Juan Antonio Labreche-AP Photo

The Wolf of Virginia Street ~ WHAT?!?!!!

WHAT?! HOW?! WHY?! IS THIS REAL LIFE, YOU GUYS? HOW CAN I EVEN...? SERIOUSLY, WHAT?!

The Bullet Points

  • Yeah, I know what all of you are thinking and hoping I start talking about here, but there was, in fact, another game earlier in the week. And it was plenty entertaining to get its due without being overshadowed by its counterpart below. In an event that was five years in the making — eighteen, if you’re going back to the last Wolf Pack victory in the series — Nevada finally beat San Diego State in basketball 72-69 on Wednesday. With both teams short-handed and in dire need of a win, it was the Pack’s home crowd and dominance on the boards that helped snap a seven game losing streak to the Aztecs. Double-doubles from Caroline and Oliver carried the team through what amounted to a 6-player rotation. This left them visibly tired while the Aztecs mounted one final comeback in the waning minutes that came up uncomfortably short.

  • And it’s funny that I mention a final comeback in the waning minutes of a basketball game, because that’s what brings us to last week’s main event. I regret to inform you that I did, in fact, turn the game off and start driving home with about 3 minutes left in regulation. I couldn’t even listen to the radio, on a count of being too disappointed. Cue “The Price Is Right” failure horns. But I've watched the replay twice since then. And I did stick around to the very end of the football team’s win over Utah State back in November, so let’s call it even, shall we? Anyway, enough throat-clearing…

  • Defying conventional description even now, a day and a half after the final buzzer sounded, Nevada escaped The Pit in Albuquerque with a once-in-a-lifetime 105-104 overtime victory. After falling behind by 25 points with 11 minutes remaining in regulation, the Pack continued to find themselves down by similarly absurd margins: 19 points with 4:27 left, 14 points with 1:15 left, 11 points with a minute left, and 9 points with 49 seconds left. Each of those scenarios had absolutely no business ending in a Wolf Pack victory, and none of them factored in falling behind again in overtime, much less there even being an overtime. Yet, here we are. It’s all on tape, but even watching the replay multiple times somehow still doesn’t quite do it justice. It's like the sports equivalent of an out-of-body experience, never quite tangible or easily explained to others. How did it happen? Or rather, how did it happen in a way that doesn't involve the whole team imbibing a made-up magical substance? We could start and end that answer with Jordan Caroline, and there wouldn’t be much argument. The sophomore’s night of human hyperbole finished with a superhuman final total of 45 points and 13 rebounds, but it doesn’t stop there. It can’t stop there. You’ve got to go to Marcus Marshall’s cold-blooded success from distance, and Devearl Ramsey’s rapid maturation, and Charlie Tooley — CHARLIE TOOLEY — calmly doing his part out of nowhere. In all, the Wolf Pack made all seven of their final three-point attempts, including six in the last 70 seconds of regulation. The last two contested bank shots, in particular, seemingly dared the basketball gods to cut their luck short. But they continued to oblige, with New Mexico missing just enough free throws to keep the last light of hope flickering. Before the night was over, two Nevada players responsible for a third of the team’s points fouled out, because it was that kind of game, and of course they did. When a man with Eric Musselman’s body of work calls it “the greatest game [he’s] ever been a part of,” the meaning should be apparent. Matt Clapp over at The Comeback did an excellent breakdown of the final stretch (complete with video clips) that you can watch and re-watch and re-watch here.

  • With all of the records the Pack rewrote on Saturday night, it’s easy to relegate the impact of the actual win on their chase for a title to that of an afterthought. The game itself was wholly singular, and unlike anything else we will likely ever see again for a long time. Its effect at this time, however, is that it kept the Pack right in the thick of a race that’s already produced its share of surprises after two weeks of action. Boise State could easily be 2-2, and they currently sit in first place at 4-0. Nevada could easily be 1-3 — and should be 2-2, by all rights — yet they’re right behind the Broncos at 3-1. After a week of decompression and rest that couldn’t have come at a more perfect time, the Pack will hit the road once more for an afternoon game in Laramie, Wyoming. While the Cowboys have taken a hit in prestige since putting the fear of God into USC last month, they’re still plenty capable of beating Nevada at a venue where they’ve done plenty of that in recent memory. The Pack can equal their road win total from last season with another victory, and even in this watered down league, beating the home court advantage can get you a mile high and louder than…well, you know.

The Beer

Brew Rebellion John Paul Jones Chocolate Strawberry Stout (San Bernardino, California) ~ Depending on when and where in northern Nevada you’re reading this column, there’s a pretty good chance you might be (quite literally) underwater right now. On that note, being stuck in your house during bad weather is a good excuse to crack open something fancy that you’ve been saving. That’s where I found myself last Friday night: confined to home, with snow falling in Sparks, and me busting out a fancy wax-sealed bottle I'd picked up at Liberty Food & Wine on Sierra Street awhile back. It poured a deep black-brown with a luxuriously thick head, smelling of chocolate and roasted malts — my kind of stout. It tasted of those same chocolate malts with a faint hint of strawberry at the end, and went down a little chewy, like chocolate milk. The strawberry flavor could’ve been a little bit stronger, and I found the whole thing to be…lacking. While not a bad bottle, it was somewhere in the middle of all the different stouts I’ve tried: not great, not terrible, just OK. At least at 10.1% ABV, it was strong. I give it three tipsy Wolfies out of five.

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