Nevada Wolf Pack basketball: South Regional in shambles after Pack’s comeback
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Nevada totally put the South Region in shambles with its miracle comeback on Sunday afternoon.
With the Pack’s 75-73 win, the first four seeds (Virginia, Cincinnati, Tennessee and Arizona) and No. 6 Miami are all out of the tournament.
Kentucky, the fifth seed, and Nevada at No. 7, are the highest seeds left in the tourney.
Nevada will now play Loyola of Chicago, the No. 11 seed, at 4 p.m. Pacific Thursday at Phillips Arena in Atlanta. Loyola knocked off Tennessee on Saturday, and Jordan Caroline said it won’t be an easy game.
“One of my best friends plays on that team,” Caroline said. “They are not a pushover otherwise they wouldn’t be in the Sweet 16. They have beaten two good teams. Once they get a lead they don’t give it up.”
TAKING CARE OF THE BALL
Despite playing against one of the best defensive teams in the nation, Nevada turned the ball over just two times. Twice, and that’s not a misprint.
“The thing that’s amazing, when you look back on this game, is just the fact that we played 40 minutes and had two turnovers against arguably one of the most aggressive, best defensive teams in the country.
“Kind of like the Texas game, eventually our pace of play won out, and we got that thing above 40 points in the second half, and I thought that was really important.”
Cincinnati coach Mick Cronin was asked about Nevada’s ability to maintain possession of the ball.
“They only average nine a game,” Cronin said. “Give them credit. Jordan Caroline is a small forward playing the 5. They don’t really play a big man, so they aren’t a team that turns the ball over. They are top-5 in turnover margin. So, it’s not a surprise they didn’t turn it over.”
SESSIONS IN THE HOUSE
Former Nevada star Ramon Sessions, who donated $1 million for the basketball practice facility on campus, was in the stands on Sunday.
Sessions started this season in the NBA with the New York Knicks, but was released. He signed two 10-day contracts with the Washington Wizards after John Wall was injured, and the team has opted to keep him the rest of the season.
“Unfortunately New York didn’t work out,” Sessions said at halftime of the Nevada game. “New York was able to call up guys from their G League team, and I was able to go to a playoff team.”
Sessions said he was hoping to get to Friday’s game, but wasn’t able to make it. He said he had the day off today and made the trip over.
“It was great seeing everybody,” said Sessions, who was part of the pep rally at the team hotel prior to the game. “I’ve been texting with Coach Muss all season.”
Sessions was disappointed with the start of the game, but felt that Nevada weathered the early storm and settled down midway through the first half. He said he has been following the team the entire season.
RECORD FOR KENDALL
Senior guard Kendall Stephens made three 3-point field goals to up his career total to 126 made 3-pointers, passing BYU standout Jimmer Fredette (124) for the most in Mountain West Conference history.
Stephens tied the mark with 10:13 left, cutting the lead to 65-48, and he broke the previous record a little more than two minutes later, cutting the lead to 65-53.
TYING A RECORD
The win was the 29th for Nevada, tying the 2006-07 team that compiled a 29-5 record and reached the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
Nevada has won nine of its last 11games.
Nevada was whistled for two technical, one each for Cody Martin and Musselman. He was asked if the technical was part of a strategy.
“I mean, I didn’t know that we were going to win the game when I got it,” Musselman said. “But I wanted it. So I’ll leave it at that.”
BY THE NUMBERS
Head coach Eric Musselman improved to 12-4 in postseason play and earned his second NCAA Tournament win (2-1)… Nevada improved to 7-7 all-time in NCAA Tournament games (eighth tournament appearance in school history)…Cody Martin had his eighth effort of 20 or more points … Caroline scored 13, his 32nd double-digit scoring effort of the year, matching Caleb Martin in that category … Hall, who is becoming Mr. March, was 6-for-8 shooting and scored 14 points, has scored in double digits in five of his last seven games.
BAD NIGHT FOR CINCINNATI
If you’re from Cincinnati, you had a bad day.
Nevada started the day with its great comeback to stun the No. 2 Bearcats in the South Region, and then a couple of hours later, No. 9 seed Florida State upset No. 1 Xavier, also a Cincinnati team, 75-70, in a West Regional game.