March Madness: Nevada completes 14-point comeback vs. Texas

By Alex Butler  |  March 17, 2018 at 7:30 AM
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March 17 (UPI) -- Nevada slipped by Texas Friday in the first round of the 2018 NCAA Division I men's basketball tournament, coming back from a 14-point deficit.

The Longhorns used a 9-0 run to earn a 19-10 lead about eight minutes into the game at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tenn.

The No. 7 seed Wolf Pack got back within range of the No. 10 Longhorns, but missed nine shots in a row during a cold stretch in the first half. The Longhorns pushed the lead to 12 points on a 3-pointer from Jacob Young at the end of the first frame and took a 68-58 edge into the locker room at the break.

Longhorns guard Matt Coleman pushed the lead to 14-points on a breakaway layup just 1:20 into the second stanza.

Then, the Wolf Pack had a comeback in mind.

Senior guard Kendall Stephens hit a 3-pointer, cutting the Texas lead to 10 points with 15:28 remaining. Sophomore guard Josh Hall cut the lead to eight points on the next possession. Stephens hit another 3-pointer at the 13:25 mark, cutting the Longhorns' lead to four points.

Texas star freshman Mohamed Bamba dominated the paint in the second half, but the Wolf Pack kept pace with solid shooting and smooth ball movement.

Stephens hit another huge shot with 6:36 remaining, when he put in a layup and took a foul. He made the resulting free throw, cutting the Longhorns' lead to 56-55.

Bamba was forced to the bench as he dealt with foul trouble down the stretch in regulation, speeding up the pace of the game.

Texas took possession with a 66-65 lead and crossed half court with about a minute remaining in the game, before increasing its lead to 68-65. Jordan Caroline put in a layup to get the Wolf Pack close again.

The Wolf Pack got the ball back and attempted to take the lead on another Caroline layup, but Bamba denied the offering. The Texas star picked up his final foul on Caroline's next shot with 3.8 seconds remaining.

Caroline made a free throw to tie the game and force overtime.

The Longhorns and Wolf Pack traded baskets early in the overtime period before Caleb Martin gave the Wolf Pack a 78-77 lead with 2:29 remaining. Nevada would not give up the late lead.

Martin hit another 3-pointer less than a minute later to push the Wolf Pack lead to four points. Nevada made its free throws in the final seconds to put the tournament victory on ice.

"I thought the second half we had to play at a faster pace," Wolf Pack coach Eric Musselman told reporters after the game. "I thought that Texas and coach Smart did a phenomenal job of controlling the tempo for those first 30 minutes and then eventually we started knocking down some three balls and then once we started driving the ball a little bit more in the second half, I thought that opened up our three ball."

"I couldn't be prouder of the team. Obviously the size advantage that they had inside on the backboards, we did a much better job in the second half of scrapping around to try to get loose balls."

Kerwin Roach II led all scorers with 26 points in the loss. Matt Coleman had 25 points for the Longhorns. Bamba had 13 points and 14 rebounds for Texas.

"Across the board we just have guys that have played in hostile environments. We've been there before," Stephens told reporters. "So we know that all we need is a chance. We are confident that once we get back down the court, that we are able to score effectively and that's what we did."

"We just gotta tighten up defensively toward the end and that's what we were able to do, get more stops than they did. And we made more plays than they did down the stretch. But it was a tough game. You have to give credit to Texas. They made it tough."

Stephens had a team-high 22 points for the Wolf Pack. Martin had 18 points, 10 rebounds and five assists in the win.

Nevada battles Cincinnati in the second round on Sunday in Nashville.

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