In what was supposed to be a closer match by the numbers, it just wasn’t.
Nevada (14-3, 4-0 MW) showed its domination in all facets over San Jose State (11-6, 2-2 MW) in a 67-40 blowout win for the Wolf Pack.
In what was the Spartans’ lowest point total of the season, Spartan head coach Tim Miles summed up the 27-point loss.
“Nevada was just more aggressive and more connected - it was evident when you look at our turnovers, loose balls and rebounding.”
As it often goes in such dreaded blowouts, the Wolf Pack put on a clinic in all phases of the game with a dominating defense that clamped down on the Spartans only true scorer, Omari Moore.
“Nevada committed two to the ball, where numerous times we had a roll going wide open to the rim and we couldn’t get the ball to Omari, because Nevada’s defensive length and pressure was good.”
Considering preseason polls had Nevada finishing ninth (and San Jose 10th), the Wolf Pack have completely flipped that script on the pundits in what is now the Pack’s sixth straight win.
“They lose Grant Sherfield from last season, but it’s clear they still have a lot of talent and they’re a solid, connected team,” added Miles.
The Spartans, like everyone else, realize conference play is closer to parity than it’s ever been with nine of 11 teams with winning records and five of those teams with 10 or more wins, but here, SJS lost ground.
“We never met that threshold that Nevada set,” said Miles. “The aggressor wins and we didn’t rise to the level needed.”
With Miles making it crystal clear the Spartans were lacking in aggressiveness, he’s also making it clear he and his staff have some control over expectations to succeed.
In each of the first few minutes of each half, the Spartans did well, but could not sustain or respond after the Wolf Pack found their footing and started to clamp down.
The first 10 minutes of the first half saw San Jose State break out to a 13-4 lead with a strong inside game that forced three early Nevada fouls and the Spartans hitting some shots. Two three-pointers early on by Trey Anderson and one by Garrett Anderson led the way.
But after Moore’s driving layup for his only two points of the half, the Spartans were completely shutdown going scoreless for over 10 minutes, while Nevada romped on a 25-0 run to close out the half.
Utter domination to a 32-15 first-half lead.
Then on cue to start the second half, the Spartans came out fast with Moore attacking the rim, scoring fast (10 points) and blocking Nevada’s superstar guard Kenan Blackshear’s shot at the rim.
But that was it; besides Garrett Anderson’s seven points.
With Fresno coming into town Tuesday night, it doesn’t get any easier.
We’ll be able to see how and where Miles can force apply the mentality and sustained aggression needed across the roster, and the adjustments needed to counter the peaks and valleys in what will be tough sledding the rest of the way.
In terms of being connected as a team, as Miles references Nevada having in spades, we’ll have to wait and see on that as well.