Burton does it again for Pack
For the Nevada Appeal
RENO – Deonte Burton never even thought about giving up the basketball in the final seconds Saturday night.
“No chance,” smiled the Nevada Wolf Pack point guard. “I already envisioned what I was going to do.”
The 6-foot-1 Burton drained a 25-foot 3-pointer with two seconds to play as the Pack stunned the Green Bay Phoenix, 71-69, on the second day of the four-team, three-day World Vision Classic at Lawlor Events Center.
“I’m just happy I came through for my team,” Burton said. “It was my fault their big man hit that three and I had to do something.”
Green Bay’s 7-foot-1 center Alec Brown hit a 3-pointer with 11 seconds to go to give the Phoenix (2-1) a 69-68 lead.
“I was surprised they went for the three in that situation,” Pack coach David Carter said. “They were hurting us inside all night.”
Carter, whose Wolf Pack are now 2-1, said Burton was supposed to guard Brown on near-fatal 3-point shot.
“We were supposed to switch on defense if they kicked it back out,” Carter said. “He (Burton) just switched late.”
Carter chose not to take a timeout after Brown’s shot.
“I had one left,” he said. “I’ve seen coaches over think in that situation. Deonte’s been in that situation before. I trust him.”
Burton was actually in almost the same exact situation about 24 hours earlier. He converted a 3-point play with 14 seconds to play to give the Pack a 78-77 lead in an 80-77 win over Fullerton to open the World vision Classic on Friday.
“He does that more times than any player we’ve had since I’ve been here,” said Carter, who first joined the Pack as an assistant coach in 1999. “Maybe it’s because we’re playing so many close games.”
Burton, it seems, thrives under the pressure of close games in the final seconds.
“I just try to practice those shots everyday,” Burton said. “I just envision myself in those situations. I know with a young, inexperienced team like we have that we might be in a lot of situations like that this year.”
Burton, who finished with a game-high 19 points, said he had a good look at the basket on his final shot.
“I definitely had a good touch and a good feeling,” he said.
The play of center Devonte Elliott was a big reason why Burton had a chance to win the game in the final seconds. Elliott, who had just 11 points and five rebounds in 36 minutes combined over the Pack’s first two games, had 10 points and seven rebounds against Green Bay in 30 minutes. The points and minutes are career highs for the junior.
“Before the game I kind of changed up my game plan,” Elliott said. “I stayed by myself before the game and didn’t interact with my teammates at all. I just wanted to stay focused.”
Carter knew Elliott had a big challenge facing him with Green Bay’s Brown.
“I got on him about having a sense of urgency to start the game,” Carter said. “I told him, ‘It’s about going out there and starting right now.’ And he did that.”
Elliott scored his team’s first four points and had eight points and four rebounds as the Pack led 35-31 at halftime. Brown, who finished with 12 points on just 3-of-13 shooting, had just four points and two rebounds at the intermission.
“I usually talk to my teammates all the time before games but this time I just wanted to focus,” Elliott said. “Coach got on me about playing hard right at the start of games.”
Brown has struggled over Green Bay’s first three games, making just 10-of-40 shots from the field. The center, though, had averaged 11.8 points and 6.9 rebounds a game over his first two seasons. The 3-pointer he took with 11 seconds, though, was a bit out of character since he had just six in his career before Saturday.
“I never thought he’d take that shot,” Carter said.
The Pack led for much of the second half. Green Bay led just twice over the final 20 minutes and each time it came on a shot by Brown. His short jumper gave the Phoenix a 41-39 lead with 41-39 to play and his 3-pointer with 11 seconds left set up Burton’s heroics.
“We’re still trying to find our identity,” said Carter, whose Wolf Pack will host Southern Utah at 3:30 p.m. today at Lawlor Events Center. “We’re still getting beat on the board (39-34 by Green Bay) and we have to clean that up. But that’s just the sign of a young team. We’re still trying to find our way.”
Burton, though, always seems to be around to lead them.
“I think I almost had a heart attack,” joked Carter. “I didn’t even watch that last shot. I was looking away, waiting to hear the crowd cheer or moan.”