RENO — The Nevada Wolf Pack might have found itself a new point guard.
Marcus Marshall, who started at shooting guard in the season’s first two games, saw extensive minutes at the point in the Pack’s 83-58 victory over the Oregon State Beavers on Friday night.
“Marcus is one of those unique players who doesn’t turn the ball over,” Pack coach Eric Musselman said. “He just has a knack for taking care of the rock.”
The 6-foot-3 Marshall was pressed into duty at point guard on Friday because starter Lindsey Drew picked up two quick fouls in the game’s first four minutes. Drew ended up playing just four minutes in the first half and just 14 for the game and finished with just two points and two assists.
Marshall played 35 minutes and scored 11 points with a game-high nine assists.
Backup point guard Devearl Ramsey also didn’t see the floor because of a groin injury. Ramsey had played 32 minutes over the first two games.
“Devearl felt he could have played but I told him before the game that we weren’t going to use him unless we really needed him,” Musselman said. “So we just slid Marcus over.”
CAROLINE BRINGS ENERGY: Sophomore power forward Jordan Caroline had his best game as a member of the Wolf Pack on Friday, scoring 12 points and pulling down 12 rebounds with four assists and three steals in 28 minutes.
“He gives us an identity of how we play,” said Musselman of the muscular 6-foot-7 Caroline. “He brings energy, effort and enthusiasm. If you play against Jordan Caroline, it is physical and there’s non-stop energy coming at you.”
Caroline, a sophomore playing in his first Wolf Pack season after transferring from Southern Illinois two seasons ago, also had a game-high six offensive rebounds. Musselman was most pleased with Caroline’s defensive work on Oregon State forward Tres Tinkle. Tinkle, who was averaging 18.3 points a game in the Beavers first three games, scored 16 against the Wolf Pack.
“Jordan did an unbelievable job on him, holding him at bay,” Musselman said.
“I’m a high energy guy,” Caroline said.
Caroline was asked if he brings a football mentality to the court. Caroline’s father is former NFL defensive end Simeon Rice and his grandfather, J.C. Caroline, played defensive back for the Chicago Bears in the 1950s and 60s.
“I don’t know about football,” smiled Caroline. “I just try to be as competitive as I can.”
HOME SWEET HOME: The Wolf Pack is now 18-3 at Lawlor Events Center with Musselman as coach.
“Now it just feels like we have a real home court advantage,” senior guard D.J. Fenner said. “We know we just can’t lose at home. That’s one of our main goals, to just not lose at home.”
The Wolf Pack has never lost in the brief Musselman era at home in either November or December, running its record to 7-0 at home in those two months.
“If you want to be a good college basketball team winning at home is real important,” Musselman said. “Our crowds (8,090 on Friday night), we just can’t thank them enough. They give us energy and our guys feel that.”
The Wolf Pack is 2-0 at home this year after starting 6-0 at Lawlor last year. Nevada has also won seven straight home games dating back to last year when it won five in a row at home in the College Basketball Invitational.
EARLY STATEMENT VICTORY: Musselman admitted beating Oregon State, a Pac-12 team, does make a positive statement for the Wolf Pack.
“I think it is important,” Musselman said.
“A lot of people were looking at this game to see how we would play.”
The Wolf Pack is now 37-86 against teams currently in the Pac-12. The Pack’s last victory over a Pac-12 team before Friday was 76-73 win at Washington on Dec. 8, 2012.
“Now we will see how we’ve matured and how we understand how we have to come back and play a good Iona team (at Lawlor on Sunday at 5 p.m.) in two days,” Musselman said.
HALL AND KING SEE PLAYING TIME: Pack newcomers Josh Hall and Leland King played a combined nine minutes in the first two games of the season. Against Oregon State, Hall played 12 minutes and had three points and two rebounds and King played 16 minutes and scored six points with three rebounds.
“Leland did a good job of scoring the ball in his minutes,” Musselman said. “I think he needed that from a confidence standpoint. Both of them played real well. Josh did a nice job of defending Tinkle.
“You know, for us, it‘s a great thing having firepower on our bench.”