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Nevada basketball closes non-conference play with a W

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Junior center Will Baker took advantage of some mismatches inside, notching a perfect nine-for-nine from the field and four-of-four from the line, while finishing with a team-high 23 points as Nevada cruised to a 78-66 victory over the Norfolk State Spartans on Wednesday afternoon at Lawlor Events Center.

Baker also added eight rebounds to compliment Jarod Lucas’ 17 points, Tre’ Coleman’s eight assists, and Darrion Williams leading all players on the glass with 11 boards.

Nevada moved to 10-3 while Norfolk State dropped to 9-5.

A win is a win, but the focus for the Nevada Wolf Pack Men’s basketball program in 2022-23 seems to be holding themselves to a higher standard. Despite the 64-56 victory over U.C. San Diego in their last contest, the takeaway was about what a lackluster effort it had been.

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Kenan Blackshear races downcourt in Nevada’s 78-66 victory vs Norfolk State at Lawlor Events Center on 12.21.22 (Michael Smyth / This is Reno)

In their final non-conference game Nevada appeared determined to come out of the locker room prepared to establish their game from the opening tip. The Wolf Pack avoided a repeat performance of seven days ago, producing an 8-0 run off of a pair of Jarod Lucas threes in the first two-and-a-half minutes and never looked back.

Head coach Steve Alford and his staff have emphasized a defense-first approach all season and the team thus far seems to have fully bought in. More often than not, the Spartans were forced to use all 30 seconds on the shot clock to find some kind of open look, with mostly minimal success.

Midway through the opening half the Wolf Pack was in control 21-9 and it didn’t really feel that close.

Norfolk State senior guard Joe Bryant Jr., the lone bright spot for the Spartans who would finish with a game-high 25 points, led a push to get the visitors within seven with 6:59 left in the half.

Nevada would immediately respond with a pair three-pointers from directly in front of the Spartan bench by freshman guard Trey Pettigrew, sandwiched around a Will Baker layup and Nevada quickly rebuilt its advantage to 32-17.

The teams would trade baskets the rest of the half, leaving Nevada comfortably ahead 39-23 at the break.

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Freshman forward Darrion Williams hauled down a game-high 11 rebounds in Nevada’s 78-66 victory vs Norfolk State at Lawlor Events Center on 12.21.22 (Michael Smyth / This is Reno)

Nevada would be outscored on the second half 39-43, primarily due to a 7-0 Norfolk State run to end the game, but the Wolf Pack were never threatened.

Next up: The Wolf Pack begins its Mountain West Conference schedule at Lawlor Events Center, hosting Boise State on Wednesday, Dec. 28 at 7 p.m.

Notes:

  • Both teams shot 49% from the field and 80% from the line, but Nevada held the edge in made three-pointers 8-4 and made free throws 18-8.
  • Nevada dished out 21 assists on 26 made baskets.
  • The Wolf Pack had 22 free throw attempts to the Spartans’ 10.
  • The Wolf Pack forced 12 turnovers and only committed seven.
  • Nevada outrebounded Norfolk State 31-28.
  • Freshman guard Snookie Wigington saw his first action of the season after suffering an injury in Fall camp.
  • No bats were spotted, but the first 10 minutes of the game were played with one-quarter of the floor-illumination lights not yet tuned on.

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Michael Smyth
Michael Smyth
Michael Smyth is a writer and photographer who moved to Reno from the Bay Area in 2007. Michael retired from a corporate road-warrior sales career in 2017 where he wrote freelance small-venue music reviews on the side to keep his sanity on the road. When he isn't covering a concert or sporting event he might be found concocting a salsa recipe, throwing barbless flies in search of trout, or recapturing the skip-and-stop wedge shot of his youth.

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