And then there were three.
When the sun rose on Saturday, Nevada was one of four remaining undefeated teams in college basketball with a 14-0 record after knocking off Utah State in its Mountain West opener. But the Wolf Pack’s undefeated record ended in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where Lobos handed Nevada an 85-58 loss.
Here’s how New Mexico beat Nevada.
Dominated the boards
New Mexico out-rebounded Nevada 47-37 and the Lobos grabbed 34 percent of their missed shots. Over the course of the entire season, that would rank as a top-40 offensive rebounding rate in the country, per kenpom.com.
The Lobos scored 12 second-chance points, including two on the following play that gave them their first double-digit lead of the game. After Vance Jackson jumped a passing lane to intercept a pass from Nevada’s Trey Porter, Jackson initiated the fast break and found teammate Dane Kuiper in transition.
Kuiper had the layup blocked by Nevada’s Caleb Martin but Jackson followed his teammate’s blocked shot, threw a head fake to get Nevada’s Cody Martin to jump and he took one dribble before going up for an easy layup.
Defensively, New Mexico also did a great job on the glass by limiting Nevada to just 10 offensive rebounds – only 23.3 percent of the Wolf Pack’s missed shots. Four of those 10 were team rebounds, meaning the ball was last touched by a New Mexico player before going out of bounds and the Lobos were able to set their defense before the Wolf Pack inbounded the ball.
Offensive rebounding is an area in which Nevada is vulnerable with just a 27.1 percent offensive rebounding rate this season that ranks 224th nationally.
New Mexico forward Carlton Bragg, a transfer from Kansas who’s playing in his first season with the Lobos, was dominant on the boards with a game-high 12 rebounds, including four offensive boards, and Vance Jackson also reached double digits with 10 rebounds.
New Mexico forced a turnover on nearly 20 percent of Nevada’s offensive possessions (14 turnovers), while the Lobos committed just nine. They had seven steals, including three by Vance Jackson, who earned game MVP honors from kenpom.com.
Jackson’s final stat line was 18 points on 7-of-11 shooting with three three-pointers, 10 rebounds, seven assists and three steals, as he flirted with a triple-double.
The aforementioned steal by Jackson – the first of his three – was set up by Cody Martin missing a free throw. Nevada’s Trey Porter grabbed the rebound and two New Mexico players trapped him, while Jackson denied Martin from getting the pass, as shown below.
Jackson then jumped the passing lane when Porter threw the pass.
Nevada ranks sixth nationally in offensive turnover percentage at just 14.1 percent but New Mexico forced the Wolf Pack into committing a turnover more than 33 percent more frequently than their usual rate.
Control the three-point line at both ends
New Mexico ranks in the top 75 nationally with a 36.6 three-point percentage as a team this season and the Lobos’ upset of Nevada didn’t even require a ridiculous three-point shooting night in terms of the number of made threes or three-point percentage. They were 11-of-29 (37.9%), which combined with Nevada’s 4-of-22 (18.2%) night, swung the three-point shooting advantage completely in favor of New Mexico.
Two of Nevada’s made threes were contested, off-balance attempts late in the shot clock, so even the Wolf Pack’s successful shots from deep weren’t necessarily great looks against New Mexico’s stout defense on Saturday night.
Here’s a look at two of Nevada’s four three-pointers.
Nevada’s Jazz Johnson bobbled a pass before he made the three shown below just before the end of the first half.
Meanwhile, there were threes like the one made by Vance Jackson that’s shown below that were a product of the Lobos’ ball movement and player movement to find holes in Nevada’s defense.
On the night, only one Nevada player, Jordan Caroline, scored in double figures, while the Wolf Pack’s other three players who average at least 10 points per game – Caleb Martin, Jazz Johnson and Cody Martin – combined for just 23 points on 5-of-27 shooting (2-of-12 from three).
New Mexico, on the other hand, benefited from the best game of Anthony Mathis’ career (27 points, six rebounds and five assists), while Vance Jackson recorded the second-most points and rebounds, along with career-highs in assists and steals.