Grading the Nevada Wolf Pack’s 80-71 men’s basketball loss to the Wyoming Cowboys on Monday at Laramie, Wyo.:
JAROD LUCAS: A
Lucas finally regained his scoring touch, pouring in 24 points on three threes and draining 9-of-10 free throws. Lucas scored the Pack’s last nine points in the game’s final 2:27, seven from the free-throw line. The 6-3 shooting guard, who had just 13 points on 2-of-11 threes over his three previous games, drained two threes in the first seven minutes of the game. But then he didn’t score for nearly 11 minutes. He did recover to give the Pack leads of 35-33 and 37-33 on jumpers with 2:29 and 1:07 to go in the first half. This was the most aggressive Lucas has been on offense since he went 9-of-12 from the line against New Mexico on Jan. 23. The drawback, though, was that he was a bit too focused on scoring on Monday and doing little else. He had just two rebounds and no assists or steals. The Pack is now 2-4 when Lucas has two or fewer rebounds, assists and steals combined in a game.
KENAN BLACKSHEAR: D
The Wolf Pack simply cannot afford Blackshear to go through another disjointed and confused performance like the one we saw on Monday. Blackshear took just three shots and didn’t score a point in the first half as he watched Tre Coleman shoot and score. Coach Steve Alford took Blackshear out of the game three times in the first half thanks, mainly, to three fouls. In the second half he was on the floor for all but 43 seconds of the 20 minutes and, at times, seemed to regain his balance, focus, aggressiveness and comfort zone. He hit a jumper for a 62-58 lead with 6:36 to go and looked like he’d carry the Pack to a victory down the stretch like he has many times this season. But this time he missed all four of his shots over the final six minutes, including two short jumpers in the paint and a layup. He even fired up an errant three with under four minutes to go, never a good idea for Blackshear (a 27 percent shooter from beyond the arc this year) at any time. Blackshear finished with just five points, five rebounds and five assists in 31 minutes. Almost all of the assists (four) and rebounds (three) came in the first half while all of the points came in the first 14 minutes of the second half. The five points equals his season low. On Monday, Blackshear didn’t know whether to shoot, pass, play defense or go sit on the bench.
WILL BAKER: C
Baker seemed on the verge of taking over the game offensively at times, as he’s done a few times this year. But then coach Steve Alford would take him off the floor or he’d pick up a foul and head back to the bench and all of his momentum would disappear. Baker spent the last six-plus minutes of the game getting pulled off the floor four times without even taking a shot as a 60-58 Pack lead turned into a disturbing 80-71 loss. Baker finished with 14 points, six rebounds and two steals on efficient 6-of-9 shooting in just 26 minutes. He was dominant in the first 12 minutes of the game, scoring eight points on 4-of-5 shooting to go along with two assists and a steal as the Pack took a 27-21 lead. He was solid once again the first 12-plus minutes of the second half with six points, an assist and a steal. His offensive rebound and layup gave the Pack a 58-57 lead with 7:23 to go. But then he was called for his fourth foul with 6:48 to go and the Pack’s bubble burst.
TRE COLEMAN: A
Now, at least, we know Coleman can score. We always had a sense the 6-foot-7 defensive standout could put up some points if he put his mind to it. But his mind was always on his defense. Well, his mind wandered on Monday, finishing with a career-high 22 points, and connecting on four threes (three in the first seven minutes). His career high before Monday was 14 against San Jose State two years ago. This was just the 15th time in his 87-game Pack career that he’s scored 10-plus points. In the perfect world and in a Pack bubble, when Coleman puts up 22 points, the Pack should win by something along the lines of 25-plus points, especially against a last-place team. But college basketball doesn’t operate in a perfect world or a bubble. Everything that happens is connected to everything else that happens. It’s a give and take and, well, when Coleman was taking shots nobody else was giving much production. Coleman’s offensive explosion lasted for roughly 25 minutes as he scored all 22 of his points to help the Pack to a 53-48 lead with 15 minutes to go. Coleman didn’t score and took just one shot the final 15 minutes and watched Wyoming score 26 points because he was forced to play at three-quarters speed and intensity at both ends the final 10 minutes with four fouls.
DARRION WILLIAMS: C
The 6-6 freshman hustled on defense with a team-high seven rebounds and three steals. At times, he was the only Pack player getting results on the defensive end. But he also scored just four points on 2-of-8 shooting. His highlight was a steal and layup for a 60-57 Pack lead with seven minutes to play. But he then spent the rest of the game missing a 3-pointer, committing a turnover and drawing a foul. Williams also didn’t have a rebound in the final 16 minutes when the Pack was dominated on the boards 22-8. All seven of his rebounds came over the final 3:31 of the first half and the first four minutes of the second half.
NICK DAVIDSON: C
The 6-8 freshman certainly didn’t spend his 11 minutes on the floor standing around and doing nothing. Davidson packed as much activity into his 11 minutes as possible without even scoring a point. He had five fouls, missed all four of his shots (two 3-pointers), had two offensive rebounds, a block, steal and turnover. Davidson picked up three fouls in just three-plus minutes in the second half. He fouled out with 4:26 to go and the game tied 62-62 and sat the bench and watched his teammates get outscored 18-9 the rest of the way.
DANIEL FOSTER: D
Foster gave the Pack 15 empty minutes, though he did have a layup for a 23-17 Pack lead and followed that with a steal. He was 1-of-4 from the floor and didn’t have a rebound or an assist. His last nine-plus minutes consisted of three missed shots.
TYLER POWELL: Incomplete
Powell got five token minutes and barely touched the ball.
HUNTER McINTOSH: D
McIntosh, playing just his third game this year, struggled in his 13 minutes. The 6-2 guard didn’t score, missing his three shots (two threes) with three fouls, an assist and a turnover.
Steve Alford simply lost control of his team on Monday. Maybe he was stunned by Coleman hitting three 3-pointers in the first six-plus minutes. Whatever it was, the Pack seemed determined on Monday to forget how it captured its 22 victories this year. They stopped rebounding and scoring in the last eight minutes. And they didn’t play any defense the entire night. The only other team that has scored 80 points on the Pack in regulation time this year was Kansas State in the Cayman Islands back in November. Wyoming guard Hunter Maldonado and forward Jeremiah Oden basically controlled the Pack. The 6-8 Oden had 28 points and the 6-7 Maldonado was brilliant with 25 points, 11 assists, nine rebounds and two steals. The Pack was outrebounded 37-27 and allowed Wyoming to shoot 23-of-47 from the floor. The effort was simply not there for the Pack at either end of the floor. The Pack has now lost six games in a row to Wyoming. The first five losses in that streak should have been enough motivation for the Pack to bury this team.
We kind of saw this coming. Sort of. The Pack won at New Mexico on a last-second shot by Blackshear on Feb. 7 in front of 15,004 fans at The Pit and has not captured that sort of intensity and sense of urgency since. After winning at The Pit, the Pack muddled through lackluster wins at home against Fresno State and San Jose State, was stunned in a loss at Utah State and sleepwalked through a win at Fresno State. It was obviously a team in need of a wakeup call and, hopefully for the Pack, that wakeup call came at Wyoming. Teams with 22 wins and apparently headed to the NCAA Tournament need to bury a team like Wyoming in late February. That win, after all, was just Wyoming’s ninth all year and fourth in the Mountain West. Alford’s biggest challenge now is figuring out his new rotation with McIntosh as well as reminding his team that the NCAA Tournament selection committee is always looking for ways to keep 22-win Mountain West teams out of the bracket. It is imperative the Pack rights it ship in the regular-season finale at home Saturday afternoon (2 p.m.) against UNLV.
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