Returning to Reno after ending the 33-game home winning streak of nemesis Utah State, the Wolf Pack heightened the growing expectations of its season with a dominating 81-57 victory over San Jose State Thursday night. The win extended Nevada’s current win streak to 10 and it now has wins in 13 of its last 14 contests.
In Nevada coach David Carter’s opinion, the convincing win was a sign of maturity in his team.
“I think the guys are feeling very comfortable and confident in what we are doing,” Carter said. “I think our defense has allowed us to get some easy baskets, to have a good flow in the offensive end. I always talk about the guys, if you don’t shoot the ball, you have to defend and rebound, and I thought we did that.”
Nevada started the game off slow, allowing the Spartans to hang around for the first nine minutes of the opening half with the score 13-11 in favor of the Wolf Pack.
A 3-pointer from the top of the key by guard Jordan Finn sparked a 17-4 run that separated Nevada from the Spartans, bringing the score to 30-15 with 7:30 remaining before the intermission. The triple would also begin a trend for the Wolf Pack from downtown.
The run included four treys by the Pack, highlighted by a four-point play when guard Jerry Evans, Jr. hit a free throw after being fouled on a three. Nevada took a 39-26 lead into halftime.
Knocking down three buckets from beyond the arc in the first five minutes of the second half, Nevada made sure there would be no late game San Jose State heroics, pushing its advantage to 50-31.
“In the beginning, I thought we were shooting too quickly of threes,” Carter said. “I told the guys that you have to get your feet set and be ready to shoot the three, and I always talk about rhythm within the flow of the offense, so I thought we shot better shots as the game went on from the three-point line.”
With the large lead, the Wolf Pack coasted the remainder of the game to the win.
Taking a season-high 32 shots from three-point land, Nevada hit on half of its attempts, dropping in 16 treys, a school record. The Wolf Pack finished the night 31-of-57 (54.4 percent) from the field.
“We didn’t want to shoot that many threes, but they were falling, so we took them,” Nevada forward Olek Czyz said. “It was just within our flow of the game. If it’s in rhythm and within the flow of the game, I think it’s OK to take a three.”
Evans, Jr. led Nevada with 19 points, including converting 5-of-6 from three-point range.
“I kept shooting till I missed,” Evans, Jr. said. “That just happened to be later in the second half. I was just feeling it. Had a good week of practice, I guess you could say, and it carried over.”
The Wolf Pack also got a strong performance from Burton with 14 points and seven assists, along with guard Malik Story, who had 11 points. Czyz finished with 10 points and six rebounds.
San Jose State (6-10, 0-2 WAC) was led by guard James Kinney with 16 points. Forward Stephon Smith and guard D.J. Brown also contributed, chipping in 14 points and 12 points, respectively.
Nevada (13-3, 3-0 WAC) will look to stay perfect in conference play and keep its hot streak going when it faces Hawaii Saturday night at 7 p.m. at Lawlor Events Center.
“It’s definitely a good thing, but we can’t get content,” Burton said. “We just try to work hard every day in practice and look at our streak like we’re supposed to be here. We deserve it, we worked hard for it.”