Nevada Remains Unbeaten, Finishes OOC Play 13-0
Nevada’s final out of conference game against Utah followed several recent trends through the first half of play. Poor shooting, getting outrebounded and getting their opponents in foul trouble. At the half, the Wolf Pack was clinging to a slim one-point lead, 38-37 despite shooting only 38% from the field behind 5-15 from distance.
The Utah Utes also outrebounded Nevada in the first half 21-16, with 5 of them coming on the offensive end.
The first half was the Sedrick Barefield show for Utes fans, dropping 19 points with his only miss being a free throw. The Utah bench had 27 of the Utes 37 first half points. The halftime talk in the Utah locker room no doubt included a warning that Nevada is a second half team and to be prepared.
Barefield cooled off somewhat in the second half and ended up with 33 points on 6-10 shooting from behind the arc. Despite the offensive explosion of Barefield who came into the game averaging less than 14 points a game, the Utes would not be able to overcome their turnover problem.
The second half started like, well like the typical Nevada second half. Utah turned the ball over 3 times before taking a shot on goal and Caleb Martin was once again in attack mode, drilling a couple from beyond the arc and also taking it to the rack, scoring Nevada’s first 9 points of the second half. The tone for the second half had been set, Nevada was on a mission to extend their slim halftime lead and get seperation.
Although the Utah bench continued to score most of their points in the second half their propensity for turnovers along with hot shooting from Nevada would lead to an easy Wolf Pack win. Caleb led the way for Nevada, scoring a career high 33 points to go along with a team high 7 assists, 4 steals and 2 blocks. Those are gaudy All-American type numbers, but to stop at the numbers would be a huge disservice to Caleb.
In the second half Nevada usually gets their opponents into foul trouble but the table was flipped this game. Trey Porter had his athleticism on display again, but also continued to foul at a high rate and fouled out with just under 10 minutes to play. Cody Martin picked up his 3rd foul and a 4th by way of a technical at the 14 minute mark. Caleb then moved to the point guard position where he played most of the rest of the game.
Caleb had yet another chase-down block and in many ways that singular play defines Nevada basketball in 2018-19. Jordan Caroline contributed 17 points along with 12 rebounds. Looking behind those rebounds we see 7 of them offensive rebounds with several coming off his throw it up and I will get the rebound move that he resurrected this year. Nevada simply does not give up on plays, on either end of the court. Their team mentality is to win every play, every possesion and to never give up.
All in all it may have been Nevada’s best performance as a team, especially in the second half. Nevada took the air out of the ball at the 6 minute mark as is customary under Eric Musselman when Nevada has a double digit lead. Nevada had a 14 point lead when they put the ball in Caleb’s hands and said “run the clock down, we will set a ball screen for you, go create.” Caleb was able to get to the rack on a couple occasions after burning a significant portion of the time clock, and it seemed when he didn’t he got fouled. Nevada won by 15.
Utah State is up next for Nevada as it heads into conference play with an unblemished 13-0 record for the first time in the schools history. Lawlor will most certainly be rocking January 2nd as the surprising Aggies will bring a 10-3 OOC record to Reno.