Grades: Pack run out of answers against San Jose State

Nevada's Kenan Blackshear's reverse layup attempt doesn't go in against UNLV.

Nevada's Kenan Blackshear's reverse layup attempt doesn't go in against UNLV.
Photo by Thomas Ranson.

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By Joe Santoro

For the Nevada Appeal

Grading the Nevada Wolf Pack’s 81-77 men’s basketball overtime loss to the San Jose State Spartans on Thursday in the Mountain West Tournament at Las Vegas . . .

Jarod Lucas was the best player on the court. The 6-3 shooting guard scored a game-high 28 points, connecting on 10-of-19 shots, to go along with four rebounds, three assists and two steals. The 28 points equals his season high (three times). The flip side to all this is that Lucas simply ran out of gas. The 190-pounder played 43 of the 45 minutes, including the last 34 without a break. He furiously had to score 18 points in the second half just to get the Pack to overtime. It was his jumper in the paint with 20 seconds to go that sent the game to overtime. In the extra five minutes, though, he missed his first four shots (three threes) and the Pack never did recover. His jumper in the paint with six seconds to go was his only bucket in overtime. Lucas went on a mini slump for three games against Utah State, Fresno State and San Jose State from Feb. 18-24, scoring just a combined 19 points. He was 1-of-9 for three points against San Jose State on Feb. 21. But the Pack won two of those three games. The last three games he has caught fire once again, scoring 75 combined points against Wyoming, UNLV and San Jose State but the Pack lost all three.

Blackshear gave the Wolf Pack a solid 40 minutes, scoring 16 points with six rebounds. But he missed 7-of-11 shots, turned the ball over three times and had just two assists. He also picked up four game-changing fouls in the second half and bounced back and forth from the court to the bench in the overtime (he played three of the five minutes). Blackshear did have a pair of layups just 74 seconds apart to give the Pack a 61-59 lead with 3:46 to go in the second half. But he also committed two fouls (one on offense) and missed two layups in the final 3:31 of regulation. Blackshear is just 10-of-36 from the floor over the Pack’s last three games, all losses.

The Wolf Pack center didn’t do much (one point, six rebounds, a block) but coach Steve Alford didn’t allow him to do much (just 19 minutes in a 45-minute game). Alford sat Baker down the final 11 minutes of the game, forcing him to watch the entire overtime from the bench. Baker took just two shots, his fewest ever in his two-year Pack career. Was Alford upset with Baker’s defense in the paint? Baker did have six rebounds (five on the defensive glass) and blocked a layup by the Spartans’ Sage Tolbert. San Jose had a disturbing 46-26 edge in paint scoring but what do you think is going to happen when your 7-foot center is on the bench for more than half the game? Most of those 46 points were either on fast-break opportunities or short jumpers by guards or when Baker was on the bench. So don’t blame it all on Baker. The Pack was outscored 32-29 with Baker on the floor but when the center left the game for good the Pack was up 57-54 with just under six minutes to go in the second half. In Baker’s final 4:46 on the floor the Pack outscored San Jose State 12-8 but Alford had seen enough of that.

The 6-7 Coleman blocked three shots, handed out four assists and scored five points in his 38 minutes. His last two blocks came against San Jose State’s Omari Moore, with just under four minutes to go in the second half and just 15 seconds into the overtime. Coleman had a productive three-minute flurry down the stretch in the second half when he drained a 3-pointer for a 52-48 lead with eight minutes to go and assisted on a Lucas 3-pointer and a Blackshear layup with five minutes left. But the rest of his afternoon was filled with missed shots and watching the Spartans score in the paint and on the fastbreak. He was 1-of-8 from the floor and 1-of-6 on threes. He also had just one rebound and no steals. Those eight shots are his second most this year behind the 12 he took at Wyoming two weeks ago (in another Pack loss).

Williams, playing in his hometown, scored nine points with seven rebounds and three assists in his 38 minutes. Williams took the lead offensively to start the game, taking five shots in the first 14 minutes. But he missed four of those shots as the Pack scored just 14 points in those first 14 minutes. Williams didn’t take a shot in the game’s final 19 minutes, scoring his only two points over the final 23 minutes of the game on two free throws with 27 seconds left in overtime. He also had just two of his seven rebounds in the final 19 minutes.


Davidson literally filled up the stat sheet, getting at least one of everything in all 15 categories. Just two other Pack players (Will Baker twice and Darrion Williams once) have done that this year, though Davidson is the first to do it off the bench. The 6-8 freshman had 13 points, eight rebounds (three on offense), was 5-of-7 from the floor, 1-of-2 on threes and 2-of-2 from the line to go along with four fouls and an assist, turnover, block and steal. He played 13 minutes in the second half and scored nine points with five boards, a 3-pointer and a block. He played all but 32 seconds of the overtime, scoring two points with a rebound and getting called for three fouls. Davidson and Baker were mirror images of each other. Davidson played 26 minutes and Baker sat the bench for 26 minutes and the two never were on the floor together for even a second. That strategy turned into a heartbreaking loss.

Foster played just three minutes (actually 2:42), all midway through the first half and was never seen on the floor again.

TYLER POWELL: Incomplete
Powell played three minutes, all late in the first half, and never got off the bench the rest of the game. He did take a pass from Nick Davidson and connected on a 3-pointer to cut the San Jose State lead to 29-21 with 1:54 left in the first half but that wasn’t enough to warrant further playing time.

McIntosh was trusted with 14 minutes and he responded by not scoring and missing all four (two threes) of his shots. He did work hard, pulling down three rebounds, dishing out a pair of assists and getting called for a foul. He fed Davidson for a dunk that tied the game (44-44) with 11:46 to go in regulation and pulled down a rebound and fed Coleman for a 3-pointer for a 52-48 lead with eight minutes left. Maybe he should have played more often.

Pettigrew gets a letter grade (instead of an incomplete) here on sheer effort alone. The freshman played just four minutes but he was the most active Pack player second-for-second on the team. He missed a layup, made two free throws, committed three fouls, grabbed two rebounds, drained two free throws for two points and even turned the ball over once. Some of us can't get back and forth from the couch to the refrigerator and back in four minutes.

Earlier this week we questioned why San Jose State coach Tim Miles was voted the Mountain West Coach of the Year over the Pack’s Steve Alford. Alford, after all, whipped Miles’ Spartans twice in the regular season, finished with a better record and didn’t have the conference’s Player of the Year (San Jose State’s Omari Moore) at his disposal. Well, on Thursday, we saw why. Miles dictated the entire game, somehow convincing Alford to play Baker just 19 minutes and taking the Pack out of its offensive comfort zone. The Spartans seemed to always get the shot they wanted when they wanted it. The Spartans scored 46 points in the paint. Alford and the Pack defense never figured out a way to slow them down. Other than just letting Jarod Lucas take all the shots and score all the points, Alford also never figured out a way to light a fire under his struggling offense.

San Jose State really didn’t play all that well. The Spartans missed 19-of-25 3-pointers, 6-of-11 free throws and were outrebounded 42-34. The officials even called 21 of the game’s 37 fouls on them, handing the Wolf Pack 11 more free throws. And, still, the Pack lost. The Pack, fighting an uphill battle all game, was simply exhausted by halftime. San Jose State had seven fast-break points in the overtime and the Pack had none. The Pack settled for threes in the extra five minutes and missed all five of them. Jarod Lucas tried to beat the Spartans all by himself and his teammates seemed more than happy to let him try. What we witnessed on Thursday was a Wolf Pack team out of answers.


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