We were waiting all season for the top-five-caliber Nevada team to show up. Ultimately, the team that could have been, never was, as the Wolf Pack fell in the First Round of the NCAA Tournament, 70-61, to Florida on Thursday.
The Gators move on to face either Michigan or Montana next, while a Nevada group that began the season ranked seventh in the AP Poll goes home disappointed.
Sure, Nevada’s final record 29-5 is great, but the Wolf Pack never quite looked like the team it was supposed to be. In the non-conference, it let inferior teams stay close, needing to gut out games against South Dakota State and Grand Canyon. In Mountain West play, it was throttled by New Mexico on the road and barely avoided scares from Boise State and Fresno State.
Florida simply outplayed the Wolf Pack for most of the game, opening to an 11-6 lead and not trailing again after the 12-minute mark of the first half. Then, in the final minutes, the Gators did just enough to hold onto the lead.
Nevada made a charge and held most of the momentum late in the game. The Wolf Pack trailed by as many as 18 but pulled to within two with 2:02 to play. They never got closer, however, and went without a field goal for the final 4:03, allowing Florida to slowly put the game out of reach. Nevada also made just one of its final 17 three-point attempts in an unusually poor offensive showing.
Cody Martin had 23 points to lead all scorers. Caleb Martin had 19, but made just two of his 10 three-point attempts. No other Nevada player scored more than seven. Kevarrius Hayes led Florida with 16 points.