The Nevada men’s basketball team took a total turnaround after a tough loss at the first game of the Crossover Classic. The Wolf Pack had a concise win against George Mason 88-69, making them 2-4 for the season.
Steve Alford, head coach, was pleased with the outcome after the team lost to South Dakota State 75-102.
“You get smacked around by thirty, twenty four hours later you win by twenty,” Alford said. “It’s a wild game.”
Alford seems to have a new plan of getting the players on the bench out on the court earlier in the first half of the games, perhaps to see who will take the role AJ Bramah had before he was released from the team. Freshman Jalen Weaver, and sophomores Deandre Henry and Alem Huseinovic are three players who saw more playtime. Weaver got four minutes of play time, Henry had 11 and Huseinovic had 14.
Huseinovic was able to rack up eight points, which are his first points of the season out of four games played. Weaver unfortunately did not gain any points, but is getting great experience as the only freshman getting playtime so far this season. In total, the bench added 26 points for the Wolf Pack.
Kenan Blackshear and Daniel Foster, who have each played in all six games of the tournament, stayed in the game for over 20 minutes. The amount of time Blackshear and Foster spent on the court was higher than starters Will Baker, 17 minutes and Warren Washington, 15 minutes.
In the post game press conference, Alford mentioned multiple times how great the bench did, but noted they still need development.
The team was switching up their defensive positioning, doing one-on-one at the beginning of their match against George Mason and then trying three-on-one later. These new strategies caused George Mason to have a low field goal percentage at 32.26 in the first half at 10-31. The Wolf Pack went 15-31 in field goals in the first half. They also had a perfect free throw ratio of 3-3 in the first half, and only missed one in the second half.
The three point shooting in the first half was tied at 20 percent, Nevada 3-15 and George Mason 4-20. Nevada popped off in the second half with a 53.85 percent in three pointer attempts at 7-13. They also increased their field goals to 15-26.
In the last couple minutes of the game, all Nevada starters were taken out and the bench was on the court. The players were able to sustain the lead and increase their bond while working with each other in game time situations.
The Wolf Pack kept a lead for the majority of the game and won 88-69.
Alford expressed that Desmond Cambridge Jr. and Grant Sherfield “shined like they need to shine,” but overall the team shared the ball, took good shots and defended well.
This was the first game without AJ Bramah, and Alford liked how the team responded to the situation. Going into the final game of the tournament, the focus is to continue to build on the small things.
“We have to build on just short increments of doing things well and we did that tonight,” Alford said. “And now we are going to face another opponent, tough opponent, that’s what’s been good about our schedule—we’ve had all really difficult opponents.”
Nevada played their final game of the tournament on Nov. 24 at 4 p.m. against the University of Washington on ESPN+.
Kelsey Middleton can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @kelsmiddleunr