RENO — Jalen Harris is making Nevada Wolf Pack men’s basketball history.
The junior guard scored a career-high 38 points Tuesday night in an 88-54 victory over the Air Force Falcons at Lawlor Events Center. A home crowd of 8,299 also witnessed Harris’ school-record third consecutive game of 30 points or more.
“This is the most comfortable I’ve ever been,” the 6-foot-5 Harris said. “My teammates are instilling confidence in me every day and my coaches are putting me in position to make plays.”
Harris was 12-of-21 from the floor overall and 6-of-8 on threes. He also had six rebounds, four assists and two steals, all in just 36 minutes.
“He’s on a real special roll right now,” said Nevada coach Steve Alford, whose Wolf Pack broke a two-game losing streak to improve to 14-10 overall and 7-5 in the Mountain West. “Hopefully we can continue to ride this groove he’s on.”
Harris scored 17 points in the first half and 21 in the second half. He was coming off a 31-point effort in a 92-91 loss at Colorado State on Jan. 29 and a 30-point performance in a 73-64 loss at Boise State on Saturday.
“He’s shot the ball well,” Alford said. “He’s also done a great job of finishing at the basket, which is something he wasn’t doing a great job of earlier in the year.”
“That’s something I’ve been working on every day,” Harris said.
Harris now has five 30-point games this season, though the first four were all on the road (at Air Force, Utah State, Colorado State, Boise State). He joins Lindsey Drew (30 against Utah on Nov. 5) and Jazz Johnson (34 against Boise State on Jan. 4) as 30-point scorers at Lawlor Events Center this season. Harris also came within just five points of Gabe Parizzia’s Lawlor Events Center record of 43 points against Northern Arizona on Feb. 18, 1989.
“Honestly, he was spectacular,” said Drew of Harris. “We couldn’t ask for more from him. He’s doing everything he can to help us win.”
The Wolf Pack played its second consecutive game without senior guard Jazz Johnson, who is out with a shoulder injury. Alford said Johnson is “questionable” for Saturday’s game at Lawlor Events Center against San Jose State.
“With Jazz out I’m getting a couple more looks, a couple more opportunities,” Harris said. “If that (Johnson out) means I need to take a couple more shots, that’s something I’ll do.”
“It’s been kind of weird out there with Jazz not there,” said Drew, who had eight points, six rebounds, four assists and two steals against Air Force. “But everybody knows they have to step up.”
Nobody in silver and blue is stepping up lately like Harris, who now leads the Mountain West in scoring at 20.7 points a game.
The Wolf Pack has just three home games left this season. After today’s game against San Jose State the Pack will also host Fresno State on Feb. 22 and San Diego State on Feb. 29.
“This (the Air Force game) was our third game in seven days and I was really concerned about it,“ Alford said. “We had a real good night on offense and we did just about everything we wanted to do defensively. Jalen had one of those special nights and he is playing at a real high level. But this was also a real good team win. I really liked what all the guys did.”