RENO, Nev. (AP) — Nevada ought to have plenty to celebrate this Christmas, but coach Eric Musselman is bringing a sour mood into the holiday.
Caleb Martin and Jordan Caroline scored 19 points apiece, and Martin hit a 3-pointer with 45 seconds left to help No. 6 Nevada fend off Akron 68-62 on Saturday.
The Wolf Pack (12-0) continued a four-game stretch of poor 3-point shooting that has Musselman searching for answers.
“It’s not going to be a Christmas where I’m sitting around doing nothing,” he said. “Offensively, I have to help our team more. I feel like the Grinch, but it is what it is. We’re regressing big-time offensively, so I have to figure something out. … We just keep getting worse. We keep getting worse and worse and worse and worse and worse and worse and worse, and then we’ve become even more worse.”
Musselman admitted that was tough talk for one of seven undefeated teams in the nation.
Nevada missed its first 11 3-point attempts and went 8 of 24 from beyond the arc for the game. The Wolf Pack are 27 of 112 from 3-point range in their last four games.
Martin shot 7 of 18 from the field, including 4 of 11 from 3-point range.
“I just think I’m trying to focus and pinpoint my defense so much, I’m kind of forgetting how to shoot,” Martin said. “I’m trying to find a balance. … So many people, they want us to get to the rim. … If you go back and look, we aren’t taking bad 3s. They’re wide open. They are sort of bobbling in and out. They’re rimming in and out. … If we make four or five more of those (each game), nobody will be talking about those as bad shots.”
Jazz Johnson, out last week against South Dakota State because of a concussion, added 10 points off the bench for Nevada.
Jimond Ivey scored 15 points and Daniel Utomi added 14 for the Zips (7-5). Tyler Cheese scored seven points, all in the game’s final four minutes as Akron tried to rally. His layup got Akron within three points with 1:44 left, but the Zips couldn’t get closer.
Akron jumped out to a 20-11 lead with 5:47 left in the first half. But the Wolf Pack connected on four straight 3-point attempts, quickly erasing Akron’s biggest lead. Nevada led 28-25 at halftime.
Caroline, a transfer from Southern Illinois, went over 1,700 points in his collegiate career and 1,400 points at Nevada, moving into 12th on the Wolf Pack’s all-time scoring list.
Akron: The tough-luck Zips played the Wolf Pack tough in front of a hostile crowd of 10,825, but have now lost by a combined 18 points in their five defeats this season.
Nevada: The Wolf Pack, one of seven remaining undefeated teams in Division I, have one nonconference game remaining.
LONG TIME COMING
Nevada is two wins from tying its best start in program history. The Wolf Pack started 14-0 in 1951-1952.
Nevada’s first-half struggles continued. It was the fifth straight game in which Nevada has trailed by seven or more points.
Akron: The Zips head home after the holiday break for a Dec. 30 matchup against Carnegie Mellon.
Nevada: At Utah on Dec. 29. The Utes are 5-0 at home this season.
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