With what started as a Nevada Wolf Pack lead 15 seconds of the game could not have ended up more on the opposite end of the spectrum in Wednesday evening’s historic First-Four competition in Dayton, Ohio.
Courtesy of outpouring 53 first-half points, the most they had a single game this season, the Arizona State Sun Devils dominated Nevada, 98-73, in their most complete performance of the 2022-23 season.
The Sun Devils — who ranked No. 308 (out of 363 teams) in effective field goal percentage, No. 315 in 3-point percentage (31.4 percent) and No. 274 in 2-point percentage (47.9 percent) heading into Wednesday — shot 67.7 percent in the first-half, including 8-of-14 (57.1 percent) from 3-point range.
They finished shooting 63.6 percent — 70.6 percent inside-the-arc (24-34) and 52.4 percent from distance — with only five turnovers and 21 assists on 35 baskets.
Arizona State’s 98 points marked the most points scored in First-Four history and the most in an NCAA Tournament game since Gonzaga tallied 98 in 2021 against Norfolk State. The 98 points allowed was the most Nevada’s allowed in a game this season and the most since it surrendered 102 in a 27-point loss to South Dakota State on Nov. 22, 2021.
D.J. Horne had a game-high 20 points on 7-of-10 shooting with four triples; Desmond Cambridge Jr. and Warren Washington, two former Pack players had 17 and nine points, respectively, while Devan Cambridge had 15.
Will Baker led Nevada with 17 points and six rebounds on 6-of-10 shooting while Tre Coleman added 14 points on 11 shots. Darrion Williams was its only other double figure scorer with 12 points on 4-of-4 shooting from distance.
After trailing by 27 at halftime, Nevada never cut the Sun Devil advantage below 18 points. It shot 48.1 percent and mirrored ASU from distance (11-of-21), but pieced together eight field goals (on 24 attempts) with eight turnovers in the first half.
It was a very uncharacteristic, bitter end to the 2022-23 season for Nevada, who conclude losers of four straight after winning 22 of its first 29 games. Every Pack player is eligible to return next year.
Wednesday evening’s was a brutal showing for the conference, who placed four teams into the tournament for the second year in a row. The Mountain West has now lost 10 straight NCAA Tournament games and are 0-9 since 2019; it’s last win was from Nevada after its amazing 22-point second-half comeback against Cincinnati in the round of 32.
The ball’s now in your court, San Diego State, Boise State and Utah State.
This is a developing story. Stay tuned for updates.