New to rankings, unbeaten Nevada visits Texas Tech
Nevada and Texas Tech both will be looking to prove they belong in the Top 25 when they meet in Lubbock, Texas, on Tuesday night.
The visiting Wolf Pack (8-0) debuted in the rankings at No. 22 on Monday, riding the wave of momentum created by four road wins already this season.
Meanwhile, Texas Tech dropped out of the Top 25 after popping in at No. 22 last week. The Red Raiders lost their only game last week, falling 89-79 to Seton Hall at Madison Square Garden in New York.
Texas Tech led Seton Hall 42-39 at halftime but couldn’t withstand the Pirates shooting 55 percent from the field and 60 percent from 3-point range in the second half.
The task doesn’t get easier for the Red Raiders (6-1) against a Nevada team that averages 85 points and is giving up 67 through its first eight games.
“I think Nevada is a team that could play in the Big 12,” Texas Tech coach Chris Beard said. “I think Nevada is a team that could beat anybody in the country.”
During his pre-Nevada press conference, Beard singled out a couple of Wolf Pack players who will be a handful.
“(Guard Jordan Caroline is) a mismatch nightmare,” Beard said. “He’s quicker than most big guys and he’s stronger and more physical than most smaller guys. We don’t have one guy on our roster that can guard him one-on-one, so we’ll have to play team defense on him.”
Beard had a similar compliment for Nevada forward Caleb Martin.
“I don’t know how we’re going to stop him, but we’ll try to figure it out by Tuesday,” Beard said.
Nevada kept its road winning streak going by defeating UC Irvine 76-65 on Saturday. Caroline had 24 points, 13 rebounds and four assists in the victory. However, by the end of the postgame press conference, the Wolf Pack guard had turned his attention to a possible ranking and defending it against the Red Raiders.
“That’s what I came here for, to be on a ranked team and change this program around,” Caroline said. “To actually get there, it’s like a childhood dream in a sense. My hope is once we get it, we won’t let it go. Everybody is motivated on the team to stay there, not just to get there and be out the next week.”
Nevada coach Eric Musselman expressed similar cautious optimism following the win over the Anteaters. The challenge jumps up for the Wolf Pack as they travel to Texas Tech and then play No. 20 TCU at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on Friday.
“We’ve handled business thus far,” Musselman said. “Our players have said (a national ranking) would be something that they would like. Having said that, we just have to worry about the next game in front of us and I think our guys will do that. They’ve had a businesslike approach every game, and Texas Tech is really, really good.”
The Wolf Pack will focus on slowing down a deep Red Raiders lineup, led by guard Keenan Evans, who is averaging 15.9 points and 3.9 assists. Texas Tech thrives on balanced scoring as 10 players are averaging double-digit minutes and 4.9 points or more.