After tough loss, Pack regroups, looks to Idaho | NevadaAppeal.com
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After tough loss, Pack regroups, looks to Idaho

Joe Santoro
For the Nevada Appeal

The Nevada Wolf Pack men’s basketball team promises that it has learned its lesson.

“A couple of us came in early today (to practice) and shot a few field goals and free throws,” said Pack guard Brandon Fields on Friday. “That was a tough loss for us (79-72 on Wednesday in overtime to Utah State). I think we’ll be more focused the rest of the year.”

The Wolf Pack (10-7 overall and 2-2 in the Western Athletic Conference) will host the Idaho Vandals (8-7, 1-3) Saturday night (7:05 p.m.) at Lawlor Events Center.

“I just think we did get a little bit cocky last time,” said Fields, referring to the Pack’s 10-point lead (65-55) on Utah State with seven minutes to play. “When we’re in that situation again I know we’ll handle it better.”

The Utah State loss was the Wolf Pack’s first at home this season in nine games.

“After a tough loss like that the best thing is to just go back right out and play,” the Pack’s Luke Babbitt said. “If we had to wait a week we would probably just be mad the whole time. Now we get to go out and take out our anger on Idaho.”

Babbitt said the Pack hopes to turn the Utah State loss into a positive.

“It can be helpful if you learn from it,” Babbitt said. “You never like to say it, but losses can help you.”

Pack coach David Carter wants the Pack to learn one important lesson from the loss.

“The biggest thing is consistency,” said Carter who is now 8-1 at home as a head coach. “When you get up on a team like that you still have to attack. We lost our aggressiveness. We settled (for the first open jump shot). We have to grow from that.”

Saturday night’s game is important to both teams. The Wolf Pack certainly doesn’t want its second loss in a row on its home floor and Idaho will bring a three-game WAC losing streak into the game.

“They are hungry and so are we,” Carter said.

The Vandals are led by guard Mac Hopson, who is ninth in the WAC in scoring at 15.3 points a game. Hopson averaged 17.5 points, 5.0 rebounds and eight assists last season in two games against Nevada.

“He’s a tough guard,” Fields said. “He can score inside and he can shoot the three. We just have to stay attached to him.”

Idaho also features guard Steffon Johnson, who is sixth in the WAC with 1.4 steals a game and 3rd in shooting 3-pointers (.453 %). The Vandals’ Marvin Jefferson is 13th in the WAC in rebounding (6.3) and third in blocked shots (1.8).

“That’s a tough team, a talented team,” Fields said. “They came a long way last year and surprised us a little.”

After the Utah State loss, the Pack vows never to be surprised again.

“We’re past Utah State,” guard Ray Kraemer said. “It’s in the back of our minds a little but we’re focusing on Idaho now.”

“You can point to a million things that went wrong in that game,” said Babbitt of the overtime loss to the Aggies. “The main thing is that we’re ready to move on. We can’t lose two in a row.”

“The good thing about basketball is that we’re able to go back out three days later and play again,” Carter said. “You want to get that bad taste out of your mouth. But until you win again that bad taste will stay in your mouth.”