LAS VEGAS (AP) — Even though Nevada clinched the Mountain West Conference regular-season title on an off night Tuesday, they still had revenge on their minds against UNLV.
The Rebels upset their instate rivals earlier this month in Reno. The Wolf Pack also wanted to get comfortable with the Thomas & Mack confines as they will travel back as the top seed next Thursday for the conference tournament.
Put that together with incredibly hot Nevada first-half 3-point shooting, and the Wolf Pack looked unbeatable in that session, cruising 101-75 for their sixth straight win Wednesday night.
Cody Martin scored 26 and Jordan Caroline added 22 to lead No. 21 Nevada. Martin, who was 10 of 19 from the field, also had nine rebounds, seven assists, and three steals.
“We didn’t play with the toughness we normally do in game one (against UNLV),” Nevada coach Eric Musselman said. “In game one, we watched the ball go up. Since then, we watched a lot of film. (UNLV is) a talented team. We took (their) three away. We were going to the basket and not settling. They did back off and we took those 15-foot shots.”
Caleb Martin added 19 points for the Wolf Pack, who converted nine of their first 13 three-point attempts to pull away early on the Rebels’ Senior Night. Caleb Martin was out in the previous meeting, an 86-78 UNLV win Feb. 7.
Nevada (26-5, 15-2 Mountain West Conference) had clinched the title when second-place Boise State lost at San Diego State.
Kendall Stephens had 14 points and Josh Hall had 10 points for the winners, who have won the conference for the second straight year.
Brandon McCoy led UNLV (19-11, 8-9) with 19 points and 17 rebounds, while Shakur Juiston added 14 points and 14 rebounds.
“We took their touches away inside,” Musselman said. “We rebounded well and we’re so small.”
KNOCKOUT BLOW EARLY: Nevada took the lead for good on Hall’s jumper with 15:35 until halftime. That basket started a 20-6 spurt that turned into a 41-11 run – and quieting down the ready-to-get-loud Rebels’ crowd. Nevada built its largest first-half lead at 52-22 with 3:06 until intermission and eventually led 54-28 at halftime.
“Going into the game, I was really trying to get to the basket,” Caroline said. “We really got things going early. We really got rolling and got the ball moving. Everyone was spotting up. After the first game, it fueled a fire for us.”
UNLV cut the lead to 74-54 with 12:35 to go, but got no closer.
“Can’t start the game like that,” UNLV coach Marvin Menzies said. “We were giving them too much space. We made some adjustments in the second half, but they came a little too late.”
NEVADA: The regular season title is the second consecutive MWC title, the first time in program history. Nevada also broke their record for MWC wins with 15 and now has 11 road wins. Stephens also is now third all-time for 3-pointers made in a MWC season.
UNLV: The Rebels have lost four straight. UNLV honored senior guards Jordan Johnson and Jovan Mooring on Senior Night before the game. Johnson finished with 11 points, while Mooring had five points. … The Rebels outscored the Wolf Pack in the paint, 52-44.
DOWN THE STRETCH: Menizes was asked if his team has run out of gas. “I don’t think we’ve quit or packed it in,” he said. “We knew we were playing against the tough part of the schedule here. I’m going to do what I know I can do to build this program.”