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Utah State thumps Nevada at Lawlor (photos)

By Michael Smyth

The visiting Utah State Aggies handed the Nevada Wolf Pack their largest margin of defeat this season 78-49 in Mountain West Conference play Saturday night at Lawlor Events Center.

Coming off a tough loss at Colorado State, the Wolf Pack controlled much of the play for the first 30 minutes, but had a six-minute scoring drought in the second half to torpedo a promising effort.

The Aggies (12-9, 3-5 MW) came into Lawlor on a positive following a 19-point drubbing of San Diego State, their first win after four consecutive losses. It didn’t take long to show that the previous win against a quality opponent was no fluke.

Utah State took control of a close game midway through the first half and simply drubbed the Wolf Pack in all phases of the game on their home floor.

“I’m very frustrated. We spent a good couple days working on offense and defense, and that didn’t even look like our team,” said head coach Steve Alford.

“It was one of those nights where literally nothing went right,” Alford continued. “It was nowhere near the effort and concentration that we got at Colorado State. We just aren’t playing well at home, and I don’t know why.”

Wolfie searches the stat sheet for answers in Nevada’s 78-49 loss to Utah State at Lawlor Events Center on Jan. 29, 2022 (Mike Smyth / This is Reno)

The contest was a tight defensive battle for the first eight minutes. KJ Hymes’ dunk with 12:07 left tied the score at 15-15, and from there game simply went off the rails for Nevada.

Utah State erupted for 28-8 run to stretch the lead to 43-23 and would eventually dominate the Pack all the way to the break, outscoring them 30-12. Utah State led by 18 points at the half 45-27.

Hopes of a Wolf Pack comeback were quickly dashed by a 9-2 Utah State advantage in the first four minutes. The quick surge included a pair of dunks by the Aggies leading scorer Justin Bean who would finish with 12 points, five rebounds, four assists, two steals and two blocked shots.

Utah State’s lead hovered around 30 points as the game progressed and with 7:46 left Alford effectively waived the white flag, sitting out Grant Sherfield and emptying his bench.

The Aggies dominated points in the paint 34-24, three-pointers 30-6, points off turnovers 20-9, bench points 23-15, and rebounds 41-31. The last stat is especially telling considering Nevada out-rebounded the Aggies in the first half 18-13.

Utah State had six players in double figures and shot an even 50% from the field.

Nevada meanwhile shot a season-low 31% from the field and an anemic 2-13 from beyond the arc. Desmond Cambridge Jr. led Nevada with 12 points and seven rebounds, with Will Baker chipping in 11 points and five rebounds.

Will Baker was asked afterwards about the loss.

“We’ve just got to learn from what happened and we’ve got to learn how to fight better,” Baker said.

Next up for the Wolf Pack: Nevada heads out on a season-long three-game road trip with stops at UNLV, Fresno State and a rescheduled date at San Diego State before returning home to face Colorado State Feb. 8 at 8 p.m.

Notes

  • Nevada falls to 9-9 overall and 3-4 in Mountain West play.
  • The previous largest margin of defeat this season was a 27-point loss to North Dakota State.
  • Nevada scored a season-low 47 points. The previous low was 61 points at then sixth-ranked Kansas.
  • Nevada tied a season-low with nine assists, with Grant Sherfield accounting for five of them.
  • The Wolf pack falls to 1-3 at home in Mountain West play.
  • Warren Washington, who suffered a hand injury in the loss at Colorado State, did not play.
  • Grant Sherfield played through a foot injury.

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