Grades: Nevada loses opportunity – and game – at Oregon

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Grading the Nevada Wolf Pack’s 78-65 men’s basketball loss to the Oregon Ducks on Saturday in Eugene, Ore.



The Wolf Pack needed Lucas to heat up in the worst way on Saturday and, for a brief moment or two, it looked like it just might happen. Over five minutes early in the second half the 6-3 shooting guard nailed a pair of 3-pointers, was fouled on another three a minute later and promptly drained three free throws to cut Oregon’s lead to 51-42 with 12:29 to play. It was shaping up to be the type of return to the state of Oregon that Lucas, who played the last three seasons at Oregon State, dreamed of. But those five minutes were wiped out by his other 31 minutes against the Ducks. Lucas, who scored 22 points against Oregon in his final game for Oregon State last March in the Pac-12 tournament, scored just seven points in those other 31 minutes to finish with 16. He missed his last three 3-pointers over the final 11:30. Those three free throws were his only trip to the line. Lucas missed five of his first six shots as the Pack dug itself a deep hole to start the game. The Ducks obviously knew all about Lucas. After Oregon’s Rivaldo Soares fouled Lucas on a 3-point attempt with 12:29 left in the game the Ducks only allowed the Pack shooter to get off one 3-point shot (he missed) over the next eight-plus minutes.


The Pack point guard turned in an inconsistent 36 minutes, despite scoring a team-high 20 points to along with five rebounds and three steals. Blackshear never truly found his rhythm other than a few promising spurts. Blackshear missed nine of his 14 shots from the floor overall and scored half his points (10-of-10) from the free throw line. All 10 free throws, though, came when the Pack trailed by 13-plus points. He made his first and last shots of the game and in between was 3-of-12, never making as many as two in a row. Blackshear also had a season-low two assists, finishing third on the team. His best flurry was over a span of just under three minutes midway through the first half when he had a rebound, steal and assist, two free throws and a jumper in the paint for four points. But all that did was cut Oregon’s lead to 28-13. Blackshear’s five turnovers are the second most he’s had this year. The 6-6 senior now has 13 turnovers and nine assists over the last three games combined. The lack of consistent scoring options other than Lucas has forced Blackshear to take on more of the scoring load lately. His 14 shots led the team against Oregon, giving him an average of 13.7 shots over the last three games as the Pack has gone 1-2. He put up eight shots a game over the first eight games when the Pack went 7-1.


Baker had a three-game road trip he’d like to forget. The 6-11 center scored all five of his points on Saturday in the final two minutes of the game, long after Oregon had already started celebrating. Over his first 21 minutes he didn’t score at all and was 0-of-5 from the floor. Over the last three games, all on the road at Loyola Marymount, Pepperdine and Oregon, Baker scored just 16 points with 11 rebounds and had just one assist and a steal, missed all four of his 3-pointers and didn’t block a shot. Over his first seven games he was the third scoring option (behind Blackshear, Lucas) the Pack so desperately needs, averaging 13.3 points a game. The 7-foot Baker did have six rebounds, two on the offensive glass.


Coleman, like Blackshear and Lucas, rarely left the floor on Saturday, playing 35 minutes. Coleman gets big minutes mainly because of his defense, though it didn’t really show up on the stat sheet against Oregon. He didn’t have a steal and Oregon shot 46 percent from the floor and 41 percent on threes. Coleman did score seven points on 3-of-6 shooting with three rebounds and two assists. His biggest shot was a 3-pointer with 20 seconds to play before halftime to cut Oregon’s lead to 36-29. Coleman’s only bucket during his 18 second-half minutes was a dunk with 2:40 to go that pulled the Pack to within 17. His biggest contribution on offense in the second half came on assists that led to a Trey Pettigrew 3-pointer and a Kenan Blackshear layup.


The 6-6 Williams went on the road this past week for three games and didn’t pack his 3-point shot or ability to get to the free throw line. Williams missed all five of his 3-pointers at Oregon and didn’t get to the line at all, finishing with six points in 30 minutes. Williams went 1-of-11 on threes and didn’t attempt even one free throw, scoring just 13 points, on the three-game trip. He was also just 6-of-27 from the floor (3-of-11 on Saturday). Over his first eight games, heading into last Saturday’s game at Loyola Marymount to open the road trip, he was 10-of-21 on threes, 23-of-44 from the floor overall, 11-of-13 from the line and scored 67 points. The freshman’s minutes have increased dramatically over the last five games (to 32.6 a game compared to 22.7 over the first six games) but his offense has dropped just as dramatically. Williams averaged 9.2 points over the first six games and has dropped to 5.6 over the last five games despite a huge increase in playing time. The versatile Williams, though, did find ways to contribute at Oregon with six rebounds and five assists and now leads the Pack in rebounding and is second in assists. In the final two minutes of the first half he had a pair of short jumpers and assisted on a Tre Coleman 3-pointer as the Pack cut the deficit to just 36-29. In the first five minutes of the second half he assisted on a Kenan Blackshear layup and had a dunk off a feed from Nick Davidson as the Pack trailed just 47-36 with 15 minutes to play. Williams, though, then missed a 3-pointer with 14:31 to play and was put on the bench a minute later for nearly seven straight minutes.



The 6-8 freshman played 19 minutes and had five points, four rebounds and his first three assists of the season. Davidson, though, did almost nothing in eight first-half minutes with just a rebound and a foul. The Pack, however, actually outscored Oregon 23-20 during Davidson’s 11 minutes in the second half. He assisted on a Williams dunk and a Lucas 3-pointer just 1:16 apart as the Pack trailed just 49-39 with 13:46 to play.


The 6-3 freshman played his fewest minutes (nine) since the first game of the year. Coming off a seven-point, five-rebound performance in 15 minutes at Pepperdine four nights earlier, Pettigrew missed 5-of-6 shots and scored just three points with two rebounds and nothing else against Oregon. Most of Pettigrew’s production (three points and a rebound) came in a 32-second burst when he had an offensive rebound, fed Coleman for a possible 3-pointer (he missed) and then drained a 3-pointer himself (off a pass from Coleman) to slice Oregon’s lead to just 55-45 with 11 minutes to go.


Powell, a 6-5 transfer from Seton Hall, played three more minutes than Pettigrew and was slightly less productive with three points and no rebounds. Powell, too, was coming off a solid performance (10 points, six rebounds in 12 minutes) at Pepperdine but did little to bail out the sluggish starters on Saturday. His 3-pointer, off a Blackshear pass, cut Oregon’s lead to 21-11 with 9:22 left in the first half.


Not much Steve Alford tried on Saturday seemed to make a dent in Oregon’s fun. Oregon went on a 9-0 run to take a quick 9-2 lead and, well, the Pack never really recovered. The Pack, playing its third road game over eight days, seemed to lack energy, urgency and fire from start to finish. You can blame that on the goofy and confusing (where is the 3-point line or the lane?) tree-filled court at Oregon’s Matthew Knight Arena. But the Pack seemed content to take a loss and go home. Part of that has to fall on Alford’s shoulders. Alford and the Pack, it seemed, simply sat back and waited for a run that never came instead of taking matters into their own hands. The Pack never turned up the defensive heat and pressure as Oregon found its groove early and stayed there the whole game.


The Wolf Pack let a great opportunity get away. Oregon was just 4-5 going into the game and seemed like a great opportunity for the Pack to steal an important victory on the road. But, in reality, Oregon was locked and loaded and waiting in the fake trees on the court for a Pack team that didn’t appear to be mentally ready to compete. The Ducks, obviously more desperate than the Pack for a victory, simply did what it wanted to do when it wanted to do it. This wasn’t nearly as close as the final score might suggest. Oregon took a 7-2 lead three minutes after tip-off and the Pack never had a possession the rest of the game when it could even force a tie. The Pack seemed to disappear in the trees on the court as Oregon out-hustled them all game long with more second-chance points (15-5), fast-break points (12-4), blocks (11-0) and rebounds (44-36). This thin Pack team (just eight play) right now, despite its 8-3 record, isn’t good enough to play at three-quarters speed and expect to beat anybody, let alone a well-coached Oregon team that was playing with energy, purpose and a sense of urgency at home.


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