Bragging rights were on the line in Nevada, and it was not pretty.
Historically, UNLV has been the dominant NCAA basketball program in the state of Nevada, but now that isn’t the case.
No. 21-ranked Nevada took center court and proceeded to open up “a can of whoop-ass” on UNLV, 101-75 in the Thomas & Mack Center in front of of 13,997 predominantly appalled Rebels fans. Adding insult to injury, the first 3,000 attendees received free now-chronologically-incorrect UNLV tee shirts reading “OUR STATE.”
101 points was the second most Nevada has scored against UNLV in the 86-game history. The 26-point margin of victory was meant to be a senior night statement, and the severity of the loss was so bad some Rebels fans went “runnin'” from the Thomas & Mack Center before the game ended.
There’s little doubt Nevada is now the top dog in the state. UNLV did score a win over the Wolf Pack in Reno three weeks ago, but Nevada has won back-to-back Mountain West titles and has given the Rebels its three biggest margins of victory in the rivalry during the last four games with margins at 36, 27 and now 33 points on Wednesday.
After UNLV led 10-7, Nevada went on a 21-4 run. The Wolf Pack made nine straight shots during that stretch while UNLV missed 10 straight field goals. The beating continued as Nevada’s run extended to a 45-12 surge giving the Pack a 52-22 lead late in the first half. Lord almighty.
Wonder twins Martin had this to say.
Caleb Martin: “We knew that we owed them one and I had a little fire coming into the game because I didn’t get to play last time,”
Cody Martin: “It feels good, just because we knew the magnitude of the game. We knew coming into it it’d be a tough environment, it was their senior night, we wanted to beat them. We wanted to beat them BAD.”
Cody Martin had a game-high 26 points to go with nine rebounds, seven assists and three steals. Jordan Caroline added 22 points on 7-of-8 shooting. Caleb Martin chipped in 19 points and eight rebounds, hitting 5-of-8 threes. Kendall Stephens (14) and Josh Hall (10) also reached double figures as Nevada made 50.7 percent of its shots, including 13-of-24 3-pointers.
Nevada shut down UNLV’s Jovan Mooring, this time, who in the first game had a career-best 31 points and was the difference maker then. Playing on his senior night, Mooring was held to just five points on 2-of-16 shooting. He missed all seven of his 3-pointers. UNLV shot 40.5 percent from the field (4-of-23 from three). Mercy.
“We tried to make him as uncomfortable as possible,” Cody Martin said.
UNLV’s two bigs – Brandon McCoy and Shakur Jusiton – combined for 33 points and 31 rebounds on 14-of-26 shooting, but their impact was relatively muted. The Wolf Pack out-boarded the physically larger Rebels, 44-43.
Nevada (26-5, 15-2 MW) improved to 7-1 on the road in league play and can tie MW records in single-season conference wins (16- held by the Aztecs) and road wins (eight) in its regular-season finale Saturday at San Diego State.
UNLV (19-11, 8-9), unfortunately, must accept that the Wolf Pack owns the Silver State for now.
Did the Wolfpack leave the tank empty for Saturday’s final game at Viejas Arena? Tune in to find out!