It was nearly two years ago to the day.
January 7, 2017. Nevada trailed New Mexico in The Pit by 25 points.
As Eli Boettger of Mountain West Wire explained in this informative and thorough recollection of that unforgettable night in Albuquerque, everything changed for Nevada Wolf Pack college basketball as a result of that miraculous comeback.
Comeback Pack? Nevada Returns To The Pit Where It All Started https://t.co/erT7WWyUcS
— Eli Boettger (@boettger_eli) January 5, 2019
The great news for Nevada: Total trust has not only existed, but grown, in the face of in-game adversity. Nevada made big comebacks in each of its two NCAA Tournament victories over Texas and Cincinnati. Whenever the chips are down, the Pack hasn’t flinched… and moreover, crafted an uncanny track record of success forged in the fires of hardship.
Nevada college basketball took one night in New Mexico two years ago and turned it into a dependable capacity to develop resilience… and make the most of it. Reaching the Sweet 16 is a mammoth achievement for a program of Nevada’s stature in its location. UNLV is the Nevada-based program which is supposed to aspire to Final Fours, but the Pack has stolen the Rebels’ thunder and run with it.
Resilience carried the Wolf Pack this far… but two years after that seminal moment in The Pit, Musselman’s men returned to the A-B-Q… and got barbecued.
It was as though Nevada pushed its luck and wanted to celebrate its latest “Pit” stop with a second-straight 25-point comeback.
This time, that comeback didn’t occur. New Mexico 85, Nevada 58.
The moral of the story for the Wolf Pack — STOP STARTING GAMES SLOWLY, DARNIT! — isn’t hard to explain or identify.
What matters: Nevada now has to build a new story after this trip to New Mexico, just as it began to author a new narrative in January of 2017.
Now, the Wolf Pack must put a swift and decisive end to these early-game doldrums against opponents they should hammer. Now, the recollection of a special ability to dig out of trouble must be pushed to the back of the mind. The forefront of memory and awareness must focus on establishing quality, and from quality, renewed dominance.
This loss detracted from the quality of Nevada’s resume. The blowout dimension of the loss eroded Nevada’s eye-test position. NCAA Tournament safety isn’t an issue for this team, but if Nevada — a 7 seed in last season’s NCAA Tournament — is to get a better seed than that in 2019, it will indeed have to curb-stomp the rest of the Mountain West over these next two months. For a team with grand aspirations but no high-end wins to point to, this moment in Albuquerque needs to become the proverbial bucket of cold water which awakens a team to its potential.
Nevada turned a 25-point comeback in New Mexico into a moment of transformation and restoration. The Wolf Pack can achieve the same turnaround after losing by 27 in The Pit.
Life can turn in very mysterious ways, but there is no mystery surrounding Nevada’s next central task this season.
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