No. 21 Nevada plays San Diego State with league title in hand (Mar 02, 2018)

March 2, 2018

Nevada left no doubt that the Wolf Pack are the top team in the Mountain West Conference after demolishing in-state rival UNLV by 27 points on Wednesday night.

Along with some help from San Diego State, who beat Boise State 72-64, Nevada clinched its second straight Mountain West regular-season title.

Heading into their last game before the Mountain West Tournament, the No. 21 Wolf Pack can add to their record-setting season with a win over the Aztecs.

Nevada (26-5, 15-2 Mountain West) improved to 7-1 on the road in conference play and can tie Mountain West records for wins in a season with 16 and road wins with eight with a victory at Viejas Arena in San Diego.

But for at least one day, the Wolf Pack savored the beat down of the Rebels, who handily beat Nevada three weeks ago in Reno.

"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," Caleb Martin told the Reno Gazette Journal. "You could see on Twitter and social media people were talking all kinds of junk, and it left a bad taste in our mouth."

Martin, who had 19 points and eight rebounds, missed the first meeting on Feb. 7 -- an 86-78 UNLV win -- with a foot sprain. The Rebels probably wished he had missed this game, too.

But as Erik Musselman's squad has proved, the Wolf Pack have weapons at all spots on the floor.

For the second straight game, Cody Martin, Caleb's twin brother, toyed with a triple-double, finishing with a game-high 26 points and adding nine rebounds, seven assists and three steals.

Jordan Caroline, last year's Mountain West Tournament MVP, added 22 points, Kendall Stephens chipped in with 14 and Josh Hall added 10.

"It feels good, just because we knew the magnitude of the game," Cody Martin said. "We knew coming into it it'd be a tough environment, it was their senior night and we wanted to beat them. We wanted to beat them bad. We owed them one."

Redshirt freshman Jalen McDaniels posted a double-double (15 points, 10 rebounds) as the Aztecs (18-10, 10-7) knocked off the Broncos on Wednesday. Malik Pope, who sat out one game after being cleared of violating NCAA rules, scored 12 points.

"We were all surprised when the story came out," San Diego State coach Brian Dutcher told the San Diego Union-Tribune. "No one was more surprised that Malik. He kept his chin up. He told the truth. He told us he was innocent, and he went out and proved his innocence."

And if the revenge motivated Nevada against UNLV, then the Aztecs should be preparing a big heap of the same for Nevada. In their meeting on Feb. 10, Caroline scored 26 points and Stephens added 21 to lead Nevada to an 83-58 win in Reno.

"A tale of two halves," Dutcher said after the Wolf Pack outscored his team 48-23 in the second half of a game that was tied at halftime.

The Aztecs made only 21 of 62 shots from the field (33.9 percent) and only 10 of 30 from beyond the arc. They went to the free-throw line only 10 times, making six, and the Wolf Pack were 16 of 20.

"A frustrating offensive performance," Dutcher said. "In the second half, we couldn't get the shots to fall, and when you miss that many, they're running it out. They ran at us. Our shooting percentage was so low that they had a lot of fast-break opportunities."

The win over San Diego State was the first of Nevada's current six-game win streak and they seem to only have gotten better, despite losing point guard Lindsey Drew for the season because of an Achilles tendon injury.

With a win Saturday and a Wyoming loss to Boise State, San Diego State will receive the fifth seed in the Mountain West Tournament, which starts Wednesday in Las Vegas.


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