By Austin Paschke
Coming off a physical win against Fresno State, the 12th ranked Nevada Wolf Pack routed in-state rival UNLV Wednesday night by a score of 89-73. Nevada moves to 26-2 overall, and 13-2 in conference play due to the effort of Nevada’s “Big Three”.
The “Big Three” of Cody Martin, Caleb Martin and Jordan Caroline who combined for 67 of the Wolf Pack’s 89 points and shot 44 of the team’s 60 field goals.
“Our big three played great,” Nevada head coach Eric Musselman said. “When our big three play really good, we are a phenomenal basketball team.”
Wolf Pack great Nick Fazekas was honored during the game, which made it all more phenomenal. At half time, Fazekas become the second player to see his jersey retired and hanging in the rafters of Lawlor Events Center. Fazekas was honored not only for his jaw-dropping statistics, but because of how much he meant to the community of Northern Nevada.
“He has meant so much to northern Nevada,” said Musselman. “I think anytime you can bring your past back is special.”
With the win, Nevada remains undefeated at Lawlor Events Center this season, extending their streak to 17 games that dates back to last year.
The Pack simply dominated the Rebels from the tip to the final whistle, not letting UNLV take the lead once. Nevada’s only struggle was in the rebounding category losing the battle 40-28.
Nevada’s defense forced 17 UNLV turnovers while only coughing up the ball eight times themselves.
The Pack was led by Caleb Martin who had 24 points on 8-13 shooting, including 6-11 from deep also going 2-2 from the free throw line. Caleb also racked up four steals and three assists.
Not to be overshadowed by his brother, Cody Martin had a season-high 23 points on 8-14 shooting, including a career high 4-6 from deep. Cody also had eight assists with one turnover, showing why he’s top 25 in the nation and number one in the conference in assist/turnover ratio.
“He could do this night in and night out if he wants to.” Caleb Martin said. “It just depends on how aggressive he starts.”
The twins were joined by Jordan Caroline who had 20 points going 8-17 from the field and 2-4 from the three-point line. Caroline is now two points away from reaching 2,000 points in his career after the game on Wednesday. As of now, he seems more focused on the season than his accomplishments.
“I think it will mean a lot more when I’m done playing but you know it will be a great thing to achieve but I’m just trying to win,” Caroline said.
Nevada started the game with a Cody Martin three and never looked back. The Pack extended their early lead to 20-9 off a Caleb Martin jumper with 14:15 left. A layup by Kris Clyburn brought the Rebels within eight with nine minutes left in the half.
This new energy by the Rebels was quickly diminished by a Trey Porter block, which brought the 11,289 fans in Lawlor to their feet. A pair of Caleb Martin threes gave the Pack a 46-28 lead going into halftime.
Nevada kept their foot on the gas pedal extending their lead to 54-37 off a Caleb Martin three pointer with 16:11 left. Tre’Shawn Thurman went on a run of his own scoring six-straight points for the Pack extending their lead to 65-46.
The Pack allowed the Rebels to get some momentum bringing it back to within 11 off a three-pointer by Noah Robotham — who finished the game with 16 points. The final push by UNLV was “too little, too late” and was answered by Jordan Caroline who drained a three-pointer to make it 87-71 with 1:27 left in the game.
Nevada looks to improve their record to 27-2 on the season and 14-2 in the Mountain West when they travel to Logan, Utah to face second place Utah State Aggies on Saturday, March 2, at the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum. Nevada took care of business the first time they played Utah beating the Aggies 72-49. If the Pack defeat the Aggies on Saturday, they will clinch their third consecutive Mountain West regular season title.
Austin Paschke can be reached at email@example.com and on Twitter @SagebrushSports.