Nevada takes care of business, moves to 4-0
Nevada finished up it’s 4 game season opening home stand with a crown pleasing rout of California Baptist, 90-55. Cal Baptist in its first year at D1 came into Reno sporting a 2-1 record with a win over Oral Roberts and a 3 point loss to Tulsa. The AP 6th ranked Wolf Pack from Nevada would prove to be a more difficult opponent.
Nevada started out the game slowly, something that has become an annoying habit for Nevada fans. It did not take long however before Nevada’s size, skill, depth and athleticism to put the Wolf Pack comfortably ahead. It was Trey Porter scoring and rebounding in the early going as Nevada went inside with frequency.
With Nevada aggressively going to the hole the Lancers from Cal Baptist had difficulty staying in front of players often ending with fouls. Nevada took 24 first half free throws versus 3 for the Lancers.
The Wolf Pack closed out the first half on an 8-0 run to go into the locker room up by 18. The outcome of the game was never in doubt over the course of the second half as Coach Musselman was able to give game time minutes to the bench in an effort to get everyone comfortable playing with each other.
Going 9 deep it was Jazz Johnson that logged the most minutes with 28 while Caleb and Cody Martin only played a combined 45 minutes.
It is almost an embarrassment of riches for Coach Muss this year. Six different players scored in double figures and Jordan Caroline had his 3rd double double of the year with 10 points and 10 rebounds. Trey Porter barely missed his first double double with the Wolf Pack, ending with 14 points and 9 rebounds.
Teams will have trouble stopping Nevada from scoring this year, we knew it before the season began. What we didn’t know, was how Nevada was going to be on the defensive side of the ball.
Through 4 games Kenpom has Nevada 14th in the nation in adjusted defensive efficiency. Against the Lancers, Nevada had a season high 9 steals to go along with 4 blocks and held them to 31% shooting from the floor and 24% from beyond the arc.
Nevada fans got a chance to see Jordan Browns finesse moves in the second half as Brown continues to look more and more comfortable with the speed of the college game. Brown finished with a game high 16 points and 5 rebounds coming off the bench. Brown and Johnson coming off the bench and providing productive minutes is becoming the norm and could bode poorly for upcoming opponents.
Four games into the season and one begins to get a feel, a sense about a teams identity. This Nevada squad is developing it’s identity more on the defensive side of the ball than the offensive.
Sure, they are fun to watch offensively, the Caleb step back 3 or the lob to Porter, but if Nevada is playing in April it will be because of their defense. After four games the Wolf Pack is in the top 25 in the country at 3 point FG defense, holding opponents 24% from deep.
Next up for Nevada is Tulsa in Las Vegas as part of the Continental Tire Las Vegas Holiday Invitational on Thanksgiving. It will be a new test for Nevada as they will be leaving the comfort of playing at home for the first time this year. It will also be the first time they play back to back games as they play Friday against either UMass or Southern Illinois.