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Johnson’s career night leads to 83-66 victory over Boise State

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The Pack extend their win streak over the Broncos to eight games, improving to 10-5 on the season and 3-0 in MWC play.

Nick Aberle-Nevada Athletics Department

Jazz Johnson’s career performance propelled the Nevada Wolf Pack over the Boise State Broncos (10-6, 2-2) in a 83-66 win on Saturday at Lawlor Events Center.

Johnson tallied 34 points on 8-for-12 shooting from three-point range with seven rebounds, all career-highs. His previous career-high of 27 points came March 5 of last season against Air Force.

“I guess you could say this was my best game,” Johnson said post-game. “In high school I scored 44 points against Ben Simmons’ team (Montverde Academy) … that night was still in my mind pretty good, but we got blasted. This game tops it because we got a win on top of it.”

The 5-foot-10 sharpshooter entered Saturday second in the conference in total three-point makes with 43, trailing only Justinian Jessup (46) of Boise State — who was on the opposing bench.

Johnson’s 34 points and eight threes are both conference-highs. On the year, Johnson is averaging 17.5 points per game and shooting a career-best 45.5 percent from three.

“[Johnson] did a great job coming off the Colorado State game,” head coach Steve Alford said. “He got on-balance shots. He was great with his fakes. He drove and scored. He shot spot-ups and scored … I just thought he did a really good job.”

Saturday’s win extends the Wolf Pack’s win streak over Boise State to eight games. Nevada improves to a 10-5 record with a 3-0 conference record on the season. The Wolf Pack have now won its first three conference games in two of the last three seasons.

“I couldn’t be happier through 15 games,” Alford said. “This team is growing and they’re doing a lot of good things.”

The Wolf Pack shot 55.9 percent from the floor. Jalen Harris and Lindsey Drew were the only other Pack players to reach double digits. Harris tallied 15 points on 6-of-14 shooting. Drew added 14 points with a team-high nine assists.

Nevada shot 48.3 percent from three-point territory on 29 attempts. The Pack became the second team against the lengthy Bronco defense to make more than 37 percent of its threes.

Leading 39-35 at halftime, the Wolf Pack offense exploded for 44 second-half points to Boise State’s 31 points. Nevada held Boise State to 30.8 percent shooting in the half and 36.2 percent in the game.

“The second half, we were really good offensively and defensively,” Alford said. “Boise is an outstanding three-point shooting team ... They were 3-for-4 in the first four minutes and finished 2-for-22 from there, and that says a lot about how our guys defended.”

Derrick Alston Jr. -- the conference’s leading scorer heading into Saturday -- led all Bronco scorers with 15 points on 6-of-13 shooting. Jessup added 12 points on 4-of-12 shooting. Abu Kigab finished with 10 points on 3-of-14 shooting.

Nevada handled the Broncos’ size well down low, finishing plus-10 on the glass and outscored the Broncos in 28-26 in the paint.

Back-to-back baskets from Jessup put the Broncos ahead 19-11 with 10:37 left in the first half. 13 consecutive points from Johnson fueled a 16-6 run which put Nevada ahead 27-25 with 5:35 remaining, prompting a Bronco timeout.

Harris’ thunderous dunk with 34 seconds remaining in the first half gave Nevada a 39-35 lead heading into halftime. Nevada shot 53.6 percent from the floor and 47.1 percent from deep in the first half.

Boise State mixed in a 2-3 zone to start the second half which wasn’t effective. The Wolf Pack netted five of its first six shots, including its first three shots from beyond the arc.

A flagrant foul from Kigab gave Nevada a 55-47 lead with 14:19 remaining in the contest. The Pack extended its lead to 62-50 after a jumper from Drew.

Nevada didn’t look back for the rest of the game.

Johnson eclipsed the 30-point total for the first time in his collegiate career on a floater, extending Nevada’s lead to 71-54 with 6:29 remaining. Johnson nailed a three-pointer on the next possession to give the Pack a 20-point lead, their largest lead on the evening.

The Wolf Pack hit the road for a two-game conference slate, starting out with the San Jose State Spartans (5-11, 1-3) on Wednesday, Jan. 8. Tip off will be at 7 p.m. PST.

Nevada starts 3-0 in conference play for the second time in three seasons.