 unanswered points which cut Nevada’s lead to 82-67. The Wolf Pack got their advantage back up to 93-71 with 2:01 remaining.
The Lobos have lost three out of its last four games.
The Wolf Pack hit the road to take on Colorado State (14-8, 5-4) on Wednesday on ESPN3. Tip off will be at 6 p.m. PST.
YOU get a three and YOU get a three and EVERYBODY GETS A THREE! Currently shooting nearly 54 percent from three-point land as a team, and we like what we're seeing.#BattleBorn pic.twitter.com/PW1pjIdd4e— Nevada Basketball (@NevadaHoops) January 26, 2020