Grades: Pack remains perfect at home with win over Fresno State

Nevada’s Darrion Williams is guarded by Fresno State’s Anthony Holland during their game Feb. 10, 2023 in Reno.

Nevada’s Darrion Williams is guarded by Fresno State’s Anthony Holland during their game Feb. 10, 2023 in Reno.
Nevada Athletics

  • Discuss Comment, Blog about
  • Print Friendly and PDF

Grading the Nevada Wolf Pack’s 77-66 men’s basketball victory over the Fresno State Bulldogs on Friday at Lawlor Events Center:



Jarod Lucas simply had a well-earned rest on Friday. The 6-foot-3 shooting guard, who had scored 73 points over the Pack’s previous three games, took on a secondary role against Fresno State. Lucas, his jump shot betraying him, scored 13 points on 3-of-10 shooting in 30 lackluster minutes (one assist, three turnovers, two rebounds). Nearly half of Lucas’ points (six) came in the final two minutes of the game with the Pack up by six-plus points. Lucas’ two 3-point attempts (he made one) are his fewest of the year.

You know there’s room for concern when he tosses up just two threes. This is the first game this season when at least three Pack starters outscored Lucas, who has led the team in scoring 14 times. Lucas’ 13 points are his fewest since he had 11 (also on 3-of-10 shooting) on Jan. 10 against San Diego State. Lucas’ lone 3-pointer with 66 seconds to go in the first half gave the Pack a 31-26 lead. He started the game by going 1-of-4 from the floor and was sent to the bench for six-plus minutes. He then started the second half 1-of-4 and was sent to the bench for four-plus minutes.


There is not a more valuable player in the Mountain West this season than Kenan Blackshear. The 6-6 point guard left his fingerprints on nearly half (38-of-77) of the Pack points. He scored 19 himself, 13 in the second half (nine in the final six minutes). Blackshear also had seven assists that led directly to 19 more Pack points. Five of the Wolf Pack’s six 3-pointers came off Blackshear assists and all five were to different players.

When Blackshear has four-plus assists in a game the Pack is 17-3 this year and 3-3 when he doesn’t. He also fed Darrion Williams for a 27-26 lead late in the first half. The Pack’s highly productive combo also paid off in a timely manner when Blackshear found Lucas for a layup and a 71-63 lead with just under two minutes left. You don’t even want to imagine where the Pack would be this year without Blackshear.


Fresno State simply could not contain Baker, the Wolf Pack’s dunk and layup maker. Everyone in the Mountain West knows what Baker will do (yes, of course, dunks and layups) and, well, most everyone has been helpless to stop it.

The Bulldogs came up with another plan that involved fouling the 7-foot center and that also didn’t work since, of course, he’s an 84 percent free throw shooter. Baker was 8-of-9 from the line and had four layups to finish with 19 points. He also had a clutch 3-pointer for a 54-52 lead with nine minutes to go to totally confuse the Bulldogs.

Baker had 10 points in the first half and nine in the second half over his 28 total minutes. This is the seventh time this year that Baker has scored 16-plus points in 29 or fewer minutes. It is also just the fifth time all year he’s made at least half his field goals (5-of-7), 2-pointers (4-of-5), threes (1-of-2) and free throws (8-of-9) in the same game.


The 6-7 utility man avoided foul trouble, sprinkled in a little offense with his usual suffocating defense and turned in a prototypical Tre Coleman performance. Coleman had five points (all in the first half) and also blocked two shots, handed out two assists, pulled down four rebounds and had a steal in 33 minutes. He was on the floor for all but 98 seconds of the second half and took just one shot (a missed three with 2:49 left). His lone 3-pointer gave the Pack a 34-29 lead with just 10 seconds to go in the first half.


The 6-6 freshman was brilliant all over the floor, turning in arguably the best performance of his young career. Williams was efficient and productive, scoring a career-high 16 points in 36 valuable minutes. He was 4-of-5 from the floor, made both his threes, and was 6-of-7 from the free throw line. He had five assists, giving him 17 assists over his last three games combined.

Forget the official depth chart. Williams is the true backup Pack point guard. Williams also had eight rebounds and a steal. Four of his five assists produced easy Pack layups (three by Baker, of course). The Pack future with Williams (stay away, transfer portal) is extremely bright because of his versatility and we saw it all on display on Friday.



The 6-8 Davidson basically performed the role of Will Baker’s stunt double on Friday, going in the game three times for the Pack center. Davidson played just 12 minutes and scored just two points with two rebounds, a block, assist and turnover. The Pack, though, did outscore Fresno 15-7 when he was on the court. His jumper (he was 1-of-4 from the floor) gave the Pack a 40-36 lead with 16:28 left in the game. He also blocked a Leo Colimerio layup attempt with 14 minutes to go, protecting a 40-29 lead.


Foster didn’t take a shot, score a point or make any meaningful passes in his 11 minutes. But he did find the time to grab five rebounds, four in his eight first-half minutes. He had as many rebounds, by the way, as Baker did in 28 minutes. But Baker, as usual, was busy scoring. Fresno State did outscore the Pack 18-14 with Foster on the floor.


Powell had one shining moment in his 10 minutes, draining a 3-pointer to give the Pack a welcome 51-49 lead with 9:40 to play. His other nine-plus minutes were filled with two turnovers, a foul and a rebound. The Pack did outscore Fresno State 25-19 with Powell on the floor.


All of Pettigrew’s four minutes came late in the first half. He was called for a foul 15 seconds after he stepped on the floor and then gave the stat-keeping folks a rest his final three minutes.


Coach Steve Alford apparently told his Wolf Pack to attack on Friday and it paid off big time. The Pack used the 3-point shot as an afterthought (just 6-of-12 for the game) and instead made a living at the free throw line. Fresno State was called for 24 fouls (11 more than the Pack) and could only stand there and watch the hometown team enjoy a 23-of-26 performance at the line. Fresno State was just 8-of-11. The Bulldogs actually outscored the Wolf Pack 58-54 from the field. That, Pack fans, is how you take advantage of a distinct home court advantage. The victory over Fresno State gives Alford his first 20-win season at Nevada.


It wasn’t the prettiest or most dramatic of Pack’s victories this year (20-6 overall, 10-3 in Mountain West) but it followed a familiar, reliable script.

The Pack outscored Fresno State when it mattered most, going on a 16-8 over the final four minutes of the first half to lead 34-32 at the break and then authored an 18-7 run the final six minutes of the game to win by 11. The offensively-challenged Bulldogs (a Mountain West-worst 62.1 points a game) simply couldn’t match the Pack energy and determination at clutch time.

The Pack, losers of six of its final eight home games last year, are now a perfect 13-0 at home this year. The formula (control the officials, share the ball and take good shots) works.


Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

Sign in to comment