Nevada basketball drops first game in blowout loss at New Mexico

Jordan Caroline
Jordan Caroline, shown playing against Grand Canyon earlier this season, lost its first game of the season Saturday at New Mexico. (Nevada athletics)

There would be no Wolf Pack miracle in Albuquerque this time. And there will be no undefeated season for Nevada, either.

The No. 5/6-ranked Wolf Pack's unblemished record took its first hit of the 2018-19 season Saturday night, with the Wolf Pack dropping a 85-58 decision to New Mexico.

Playing at at The Pit for the first time since rallying out of a 25-point second-half hole in its last game there in January 2017, Nevada again dropped into a gigantic deficit. It wasn't able to rally to victory this time. Not even close.

The Wolf Pack (14-1, 1-1 Mountain West) had to settle for a tie of the best start to a season in school history with the 1951-52 team. Nevada was one of four unbeaten teams in the nation, that number being cut by one thanks to New Mexico (8-6, 2-0), which was looking for a season-changing win. The win was big enough Lobos fans stormed the court after the final buzzer sounded.

Nevada got off to a slow start and never recovered. The Wolf Pack trailed by as many as 15 points in the first half before Jazz Johnson's buzzer-beating 3-point to end the half cut the deficit to 12, which tied Nevada's largest hole at intermission this season (it also trailed by 12 points against Arizona State before coming back to win).

But New Mexico continued to widen the gap in the second half, pushing its advantage to as many as 29 points with a couple of minutes left to play.

Nevada's issues were copious. The Wolf Pack turned the ball over 14 times, made only 16-of-27 free throws and shot just 33.3 percent from the field, including 4-of-22 from three. New Mexico's zone defense, a scheme it turned to four games ago, stifled a Wolf Pack offense that has struggled in several games this season.

The Wolf Pack's leading scorer, Caleb Martin, missed his first seven field-goal attempts and finished with just eight points on 2-of-14 shooting, his second straight game being held in single-figures. Jordan Caroline paced Nevada with 17 points and eight rebounds. No other Nevada player reached double-figures.

For New Mexico, Anthony Mathis tallied a career-high 27 points, six rebounds and five assists. Vance Jackson (18) and Makuach Maluach (14) also reached double figures. The Lobos shot 45.6 percent for the game, including 11-of-29 from three.

Nevada, which had beaten New Mexico in four straight games, returns to action Wednesday at home against MW bottom-feeder San Jose State (3-10, 0-1).

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