Grading the Nevada Wolf Pack’s 77-66 men’s basketball victory over the Montana Grizzlies at Lawlor Events Center on Wednesday.
JAROD LUCAS: C
Jarod Lucas’ only real value to the Wolf Pack this season so far, except for one magical night against Portland on Nov. 18, has been as a free throw shooter.
The veteran shooting guard’s struggles with his shot returned Wednesday against Montana. Lucas was 3-of-10 from the floor (he didn’t make a shot in the final 12 minutes) and scored 16 points, mainly because of a 9-of-10 performance from the line.
Getting to the line, of course, is a valuable skill. But keep in mind he’s doing it so far this year predominantly at home (four of the five games have been at Lawlor Events Center). You can't always rely on free throws on the road.
Lucas was 1-of-3 on threes against Montana but didn’t attempt a shot from beyond the arc over the final 32 minutes, a sign he’s losing confidence from that range.
Lucas scored 30 points against Portland 11 days earlier on 9-of-15 shooting (6-of-9 on threes), signaling that his shooting struggles were over. In the four games not against Portland this year, however, he is just 14-of-49 (29 percent) from the floor, 5-of-22 on threes (23 percent) and averaged 14.5 points a game because he made 26-of-27 from the line (20-of-21 at home).
Lucas’ struggles with 3-pointers actually started late last year when he was just 9-of-34 (27 percent) over the final seven games as the Pack went 2-5.
Lucas’ streak of successful free throws ended at 38 in a row dating back to last season’s Mountain West tournament game before he missed with 13 seconds to go on Wednesday.
KENAN BLACKSHEAR: A
Blackshear was solid and consistent, scoring 22 points and pulling down 10 rebounds in just 28 minutes for his second consecutive double-double (he had 14 points, 11 assists against Portland).
The veteran point guard had seven boards and 10 points in the first half. He scored nine points (5-of-6 from the line) over the final 7:44 to keep the Pack comfortably in the lead despite picking up two quick fouls in 10 seconds with 4:30 to play.
Blackshear missed his only 3-point attempt and has basically given up the shot this year, taking just three in five games (he’s missed them all). Last year he made just 28 percent (18-of-64) on threes and is just 29 percent from long distance over his five-year career (the first two were at Florida Atlantic).
NICK DAVIDSON: D+
Davidson had a night he’d just as soon forget. The 6-8 sophomore failed to score in double digits for the first time this year, finishing with just three points (with four fouls and two turnovers) in 20 minutes.
He made his first shot, draining a 3-pointer just 90 seconds into the game, but then missed his final three shots while he battled foul trouble.
Davidson, whose brother Zack is a freshman on Montana’s roster (he has yet to play), also didn’t get to the free throw line at all against Montana. He’s now gone 40 minutes over the last two games without getting a free throw attempt after going 11-for-11 over the first three games.
Not much went right for Davidson on Wednesday. He did have five rebounds, though the first three came in the game’s first dozen minutes.
DANIEL FOSTER: C
The 6-6 senior from Australia made his first start since the third game of last season. He responded with four points, three rebounds, an assist and a block in 25 minutes.
Most of those numbers took place in a 27-second flurry midway through the second half when he had two layups and a rebound. His other 24 minutes were spent doing what he normally does, passing the ball out of the post and playing defense.
Foster’s start might have been a reward for his 14-point, nine-rebound performance the previous game against Portland when he made two threes. He missed his only 3-pointer against Montana and is now just 14-of-49 (29 percent) for his four-year career.
K.J. HYMES: A
Montana’s Hack-A-Hymes strategy simply did not work. The Wolf Pack’s 6-10 sixth-year center was 9-of-12 from the line and finished with an efficient 13 points, five rebounds and a block in 24 minutes.
The nine free throws (and 12 attempts) are the high for his 88-game career though he’s scored more than 13 points five times (a high of 17 against Boise State on Feb. 5, 2021).
Hymes played a large role in the Pack’s 15-2 start with three points (all from the line), two rebounds and a block in the game’s first six minutes. He went to the line on six occasions against Montana, three times going 2-for-2 and three times going 1-for-2.
He had two layups, giving the Pack a 34-17 lead late in the first half and a 41-18 lead just 22 seconds into the second half.
The 24 minutes he played Wednesday equaled his career high (24 against Utah State on Feb. 28, 2020).
HUNTER McINTOSH: C
McIntosh played 15 minutes and contributed three points (1-of-2 on threes) with three rebounds and a steal. He pulled down an offensive rebound and was quickly called for a foul with 8:19 to play.
His 3-pointer gave the Pack a 25-12 lead with just under eight minutes to play in the first half. It snapped an 0-for-8 slump beyond the arc for the 6-3 fifth-year guard.
JAZZ GARDNER: D+
The 7-foot freshman struggled noticeably for the first time this year, missing 4-of-5 shots, getting called for two fouls and turning the ball over once in his 12 minutes.
He had gone 14-of-22 from the floor over the Pack’s first four games for 30 total points and 19 rebounds. He had two points and three rebounds on Wednesday, contributing a layup for a 20-8 lead midway through the first half.
TRE COLEMAN: A
Tre Coleman was sent to the bench for the first time since Jan. 29, 2022 against Utah State (ending a streak of 50 starts in a row) and simply turned in one of his best games in a Wolf Pack uniform.
The 6-7 senior had seven points, six rebounds, five assists, a block and a steal in 28 minutes, made both his free throws and one of his three 3-pointers.
The Wolf Pack outscored Montana 19-3 in Coleman’s 11 first-half minutes thanks to his three assists, two points and his ever-present defense. That performance prompted the Pack to take Coleman off the bench just 39 seconds into the second half.
Coleman then played the next 8:35 and contributed five points, three rebounds and two assists and a block. He played the final 8:19 of the game in garbage time and added a pair of rebounds.
His 28 minutes ended up tied for the second-most on the team (with Blackshear) and behind just Lucas’ 32.
TYLER ROLISON: C+
The 6-foot freshman from Los Angeles connected on a 3-pointer and a pair of free throws for five points in his 15 minutes. Rolison also assisted on a 3-pointer by Hunter McIntosh and pulled down a rebound.
Rolison’s two free throws gave the Pack a 27-14 lead with 6:45 left in the first half and his 3-pointer gave the Pack a 60-41 lead with 11:20 to play. He is now 3-of-4 on threes and 9-of-9 on free throws this year and might blossom into a reliable source of offense off the bench before too long.
JERIAH COLEMAN: Incomplete
Coleman, a 7-foot, junior transfer from Clarendon (Texas) Community College, wasn’t shy in his 67 seconds of playing time with a dunk and a missed layup to close out the first half.
He’s now taken seven shots (making two) and pulled down 10 rebounds with three blocks in his 17 minutes this year over four appearances.
The Wolf Pack, playing for the first time after a strange 10-day vacation in late November, never was in jeopardy of losing this game. The Pack led 15-2 six minutes into the game and never let Montana closer than eight the rest of the way.
So it’s understandable the Pack kind of sleep-walked its way to this victory.
The goal at the end of the night was just to get to 5-0 and that was never threatened.
But this was the Pack’s worst effort of the year by far as Alford kind of used the game as a glorified scrimmage.
Blame it on the time off or the fact that the opponent was Montana of the Big Sky Conference. But the bottom line is that the Pack wasn’t bothered with playing defense in the second half, giving up a disturbing 48 points over the final 20 minutes to a Big Sky team at home.
Sticking Daniel Foster in the starting lineup for Tre Coleman was also a bit strange and was an indication how seriously the Pack took this game. The Pack, after all, was undefeated at the time and playing extremely well at both ends of the floor. Why tinker with things now? Maybe Alford was having a turkey tryptophan episode from last Thursday.
But no harm, no foul. Yes, we saw some Wolf Pack apathy and boredom in the second half that Alford should not have allowed. But maybe the coach was just looking for something to talk to his team about as the calendar flips to December.
Thank goodness for the Lawlor officials. The Pack won this game rather easily with a let’s-just-get-this-over-with effort because they went to the line for 38 free throws (making 30) while Montana was just 13-of-18.
The Pack has had a huge free throw advantage in every game this year, going 109-of-142 to the opponents’ 48-of-90. As long as that continues this year the Pack will be just fine.
The game was basically over when Montana missed 10 of its first 11 shots, turned the ball over twice and committed three fouls as the Pack built a 15-2 lead six minutes into the game. The lead was 39-18 at halftime and the second half was a glorified scrimmage.
The season is just getting started. You have to pick your spots before you unleash all-out intensity and energy for 40 minutes. That was certainly not required Wednesday.