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Beginning with that win over Kansas, Nevada won 102 of its next 126 games. And although subsequent Wolf Pack teams might have had more talent Carter said just that the 2003 04 team goes down in history as Nevada's greatest of all time, having finished 25 9 and advancing to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament. Prior to that season, the Wolf Pack had never won an NCAA Tournament game (0 2).
"Connecticut was probably the best team that we had faced together in my four years," Hill Thomas said. "I don't know if we were ready for that type of spotlight. Once they beat us, we looked around the locker room and thought, 'Hey, we're not that far off. We can compete with them, given another chance.' Then it was Kansas and it was, like, 'Here we go again.' That's a very rare opportunity, especially for a school like Nevada. Coach (Johnson) said, 'Here's your chance to put the school on the map.' It was just the first step of a big season for us."
The season ended six days after the Gonzaga win when Nevada lost to No. 14 Georgia Tech 72 67.
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two teams here, in 1999 2000 and 2000 01, lost 20 and 18 games respectively. The following year, the Wolf Pack went 17 13 and tied for fifth in the WAC. In 2002 03, Nevada went 18 14, tied for third in the WAC and reached the National Invitation Tournament. It was just the second postseason berth for the Wolf Pack since 1985 86 (1997 NIT).
Nevada raced out to a 40 17 lead over Bill Self's Jayhawks and then withstood a Kansas rally that cut the lead to 13 midway through the second half. When the buzzer sounded, Nevada had shocked the college basketball world, as much for the dominance of the win as for the 75 61 final score.
"I remember going into halftime up 20 points (40 20) kind of really surprised, but Monster Fendi Bag Replica
Ten years ago today they learned what they were capable of. Ten years ago today, they laid the foundation for the greatest period in Wolf Pack basketball history.
had 29 points, nine rebounds and four assists. Okeson had 12 points, and Kevinn Pinkney added 10 points and seven rebounds. One of the largest crowds in Lawlor history (10,983) witnessed what at the time was arguably the greatest Nevada victory in any sport in the modern era.
"I remember how prepared we were," said Garry Hill Thomas, a graduate assistant on the Wolf Pack staff who was a senior, starting guard in 2003 04. "That always stuck in my mind, like, we were so ready. We were so tired of hearing about them."
10 years ago today, Nevada beat No. 6 Kansasand launched a half decade of dominance
"It was huge," Carter said of the importance of the Kansas win. "Up until that point . we were kind of up and down. And I thought that game showed what our team was really made of. We didn't turn the corner that game. We had a couple games in conference where we were a little up and down, too, so it didn't click (that day). It just showed we could play with anyone in the country."
"And Todd Okeson, I thought he improved that year. The year before he would turn the ball over. He got in the weight room, shot the ball well. Those two guys really changed the dynamics of that team because of their toughness and their willingness to sacrifice."
The players relied on that experience and the experience from the loss to UConn when they reached postseason play. A victory against Michigan State in the opener, Nevada's first ever NCAA Tournament win, set up a game against second seeded and second ranked Gonzaga. It was the Wolf Pack's third game against a top 10 team. Five Wolf Pack players reached double digits in scoring in a 91 72 upset of the Bulldogs, putting Nevada in the Sweet 16.
2003 04 had gotten off to an inconsistent start, though. The Wolf Pack was just a week removed from a 2 3 record when it hosted Kansas, ranked sixth in the AP Poll and seventh in the Coaches Poll, at Lawlor Events Center on Dec. 21, 2003. One of Kansas' starters was Reno High graduate David Padgett.
thinking, 'We've got 20 more minutes.'"
"It's pretty hard for me personally to imagine us under the circumstances playing better," Johnson said after the game. "I thought we put on a pretty good performance in front of some pretty good enthusiastic and deserving fans."
"To me, (what stands out is) beating a great team and beating them soundly," said Todd Okeson, an assistant coach at Southern Utah who was the Wolf Pack's senior point guard that season. "It wasn't like it was kind of lucky. .
The signs had been there. It was clear that coach Trent Johnson was creating a program that could be successful, but it had not yet been realized.
Carter credited Okeson and Hill Thomas, the only two senior starters, for being selfless and leading the charge midway through the season. Hill Thomas, for example, saw his scoring average drop from 15.6 per game as a sophomore to 10.6 as a junior and then 9.8 as a senior as Snyder became the team's offensive focal point and Hill Thomas was asked to be more of a defender.
"That team wasn't always together at the start of the year," Carter said. "We had some guys who had their own agendas. . I think the real leaders were the seniors like Todd Okeson and Garry Hill Thomas. You look at Garry Hill Thomas, he started four years for us, and now he's taking a back seat. . Now you've got him Miu Miu Eyewear 2017 taking on more of a role as a defender than a scorer, and that's hard. .
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"In the locker room, I remember us all crying," Hill Thomas said. "What sticks in my head was we weren't crying because we lost. We were crying because the fun was over."
Nevada opened WAC play that year at 3 3 (and 9 6 overall), but then won 14 of 16, including a 66 60 victory over co regular season champion UTEP in the WAC Tournament championship game at Fresno, Calif.
The members of the 2003 04 Nevada basketball team knew they had something special. As the first month of the season unfolded as they gave No. 1 Connecticut a run for its money in a 93 79 loss and then two weeks later lost by 16 to a Portland team that would finish 11 17 they just didn't know how special.
"We knew we had potential," said current coach David Carter, who was an assistant at Nevada from 1999 to 2009. "You always have potential when you look at it on paper."
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