Grading the Nevada Wolf Pack’s 69-67 men’s basketball overtime loss to the UNLV Rebels on Saturday at Lawlor Events Center:
JAROD LUCAS: A
The Pack’s 6-foot-3 shooting guard was excellent inside the 3-point line, going 5-of-5 from the floor on 2-pointers and repeatedly getting fouled (10-of-12 from the line). Lucas played 43 of the 45 minutes and all but 37 seconds of the final 30:49. He finished with 23 points despite missing 5-of-6 threes.
It is his second game in a row with 20-plus points after going three in a row with under nine each time. The key has been his ability to get to the line (19-of-22 combined the last two games after going 3-of-3 over the previous three). Lucas’ only successful 3-pointer tied the game at 15-15. He put the team on his back in the second half, scoring 14 points. He had 21 of the Pack’s 56 points in regulation and also scored the first two points in overtime for a 58-56 lead. Lucas also had an offensive rebound (he had six boards, equaling his season high) and an assist on a Will Baker jumper to tie the game at 60-60 with 2:08 to go in overtime.
KENAN BLACKSHEAR: C
The Pack point guard finished with a respectable 18 points but he missed 11-of-15 shots overall and two crucial free throws in the final 33 seconds of overtime and had just one assist to go with three turnovers. The Wolf Pack needs Blackshear to be much more efficient than that, even at home.
Blackshear had a chance to play hero but he missed a mid-range jumper at the end of regulation. He also missed a jumper in the paint with 18 seconds left. His final eight minutes of the first half were also a nightmare as he missed three layups and his only free throw while turning the ball over three times.
Blackshear now heads to the Mountain West Tournament after missing 15 of his last 21 shots over his final two regular season games.
WILL BAKER: D
The 6-11 center, as usual against UNLV, never looked comfortable or found his rhythm on Saturday. Baker had a miserable first half with two points, four turnovers, a rebound and a foul and never really recovered. He finished with eight points, five turnovers and four rebounds in 25 minutes. He scored just 10 points in two games against UNLV this season. Last year he had 21 in two games against the Rebels but missed 16-of-25 shots. Baker has never beaten the Rebels (0-4) in his two seasons at Nevada.
Half of Baker’s eight points came on a pair of free throws and a layup to give the Pack a 47-44 lead with 7:31 to go in regulation. He also hit a jumper in the paint to tie the game at 60-60 with two minutes left in overtime. He saw his streak of 10 games in a row with 10-plus points come to an end on Saturday. The 10-game streak was book ended by the two UNLV games.
TRE COLEMAN: D
Coleman followed up a 22-point effort against Wyoming with a four points on Saturday. The 6-7 Coleman played just 23 minutes despite picking up just three fouls. He didn’t play the final 92 seconds of overtime after feeding Darrion Williams for a layup that tied the game at 62-62. Coleman, who took 12 shots against Wyoming, put up just three against UNLV. All four of his points came in the game’s first five-plus minutes. He sat the bench for 10-plus minutes in the first half and for a stretch of 9:13 in the second half (after picking up his third foul). When Coleman was on the floor the Pack was outscored 39-33. He didn’t have a block or a steal.
DARRION WILLIAMS: B
Williams gave the Pack a team-high 12 rebounds for his 10th game this season with double-digit boards. He also had six points, a team-best five assists and a steal against his hometown team (he played at Bishop Gorman High last season) in 38 minutes. The 6-6 freshman had a chance to tie the game at the end of overtime but missed a shot under the basket after stealing the ball from UNLV’s Shane Nowell. Williams’ five assists led to 11 Pack points. The Pack was even with the Rebels (61-61) with Williams on the floor.
NICK DAVIDSON: A
Davidson, who didn’t play in the five-minute overtime, gave the Pack a productive eight points and a career-high 10 rebounds in 20 minutes. When the 6-8 freshman was on the floor the Pack outscored UNLV 28-12. Davidson also blocked two shots and had an assist. He was 3-of-8 from the floor, missing both his threes and two of his four free throws. His second successful free throw gave the Pack a seemingly comfortable 54-46 lead with just 2:28 to go in regulation. Davidson then blocked a 3-pointer by E.J. Harkless and missed a layup and was sent to the bench with the Pack up 54-51 with 1:27 to go.
DANIEL FOSTER: B
Foster, who also didn’t play in the overtime, gave the Pack a solid 15 minutes without scoring a point or taking a shot. He dished out four key assists, leading to nine Pack points. The Pack outscored UNLV 27-23 with Foster on the floor. When he left the game, never to return, the Pack was up 53-46 with 3:36 to go in regulation. His only rebound was on the offensive end, sandwiched around by two Pack 3-point misses early in the first half. He blocked a shot and was called for three fouls.
TYLER POWELL: Incomplete
Powell played just four minutes, all in the first half, and didn’t score. He played 2:27 the first time he stepped on the court. The second time he played 1:43, missed a 3-pointer and then watched the second half and overtime from the bench.
HUNTER McINTOSH: C
McIntosh, the only reserve to play in the overtime, didn’t score and had an assist in 16 minutes. He missed his only two shots and fed Blackshear for a 3-poiter that gave the Pack a 65-64 lead with 55 seconds to go in overtime. UNLV outscored the Pack 23-16 with McIntosh on the floor.
The Wolf Pack was all over the place on Saturday and so was Steve Alford’s rotation. Davidson and Foster played very well in regulation but never stepped on the floor in overtime. Coleman played just 23 total minutes despite being called for just three fouls. Baker played just 25 minutes despite just two fouls.
Coaches always have their reasons for why they divvy up the minutes but whatever Alford was doing on Saturday, well, it didn’t work. The Pack came out flat at home with a perfect season at home on the line, digging a 13-0 hole in the first four minutes. They then went back to sleep over the final nine minutes of the first half. The Pack then threw away a 54-46 lead with two minutes to go in regulation. This is not how you are supposed to play your rival in the final home game of the regular season.
The Pack has looked disjointed, confused, unsure of itself and, at times, simply overconfident since a 77-76 last-second win at New Mexico on Feb. 7. That was seven games ago. Where’s the grit, aggressiveness, focus and sense of urgency the Pack showed the first 20-plus games? Alford needs to somehow get control of his team before Thursday’s (2:30 p.m.) first Mountain West Tournament game in Las Vegas.
Remember when the Pack was 20-6 overall and 10-3 in the Mountain Wet and seemingly a lock for the NCAA Tournament? Well, that was five games ago. Since then the Pack (22-9, 12-6) has lost three of five games with all three losses coming in stunning fashion. They lost at Utah State after building a 30-9 lead, lost at Wyoming to the Mountain West’s worst team and then blew a perfect home season (now 14-1) against their rival in front of a home crowd of 11,327.
How do you lose to UNLV when its starting point guard (Keshon Gilbert) played just four minutes before getting ejected? The Rebels’ top scorer (E.J. Harkless) fouled out with a minute to go in regulation and the Pack up 56-54. The officials, as they usually have done this year at Lawlor, tried to drag the Pack over the finish line, calling 27 fouls on UNLV, fouling two Rebels (Harkless, David Muoka) out of the game, throwing one (Gilbert) out of the game midway through the first half and dumping four fouls (Shane Nowell, Luis Rodriguez) each on two others.
The Pack really had to try to lose on Saturday and they accomplished their mission by missing 12 free throws, 10-of-12 3-pointers and 33-of-54 shots overall. Not even Lawlor or the officials could save the Pack from themselves on Saturday.
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