Lobos Stun Nevada With Dominating Performance.
It was a game that had all the trappings to be historic and it lived up to the buildup, just not the way many people thought. It was New Mexico and Nevada at the Pit, the Wolf Packs first return since the epic comeback almost 2 years to the day. On this afternoon there was no miracle comeback, the Lobos dominated from start to finish.
Nevada took it’s Jekyll and Hyde to a new level. In recent games, let’s forget the Utah State game for a moment, the Wolf Pack would appear to play somewhat lethargically through spurts in the first halves of games and falling behind early. Tonight Nevada was never able to get the run they needed to get back in the game as New Mexico played like a team that wanted the game more.
Facing a newly installed 3-2 zone defense Nevada on offense against New Mexico looked the way they did when they faced Washington’s zone defense in preseason. Hesitant, unsure and just plain confused is how they looked facing New Mexico’s athletic zone defense.
New Mexico dominated in almost every facet of the game. Rebounds 47-37, fastbreak points 27-21, assists 18-11, blocks 6-5. steals 7-3 and on and on it goes. To pour over the numbers in this game is a waste of time because there are bigger storylines to explore.
The first storyline is something Nevada coach Eric Musselman has been telling everyone that would listen, “It’s hard to win every night.” Upsets happen almost every night in college basketball but few are as big as this one.
“We didn’t play hard,” he said after the loss. “We splintered and we came apart. We just had a bad night all around. We had a bad night sharing the ball. We had a bad night defensively. … Just a terrible game for all of us.”
New Mexico was a preseason pick to finish in the top 3 of the conference but a rough OOC start to the season had dampened those expectations. Tonight New Mexico announced they are contenders for the MWC crown.
“It’s just about competing,” said UNM head coach Paul Weir. “That’s all we’ve talked about for two days. Let the Pit be the Pit. Let all that stuff take care of itself. We just need to execute possession by possession. Who the opponent is doesn’t even matter. We just do what we do. Thankfully we were able to do that tonight.”
The more interesting storyline is regarding what this tells us about the Wolf Pack going forward. Were they exposed tonight in a way that could spell trouble for the Pack as the season goes on or was this more an anomaly.
I support the anomaly theory for some very simple reasons. Players don’t become untalented overnight, Nevada still has outstanding talent. Coaches don’t forget how to coach and motivate overnight. Musselman has proven time and again that he knows how to the best out of his players.
One game a season does not make unless that game is in late March or April. With San Jose up next for Nevada it will be a golden opportunity to put this loss behind them and get the ship back on course.