To close out their four-game homestand, Nevada men’s basketball split their final two home games.
Nov. 12 vs UTA
Junior guard Jalen Harris’ second-half surge propelled Nevada men’s basketball to an 80-73 victory over Texas-Arlington on Tuesday, Nov. 12.
Harris missed Nevada’s contest against Loyola Marymount battling a right foot sprain. He notched a team-high 24 points—including 20 second-half points—on 6-18 shooting over 26 minutes against the Mavericks.
The 6-foot-5-inch guard utilized his athleticism on the glass, hauling in a career-high nine rebounds with two steals.
Harris, a native of Duncanville, Texas, was very familiar with Texas-Arlington and its coaching staff.
“UTA is a good team. That’s where I’m from just a couple minutes down the road,” Harris said. “I know the players and the coaching staff well … for us to come out with that win at home is a good feeling.”
Nevada shot 46.6 percent from the floor. The Wolf Pack shot 10-21 collectively from the three-point line—the Pack’s best mark of the season.
The Pack struggled from the free-throw line, shooting 53.6 percent on 30 attempts.
Three players reached double figures. Nisré Zouzoua had a Nevada career-high 16 points on 6-8 shooting and 3-5 from deep. Jazz Johnson tallied 15 points and went 3-6 from beyond the arc.
Lindsey Drew totaled seven points, eight rebounds and a team-high three steals. The 6-foot-4-inch guard was awarded the Mountain West Player of the Week last week for averaging 27.0 points, 7.5 rebounds and 7.5 assists per game over the Pack’s first two match-ups.
UTA shot 34.4 percent from the floor, including 11-34 from beyond the arc. Radshad Davis had a team-high 14 points, with 5-12 shooting from the floor.
Preseason All-Sun Belt nominee Brian Warren was held to four points on 1-11 shooting.
Nevada recorded a season-high 16 turnovers. The sloppiness with the ball fueled 18 points off turnovers for UTA.
“Early in the season, you’re seeing a lot of teams do that but we haven’t done that yet,” head coach Steve Alford said.
Two thunderous dunks by Harris gave Nevada a 7-0 advantage early, which brought a roar from the 7,504 Lawlor crowd in the opening minutes of the contest.
To close out the half, Johnson hit a three-point basket, which extended the lead to 32-22, prompting a UTA timeout. The Mavericks closed the half strong, going on an 8-2 run to cut the halftime deficit to 38-35.
Back-to-back threes by Jabari Narcis put UTA ahead 41-40 to open the second half. Both teams traded baskets over the final 20 minutes. Drew’s layup put the Wolf Pack up 44-43. Nevada did not trail the remainder of the game.
Drew’s three-pointer extended Nevada’s advantage to 60-51. The Mavericks cut the lead to 75-71 with 54 seconds remaining, but the Pack closed it out at the free-throw line.
Tuesday’s win moves Nevada to 2-1 on the season.
Nov. 16 vs USC
A stout offensive effort from Johnson was not enough for Nevada men’s basketball, as they fell 76-66 to USC.
Johnson scored a season-high 26 points with a Nevada career-high six threes off the bench. The senior guard has not had a 25-point outing since March 5, 2019, versus Air Force.
“That’s always my kind of role no matter where I’m at,” he said. “I try to bring that energy or spark to the team. Tonight, I happened to do that but it wasn’t enough, so we need to go back to [the] drawing board.”
Tuesday’s loss drops Nevada to 2-2 on the season, its worst four-game start since the 2014-15 season.
Nevada shot 33.3 percent from the field and 31.4 percent from deep. The Pack had a season-high 36 three-point attempts, two away from tying the school record that was set in 1989 versus Weber State.
The Wolf Pack shot 7-30 in the second half, its worst mark for a half this season.
“I thought we took bad shots,” Alford said. “Of our four games, we took more bad shots in this game and that led to transition play… We know our offense is something that is in the making and has to continue to get better.”
Johnson and Drew were the only players to eclipse double-digits for the Wolf Pack. Drew had 13 points on 4-10 shooting, including 3-7 behind the arc. The reigning MWC player of the week added six rebounds and five assists to his nightly tally.
USC shot 44.6 percent from the floor and 27.8 percent from deep. Nick Rokocevic led the Trojans with 24 points and 11 rebounds for his second double-double this season. Daniel Utomi added 12 points and four rebounds.
The Trojans’ size took advantage on the glass and in the paint. They outrebounded Nevada 42-37 on the glass and outscored the Pack 42-10 in the paint.
“We just got beat too badly in the paint,” Alford said. “We did not have any answer for around the rim. They got easy baskets in the paint, we didn’t. I thought that was the difference.
USC jumped out to an early 13-5 advantage, prompting a Nevada timeout. USC closed the final nine minutes on a 22-14 run to take a 40-35 lead.
Utomi’s layup increased the Trojan lead to 54-46 with 13:20 remaining. Johnson’s second four-point play of the game cut the lead to 56-52, bringing the 9,833 fans to their feet.
Rakocevic’s tip-in put USC ahead 74-62 with 2:34 remaining, as the Pack wasn’t able to muster enough points to capture the victory.
Nevada hits the road for the first time this season, taking on the Davidson Wildcats on Tuesday, Nov. 19.
Matt Hanifan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @SagebrushSports.