Nevada men's basketball is officially back. The Wolf Pack have their sites on another NCAA Tournament bid, and it started on the right track Tuesday night. Nevada defeated Sacramento State 77-63 at Lawlor Events Center, starting its season 1-0.
The Wolf Pack won 22 games last season, and that winning culture is as strong as ever. Both sides of the ball played well against the Hornets, and some of Nevada’s stars continued to put on a show.
Sac State 30 - Nevada 39
Sac State 33 - Nevada 38
Final: Nevada 77, Sac State 63
Bat Night at Lawlor?
Before actually getting into the game, I wanted to share what happened at Lawlor tonight. In the second half, the game had to temporarily stop because there was a bat in the arena. Yes, an actual bat made its way in. That’s Reno for you, folks.
We've entered a bat delay at Lawlor! pic.twitter.com/qR8RQbT748— Nevada Sports Net (@NevadaSportsNet) November 8, 2023
What Went Right
Nevada’s backcourt was strong throughout the game. Guards Kenan Blackshear, Jarod Lucas, and Hunter McIntosh combined for 44 points on the night. Lucas led the team in points with 18, while also picking up four rebounds, four assists, and a steal.
Lucas, Blackshear (14) Mclntosh (12), and Nick Davidson (10) all scored double digits for Nevada.
As a team, Nevada picked up eight steals compared to Sac State’s two. Nevada also dominated the free throw department, shooting 21-27 as a team. Lucas went 9-9, with Blackshear (2-2) Davidson (4-4) Tré Colman (2-2), and Tyler Rolison (2-2) being perfect from the free throw line as well.
Nevada’s defense also played well. The Wolf Pack limited the Hornets to 37.1% shooting from the field. Sac State gave up 13 turnovers in the loss, with only two players (F Duncan Powell & Zee Hamoda) scoring over double digits.
What Went Wrong
Nevada was able to control the free throw game. The three-point shot was a different story and a bit off-putting for this offense. Nevada went 4-15 at the three-point line, with Mclntosh making two of them. Lucas went 1-6, and freshman center Jazz Gardner picked up the only other three of the game.
The Wolf Pack gave the Hornets too much room to play in the second half as well. Up 61-44 with 9:42 to play, the Hornets went on a 12-0 run to trim the deficit to five points with seven minutes remaining.
Nevada had a 67-61 lead with four minutes to play. Luckily, Nevada closed out the final minutes with a 10-2 run to end the game.
For a Hornets team that has 11 new players on this year’s 15-man roster, almost letting a big lead slip isn’t ideal. Nevada was able to clutch up when it mattered, but second-half performances are something to keep an eye on.
Nevada’s next game will come on the road on Sunday, Nov. 12 against Washington. The Huskies are coming off a 91-57 win over Bellarmine and will play Northern Kentucky on Nov. 8 before facing Nevada.