Nevada Wolf Pack

Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images

Friday’s College Basketball Recap: North Carolina outlasts Duke, Ayton stars and the drama continues at Memphis

Leave a comment


How good is Deandre Ayton?

The 7-foot-1 freshman put up 32 points and 14 rebounds as Arizona defeated UCLA, 78-67 in overtime. He made 13 of 16 shots and 5 of 6 from the line while also posting three assists and a pair of blocks and steals each.

Simply, he was dominant. And that’s something we need to talk more about.

There will be debates in draft rooms across the NBA about who to take No. 1, but Ayton continues to make his case that it should be a short conversation. Luka Doncic could very well be awesome, Marvin Bagley III is great and Michael Porter, Jr. is intriguing, but Ayton has put up huge numbers night in and night out for a team embroiled in chaos more often than not.

He was great again. And he’s the player of the day.


  • JORDAN DAVIS, Northern Colorado: Who cares what his numbers were. He did this. If you don’t click that link, you’re depriving yourself of one of life’s greatest gifts.
  • KYRON CARTWRIGHT, Providence: Had 15 points, six assists and drew a charge that might have cost Xavier its No. 1 seed.
  • LUKE MAYE, North Carolina: The senior had 17 points, 10 rebounds , four assists and three steals as the Tar Heels survived a late run by rival Duke to win a spot in the ACC title game.
  • MAKOL MAWIEN, Kansas State: The Wildcats lost to Kansas, but not because of Mawien, who had 29 points on 13 of 19 shooting.

BUBBLE BANTER: Everything that happened on the cut-line


Remember when Alabama lost five-straight to finish the year and entered the SEC tournament on the bubble? After Collin Sexton’s heroics Thursday and domination Friday, that seems like an awfully long time ago.

The Crimson Tide got 31 points and seven boards from Sexton and defeated rival Auburn, 81-63, to not only strengthen their NCAA tournament team, but to suddenly have a look of a team that should have top seeds running scared.

It’s amazing what a difference a couple of days in March can make.


There are plenty of candidates for this one given what a wildly entertaining day Friday was, but let’s give it to a game that was decidedly uncompetitive.

San Diego State 90, No. 22 Nevada 73. Final.

The Aztecs led by as many as 30 and just ran roughshod over a really good Wolf Pack team. All five SDSU starters scored in double figures and they shot 51.9 percent as a team. Now they’ve got a shot to return to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2015.

That’s good news for the Mountain West, which instantly just became a multi-bid league, but it’s really bad news for the teams hovering around the cut line.


Tubby Smith’s lawyer accused Penny Hardaway of sabotage.

Yeah, you read that right. the Memphis coach’s long-time attorney threw a pretty big allegation in Hardaway’s direction, positing that the potential Smith replacement and the leader of grassroots powerhouse Team Penny has been steering high-level Memphis kids away from their hometown team.

It’s quite the accusation, but it’s also kind of a self-own. Smith’s lawyer is essentially admitting that Memphis would maybe, probably, potentially be getting Memphis kids – highly-ranked Memphis kids – if Hardaway took over the program. Even if there is something underhanded going on – and there doesn’t appear to be any evidence right now there is – telling the world your guy is essentially getting out-recruited by the favored replacement isn’t exactly a winning strategy. Especially on a day that Memphis was, ya know, actually winning.


Bruce Pearl got mad.

The federal investigation into college basketball has been awfully quiet – aside from leaks detailing ASM Sports’ business plan – but the feds apparently aren’t done digging. The Raleigh News & Observer reported Friday that NC State has been served with a subpoena seeking documents.

Virginia remains a total buzzsaw.

Mississippi State’s Nick Weatherspoon suffered what looked to be a very scary injury when a Tennessee player inadvertently stepped on his head. The school later announced that the freshman, whose brother is a junior on the team, was awake and had feeling throughout his body.

San Diego St. cruises past No. 22 Nevada, 90-73, into final

Photo by David Becker/Getty Images
Leave a comment

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Devin Watson scored 20 points to lead San Diego State to a 90-73 blowout victory over No. 22 Nevada on Friday night in the Mountain West Conference semifinals.

The Aztecs, who haven’t won a tournament championship since 2011, will play in the title game for the fourth time in five years, and eighth time in 10 seasons.

Jalen McDaniels had his ninth double-double with 17 points and 12 rebounds.

San Diego State, which trailed for only 42 seconds in the game, faces the winner of Friday’s late semifinal between New Mexico and Utah State.

The Wolf Pack was led by Jordan Caroline, who scored 25 points and grabbed 10 rebounds before fouling out. Caleb Martin added 13 for Nevada, while Elijah Cooke had 10.

Nevada opened the game with a 3-pointer from Jordan Caroline. From there it was all San Diego State, which ending up shooting 61.3 percent (19 of 31) in the first half, including 7 of 15 (46.7) from 3-point range. The Aztecs converted eight Nevada turnovers into 14 points, while they outscored the Wolf Pack 14-3 with second-chance points.

And as the Aztecs were scorching the nets at one end, Nevada struggled to find its groove at the other, hitting just 10 of 26 (38.5 percent) from the floor, and shooting a bleak 27.3 percent (3 of 11) from long range. San Diego State’s 55 points in the first half set a Mountain West tournament record.

Another glaring difference early on, the Aztecs went to the free throw line 12 times, and hit 10, while Nevada split four free throws from the charity stripe over the first 20 minutes. The Aztecs finished the game 26 of 34 from the free throw line, while Nevada went 12-for-17.


San Diego State: The Aztecs continued their domination in the league’s postseason event, as they own the highest winning percentage in Mountain West tournament history. With its victory Friday night, San Diego State improved to 29-14 (.674).

Nevada: The Wolf Pack reserves came into the game averaging 17.6 points and 10.2 rebounds per game. Friday night, Nevada’s bench scored 14 points and grabbed 4 rebounds.


San Diego State: Earns the league’s automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.

Nevada: Despite the loss, expect the Wolf Pick to receive an at-large bid into the Big Dance.

Nevada lands another transfer in Corey Henson

(Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
Leave a comment

Nevada added another transfer on Monday evening, continuing a trend during Eric Musselman’s tenure as head coach.

Corey Henson, who spent his first three seasons at Wagner, announced via Twitter that he had decided to use his final season of eligibility in Reno.

Henson tweeted: “After much deliberation over the course of the summer, I decided last week that I no longer wish to continue my education and basketball career at Wagner College. While my time at Wagner was great, I feel like I needed a change to take the next step as a player and as a student. This past weekend, I reached out to Coach Musselman and Nevada as the program had shown a lot of interest in me earlier this summer when I opened up my recruitment. Upon seeing that they were still interested in bringing me on board, I knew it was a decision that I could not make on my own. After discussing everything with my parents and seeing the type of program Coach Musselman is putting together, I decided that Nevada was building something special that I wanted to be part of. I can’t wait to be a member of the Wolf Pack family!”

“This past weekend, I reached out to Coach Musselman and Nevada as the program had shown a lot of interest in me earlier this summer when I opened up my recruitment. Upon seeing that they were still interested in bringing me on board, I knew it was a decision that I could not make on my own. After discussing everything with my parents and seeing the type of program Coach Musselman is putting together, I decided that Nevada was building something special that I wanted to be part of. I can’t wait to be a member of the Wolf Pack family!”

The 6-foot-3 guard had initially decided in April to transfer but reversed that, announcing he’d return to Wagner in mid-July. He will have to sit out next season in accordance with NCAA transfer regulations. He will have one season of eligibility remaining beginning in the fall of 2018.

Henson has averaged double figures over the past two years, posting 14.6 points per game for the Seahawks during the 2016-17 season.

Currently, Nevada has 10 transfers on its 2017-18 roster. He joins transfers Nisré Zouzoua (Bryant), Tre’Shawn Thurman (Omaha), Darien Williams (St. John’s), Marquez Letcher-Ellis (Rice), Jazz Johnson (Portland), and Kendall Stephens (Purdue) as new additions to the Wolf Pack this season.

Nevada is spending this month on a foreign tour of Costa Rica.

Nevada lands Rice transfer Marquez Letcher-Ellis

Leave a comment

Transfers have become a trend for Nevada during the Eric Musselman era. Seven players on the 2017-18 roster began their collegiate career elsewhere. On Tuesday, that number increased to eight.

Marquez Letcher-Ellis, who played his first two years at Rice, joined the Wolf Pack, according to Jeff Goodman of ESPN. He will sit out next season due to NCAA transfer regulations but will have two years of eligibility remaining.

He averaged 7.7 points per game this past season, which was down from average double figures as a freshman. Letcher-Ellis left the program after Mike Rhoades accepted the head coaching job at VCU. Rice assistant Scott Pera was elevated to head coach.

Letcher-Ellis finds his new school days after Marcus Evans, one of the more sought after transfers, followed Rhoades to VCU. Egor Koulechov and Marcus Jackson, the other two leading scorers for the Owls, graduated and are eligible immediately. Jackson has since committed to UC Santa Barbara.

While Letcher-Ellis will be restricted to practice, he could play an integral role. The Wolf Pack could be ranked in the preseason, even if Cameron Oliver does not return. Jordan Caroline and Lindsey Drew both return while Caleb and Cody Martin (N.C. State) and Kendall Stephens (Purdue) join the program after sitting out last season. Letcher-Ellis, a versatile defender given his size and length, will be a valuable addition to the scout team.

NBC Sports ranks Nevada No. 25 in the 2017-18 preseason poll.

Player of the Week: Jordan Caroline, Nevada

(Credit: Marshall Saiz)

What Jordan Caroline did on Saturday night is almost beyond belief.

The 6-foot-6 Nevada forward went for 45 points, 13 boards, nine assists and five blocks, sparking a comeback from 25 points down with 11 minutes to play while hitting the game-winning three in overtime to give the Wolf Pack a 105-104 win at New Mexico.

That is the second-most points that anyone has scored in a game this season. It’s easily the most impressive statline that anyone has posted.

And it came in a game where Nevada erased the eighth-largest deficit a winning team has ever faced in the second half of a college game.

That’s not all, either. Caroline also went for 19 points and 11 boards as Nevada picked up a win over San Diego State, who suddenly looks destined to finish at the bottom of the Mountain West. That’s not a bad week for Caroline. It’s not a bad week for Nevada, either. Not only are they currently sitting in second place in the conference, just a game behind Boise State, but they’re doing so after their third-most talented player did all of this.

Watch out for Nevada. You’ve been warned.

(You can see all the highlights from the comeback here.)

RELATEDPlayer of the Week | Team of the Week | Five Things We Learned | Top 25

You can subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, Stitcher and Audioboom


  • Joel Berry II, North Carolina: Berry opened up the week with a career-high 31 points, hitting seven threes – including a number of critical jumpers down the stretch – as the Heels knocked off Clemson on the road. Berry followed that up with 19 points, five boards and five assists in a 51-point win (you read that right) over N.C. State in Chapel Hill.
  • Steve Vasturia, Notre Dame: The Irish won games at home against Clemson and Louisville this week, and Vasturia averaged 19.0 points in the two wins. He also scored critical baskets down the stretch in both, which includes the game-winner against the Cardinals.
  • John Gillon, Syracuse: In the last two games, Syracuse has played, essentially, a five-man rotation, and it seems that John Gillon is the biggest beneficiary. The new full-time point guard, Gillon has handed out 22 total assists and averaged 14.0 points in two wins, as the Orange bounced back from a blowout loss to Boston College.
  • Nigel Williams-Goss, Gonzaga: Williams-Goss had his best game at Gonzaga on Thursday, exploding for 36 points, 11 boards and six assists in a 95-80 win at San Francisco. The knock on this Zags team is that they don’t have a star, a go-to guy that commands the rock on big possessions. Could Williams-Goss end up being that guy?
  • Justin Patton, Creighton: There may not be a bigger breakout star in college hoops this season than Justin Patton, a redshirt freshman 7-footer who is playing his way into the NBA Draft. This was his best week yet, as he averaging 22.5 points, 7.5 boards, 2.5 assists and 2.0 blocks on 20-for-27 shooting in wins over St. John’s and Providence. Should I mention he can also hit threes?

Nevada lands Martin twins

Leave a comment

Eric Musselman keeps adding reinforcements to his roster. For the 2017-18 season.

Musselman and Nevada received commitments from N.C. State transfers and twin brothers Caleb and Cody Martin, according to multiple reports.

That brings Nevada’s sit-out transfer count for this upcoming season to four with Hallice Cooke (Iowa State) and Kendall Stephens (Purdue) already in the fold. Under NCAA transfer rules, the quartet will have to sit out the upcoming season before being eligible in 2017-18.

Caleb averaged 11.5 points, 4.7 rebounds and 1.4 assists while shooting 36 percent from deep while Cody put up 6.0 points, 4.4 rebounds and 2.3 assists, shooting 43 percent from beyond the arc.

The timing of having four sit-out transfers works well for the Wolf Pack given that two of the team’s three leading scorers from last year, D.J. Fenner (a senior) and Cameron Oliver (a sophomore), return while senior transfers Marcus Marshall (Missouri State) becomes eligible. Having those four experienced transfers begin playing in 2017-18 while all but two players from this upcoming team slated to return makes Nevada an interesting team, a year from now.