Grades: Pack has shocking collapse at Utah State

Nevada's Will Baker against Utah State on Feb. 18, 2023 in Logan, Utah.

Nevada's Will Baker against Utah State on Feb. 18, 2023 in Logan, Utah.
Nevada Athletics

  • Discuss Comment, Blog about
  • Print Friendly and PDF

Grading the Nevada Wolf Pack’s 75-66 men’s basketball loss to the Utah State Aggies on Saturday in Logan, Utah:



The 6-3 shooting guard stumbled through his worst game this season. Lucas scored a season-low eight points and was on the floor for a season-low 24 minutes because of a season-high four fouls. His first two fouls came in the first 6:28 of the first half and his second two fouls came in the first 7:27 of the second half.

In between the fouls and the pit stops on the bench he missed 7-of-10 shots, including 3-of-4 threes. The Aggies, with the officials’ help, basically took the Wolf Pack’s leading scorer (17.3 a game) out of the game. Lucas, second in the Mountain West with 2.6 threes a game, didn’t even attempt a 3-pointer until there was just 7:29 to play. His lone 3-pointer tied the game at 64-64 with 2:26 to play.


The Pack point guard struggled to find the offense’s rhythm once Will Baker stopped making shots. Blackshear scored 14 points himself on 4-of-11 shooting and had six assists. But in the final 16 minutes, when Utah State made it a game and the Pack needed Blackshear’s leadership, he delivered just four points (0-of-4 from the floor) and one assist and turned the ball over three times. Blackshear did hit a jumper and a 3-pointer to give the Pack a 52-44 lead with 16:09 to play. But, from that point on, Utah State did its best to prevent Blackshear from attacking the basket. It also didn’t help that the Pack point guard looked around and didn’t find anyone in silver and blue hitting shots.


No player in Wolf Pack history has ever started a game as productively as Will Baker did on Saturday. The 6-foot-11 center made his first seven shots (six threes) and scored the Pack’s first 22 points, all in the first five minutes of the game. His first five shots in the first 2:30 were all three-pointers.

The Wolf Pack after five minutes appeared on the way to an easy victory and Baker looked like he just might become the Wolf Pack’s first 50-point scorer. But then midnight struck, the Pack’s carriage turned into a pumpkin and Baker spent the rest of the night looking for his lost glass slipper.

How do you get a grade of B after scoring 22 points in the first five minutes? Well, you go 0-for-6 from the floor (missing two threes) and score just three more points with three turnovers over the final 35 minutes. Baker got off just two shots (missing a 3-pointer and a layup) in his 15 second-half minutes. The Wolf Pack, by the way, was also outscored 71-44 over those final 35 minutes for one of the most remarkable collapses in school history.


Coleman had three assists (on three Baker 3-pointers) in a span of just 54 seconds as the Pack jumped out to a 12-2 lead two minutes into the game. He connected on a jumper for a 39-26 lead and then assisted on a Darrion Williams 3-pointer for a 42-28 lead with three minutes to go in the first half.

The 6-7 guard finished with two points, five assists (on five 3-pointers) with two steals in 33 minutes. Even his steal eventually led to another Pack 3-pointer. He missed a layup with 9:44 to play and another with 4:41 to play and then sat the bench for the final four minutes of the game.


Williams was easily the Pack’s most consistent player from start to finish Saturday. The 6-6 freshman finished with nine points and 11 rebounds to go along with two blocks, an assist and a steal in his 35 minutes. Seven of his points came in the first half when he hit a 3-pointer for a 42-28 lead with just under three minutes to go before the break. He had five rebounds in the first half and six more in the second half. He never left the floor in the second half until he fouled out with 58 seconds to play. Williams also blocked a Max Shulga shot in the first half and a Sean Bairstow shot in the second half.



Davidson gave the Pack an empty 12 minutes. The 6-8 freshman failed to score, missing his three shots while pulling down two rebounds. His first two misses were layups in the first half and his third was a 3-pointer as the game ended. The Pack needed him to be more aggressive in the second half with Baker vanishing and Lucas going 1-for-6 and Blackshear 2-of-7. Davidson has now scored just six points over his last three games in 45 combined minutes, missing 9-of-11 shots.


Foster played a season-high 24 minutes and scored six points with a rebound, block and a steal. He was part of the Pack party in the first 10 minutes, breaking free to the basket for a pair of layups off two Kenan Blackshear passes. Baker also found him for a dunk and a 57-53 Pack lead with 12:21 to play. The Wolf Pack outscored Utah State 23-17 in Foster’s 11 first-half minutes and was outscored 30-15 in his 13 second-half minutes.


Powell certainly wasn’t shy. The 6-6 transfer from Seton Hall played just six minutes (actually 6:29) but found the time to take three shots, score two points, grab two rebounds, commit two fouls, turn the ball over once and get a steal. He deserved more than six minutes.


The Pack led 19-2 less than four minutes into the game. It was 30-9 less than 10 minutes in. Utah State coach Ryan Odom made his adjustments and the Wolf Pack melted right before our eyes. Think Frosty the Snowman when the sun came out.

The Pack was outscored 66-36 over the final 30 minutes. Nothing Alford did could stop the bleeding. The Pack scored just 19 points in the second half, its fewest points in a half since it had 12 in the first half of a 98-42 loss at Colorado State on Jan. 14, 2015.

Utah State took an 85-70 loss at Reno last month and learned from it. The Pack got fat and lazy. Blackshear, Lucas, Davidson and Baker combined for 81 points in Reno against the Aggies and produced just 47 points combined on Saturday in Logan, Utah. The Pack shot 18-of-29 in the first half Saturday (they were an identical 18-of-29 in the second half in Reno last month against Utah State) and then shot 5-of-26 in the second half. Utah State is simply not that good of a defensive team.

Alford should have been able to guide his team to a victory on Saturday after a 30-9 start. This is precisely the type of game (up by 21, lose by nine) we never thought was possible with a veteran coach like Alford on the bench. And it wasn’t before Saturday.


This (a 15-point lead or more at the half that turned into a loss) has never happened this century to the Wolf Pack. The biggest Wolf Pack halftime lead before Saturday (the Pack led 47-32) that eventually turned into a loss since 1999 was 14 (27-13) in a 64-58 loss to Wyoming at home on Feb. 17, 2015. The Pack (now 20-7 overall, 10-4 in the Mountain West) was also up 13 (43-30) on Fresno State at home on Jan. 20, 2010 at the half and lost 72-69.

Utah State is certainly not one of the more physical teams in the Mountain West but the Pack was outscored 36-12 in the paint on Saturday. Utah State simply out-executed and out-worked the Pack at both ends of the floor in the second half, getting easy shots on offense and making everything difficult for the Pack on defense.

But bad things usually happen to the Wolf Pack at Utah State. So this is not cause for alarm. It’s a bit disturbing and extremely shocking and goes down as one of the Pack’s biggest collapses in school history. But this needs to serve as a lesson learned on the value of playing hard for 40 minutes. Don’t be surprised if this is the Pack’s last regular season loss with only games against Fresno State and Wyoming on the road and San Jose State and UNLV at home remaining on the schedule.


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

Sign in to comment