Green and Snyder score 20 apiece in 86-59 win over San Jose State | NevadaAppeal.com
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Green and Snyder score 20 apiece in 86-59 win over San Jose State

Jeremy Evans

RENO — The consensus amongst the Wolf Pack following their 86-59 win over San Jose State was they haven’t played a better game this season. The numbers tell the same story.

Terrance Green and Kirk Snyder both scored 20 points as Nevada recorded a season-high 23 assists as it picked up its largest Western Athletic Conference win of the season in front of 5,699 fans at Lawlor Events Center.

The win, which moved the Wolf Pack into a tie with Hawai’i for second place in the WAC standings, was also the 200th ever at Lawlor, which opened in 1983.

“This was probably the best offensive game we’ve had,” said guard Todd Okeson, who scored 16 points and made four 3-pointers. “We had everyone passing the ball and making shots. It’s always good to have home court. We lost a game we shouldn’t have against SMU. We weren’t going to give one up against San Jose State.”

The Wolf Pack, who lost in overtime to SMU on Saturday, shot 53 percent from the field against the Spartans, who were coming off a 79-67 upset of Hawai’i over the weekend. San Jose State turned the ball over 16 times compared with Nevada’s nine turnovers.

“It’s the best we’ve played all season,” said coach Trent Johnson, whose team has never beaten San Jose State at Lawlor since joining the WAC in 2000. “It’s the best we’ve passed the ball all season. The kids played well. I think the way we played offensively and defensively didn’t allow them to get into a rhythm.”

The Wolf Pack (9-8 overall, 4-3 WAC) went on 12-0 run toward the end of the first half to take a 36-21 lead. The Spartans (4-11, 1-5) made it 36-27 after a pair of Scott Sonnenberg free throws. But an acrobatic baseline drive by Green and then a behind-the-back pass from Jerry Petty to Okeson, who made any easy layup, gave Nevada a 42-29 halftime lead.

The Wolf Pack made 7-of-11 3-pointers in the first half. Okeson, Snyder and Green were already in double figures at halftime and Nevada had an assist to turnover ratio of 14-5.

“Our defense was everything,” Green said. “Sometimes we have a tendency to play good in the first half, then let teams crawl back into in the first five minutes (of the second half). We didn’t let that happen.”

After a Garry Hill-Thomas steal and dunk to start the second half, the Spartans cut Nevada’s lead under 10 points after Brandon Hawkins’ jumper made it 44-35. Then Nevada went on a 19-2 run to go up 63-37. Snyder scored 13 straight points during the run. Okeson’s 3-pointer with 8:50 left was his fourth of the game and put the Wolf Pack up by 28 points, 71-43.

“It was like they were leaving us open,” Okeson said. “I like to call them ‘horse shots.’ If nobody is on you, you gotta’ make ’em. I’ll hit any shot if I’m wide open.”

Okeson, who is fifth in the nation and leads the WAC in 3-point accuracy, converted 4-of-5 attempts against the Spartans. The rest of the team shot 6-of-13 from long range. Green was 4-of-8.

“When you shoot the ball well, the crowd is behind you and everything is clicking, it feels good,” Green said.

Nevada improved its home record to 7-1.

“We’ve been on the road the last couple of days and it’s fun to be back at home,” Snyder said. “Playing in front of the home crowd, that made shots for everybody. Our passes were where they needed to be. They (the Spartans) were just an extra step late. But we made our shots and that’s why they looked so good. If you don’t knock down the shots, it looks like you’re passing horrible.”

Jerry Petty dished out a team-high nine assists and added eight points in the 27-point win, the second largest of the season for Nevada. It beat Pacific by 29 points on Dec. 7. Keith Everage scored a season-high 17 points for the Spartans and Brandon Hawkins had 11.

With Fresno State leading the WAC at 6-2 after its 56-55 win over Hawai’i on Thursday, Saturday’s game between the Wolf Pack and the Rainbow Warriors will be for second place in the conference. Hawai’i is the defending WAC Tournament champions.

“For the first time this season, guys were hitting other guys in rhythm,’ Johnson said. “Guys were understanding where they’re supposed to be. We played with a level of confidence. I think we’re in a position now where we can respond to the challenge.”