New NBA venue, same slow start for the Nevada basketball team.
But just as it rallied out of an early hole to down No. 20-ranked Arizona State on Friday at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, No. 6 Nevada again dug out of a big self-created deficit Sunday afternoon to knock off Grand Canyon, 74-66, at Phoenix's Talking Stick Resort Arena.
The Wolf Pack failed to score on its first nine possessions, going 0-of-6 from the field with three turnovers, and was down 11-0 before it found the scoring column. The deficit was as large as 12 at one point, but Nevada did what it usually does, overcoming the big hole to score another victory. Nevada improved to 10-0, the best start in its Division I era, to remain one of nine unbeaten teams in the nation.
The victory completed a string of six straight games away from home in unblemished fashion. That included two games in Las Vegas, two in Los Angeles (in two different venues), one in Chicago and one in Phoenix. Nevada will return home Saturday when it faces South Dakota State, and it will do so still holding onto its perfect season, thanks largely to its defense and the free throw line.
After falling behind 14-2, Nevada went on a 21-5 run to take an advantage it never gave back against Grand Canyon (5-4), which was looking for its first win over a Top 25 team (it fell to 0-6 against such competition).
For the second straight game, Nevada struggled from three, making just 6-of-22 from beyond the arc (that's after a 3-of-18 performance against Arizona State). But it did get to the free throw line with regularity. The Wolf Pack made 24-of-29 free throws to Grand Canyon's 6-of-8 shooting from the stripe, a plus-18 edge that was the difference in the game.
Jordan Caroline got his usual double-double, scoring 22 points and grabbing 14 rebounds. He made more free throws (eight) than the Antelopes did as a team. Jazz Johnson added 19 points off the bench, hitting 3-of-4 threes and knocking down all eight of his free throws. Caleb Martin (13 points, 12 rebounds) and Cody Martin (12 points, four assists) both scored in double-figures. Jordan Brown (six points) and Tre'Shawn Thurman (two) completed the scoring for Nevada, which shot 43.1 percent from the field.
Grand Canyon made 10-of-21 3-pointers but couldn't do much inside the arc, making just 15-of-42 two-pointers (35.7 percent) while failing to get to the free throw line, where it had averaged more than 24 attempts per game. The Antelopes also turned the ball over 14 times.
Grand Canyon, which trailed by as many as seven in the second half, cut the deficit to 62-61 with 2 minutes, 55 seconds remaining after Alessandro Lever sank two free throws. But Nevada scored the game's next nine points to quell the challenge.
The Wolf Pack's 10-0 record is four wins shy of the best start in program history, which was 14-0 in 1951-52.
Check back to Nevada Sports Net later tonight for a full video recap from Phoenix. We’ll also have a full interview with Wolf Pack coach Eric Musselman on Sunday’s Wolf Pack All-Access show.