The Nevada Wolf Pack Men’s basketball team faced of against public enemy no. 1, the UNLV Runnin’ Rebels after six days off. A quiet for week players was ramped up as media outlets from Las Vegas refused to call Nevada by the proper name — adding fuel to an already fiery rivalry. The rest seemed to help a Wolf Pack team that had already won five straight games coming into the Silver State Series — formerly the Governor’s Series — matchup. With a win, the Rebels would move into a tie with Nevada atop the Mountain West standings.
The Wolf Pack had no intentions of letting that happen. Nevada took a 2-0 lead and left their foot on the gas pedal. Caleb Martin and Jordan Caroline led the way in the scoring department as always both going into halftime with double digit point totals.
Nevada ended the first half with a 22-point lead over their rival from the South. The Rebels were held without a made three-point attempt in the first half, putting their record three-point streak in jeopardy — coming into the game UNLV had made at least one three pointer in every game since Jan. 24, 1987.
The energy surrounding the game entering the night seemed to be sucked out of the crowd as the second half went much like the first. UNLV extended their three-point streak, but it was a case of too little, too late. The only positive the Rebels could take after the embarrassing loss is out scoring the Pack 44-39 in the second half.
The Wolf Pack shot an impressive 87.5 percent from the free throw line draining 28 of their 32 free throw attempts. Every Nevada player that attempted at least one shot, also shot at least one free throw in the game. The team was sloppy handling the ball for their own standards. Nevada had only 14 assists while racking up 11 turnovers.
The Wolf Pack seemed to have a field day as the night was filled with memorable dunks from Caroline and Trey Porter. The Martins also got in on the action as Caleb Martin had a first half, coast-to-coast dunk and followed it up receiving an alley oop from his brother in the second half — Martin’s first dunk was number four on the SportsCenter Top 10 that night.
Nevada would have two days rest before facing off against Boise State in a matinee game. In their second game of the week, the Wolf Pack dominated the Broncos in front of a sold out crowd at Lawlor Events Center. Nevada led took a 4-3 lead with just under three minutes gone in the half and never looked back — leading for every second of the the final 37:17 of the game.
The Broncos kept the game close for a majority of the first half, until the Pack went on a 9-2 run to end the first half with a 41-30 lead. Nevada continued their trademark second half success, never letting the Broncos get within nine points of the lead. A Caleb Martin three pointer with 1:08 left in the game extended the Nevada lead to a game-high 22 points, before a Boise State layup cut the lead back down to 20 leading to the final 93-73 score.
Nevada had an efficient night on the offensive end of the court. The Wolf Pack shot 46.4 percent from beyond the arc on 28 shots, while posting shooting 55.6 percent from the floor overall. The Wolf Pack had 22 assists — a season hgh — on 35 made field goals, while only turning the ball over a season-low four time.
With safe lead and core players in foul trouble for the Wolf Pack, Eric Musselman decided not to rest his three best players. Jordan Caroline recorded yet another double double with a 13 point, 13 rebound night, while playing 19 of the 20 minutes in the second half. Caroline might have played the entirety of the half, but fouled out with 1:24 left in the game. Both of the Martin twins reached milestones in the win. Cody Martin scored his 1,000th career point, while scoring a season high 21 points on an efficient 8-11 shooting night. Caleb Martin played the entire second half en route to his second 30-point game of the season. His point total moved him into a tie for 23rd place on Nevada’s all-time scoring list with Marqueze Coleman.
For the rest of the Pack, both Jazz Johnson and Tre’Shawn Thurman finished with double digit point totals. Johnson seems to be heating back up after a rough stretch of games from three-point range knocking down two three pointers in a 12-point outing. Tre’Shawn Thurman shot 50 percent from the field and downtown, adding three assists.
In arguably their best three-game stretch this season, the Wolf Pack average 93 points a game with a margin of victory 25.6 points.
The Wolf Pack look to continue their winning ways against Colorado State Wednesday, Feb. 6, at 7 p.m. The Rams are 9-13 overall and 4-5 in Mountain West play. Nevada’s 40-point win over Colorado State in their January matchup was their biggest of the season. The Wolf Pack will try to extend their win streak to eight games overall, and seven straight against the Rams.
Darion Strugs can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @dstrugs.