Streaking Nevada Wolf Pack heads to Wyoming

Jordan Caroline is shown in action recently against Utah State.

Jordan Caroline is shown in action recently against Utah State.

Two streaks take center stage when No. 23 Nevada takes the floor Wednesday against Wyoming at Arena Auditorium in Laramie.

Tip-off is set for 8 p.m., and the game is being broadcast on ESPNU.

The Wolf Pack, 7-0 in conference and 18-3 overall, has won its last 13 regular-season Mountain West games, one shy of the record set by New Mexico in 2010. Taking a step further, the Pack has won 16 straight against MW teams, including last season’s MW Tournament.

The Pack is also riding a six-game road winning streak in MW games, one shy of a record held by New Mexico and Utah.

Impressive accomplishments. Even great teams stub their toe once in a while, and so far that hasn’t happened in league play. The three losses this year have been by 12 points.

“I’m proud of the effort,” Nevada coach Eric Musselman said. “The guys being mature and ready to play every night. We’ve lost three times. In reality, the USF game was a loose ball and a shot basically at the buzzer. We lost in overtime (at Texas Tech) and TCU we were within striking distance.

“Almost every team has a bad game where you lose by 20. Hopefully we don’t (have one of those). Guys take each game seriously and play really hard.”

All year, Nevada players have talked about preparation.

“Coaches do a good job at player personnel,” guard Kendall Stephens said. “We watch (a lot of) film. Knowing tendencies, and everybody is buying in and on the same page defensively.”

Defense will play a huge role in Wednesday’s game. Back on Jan. 3, Wyoming put up 50 second-half points in a 92-83 loss. The Pack did a good job of putting the clamps on Hayden Dalton (12 points, 5 below his average), but Justin James (30) and Louis Adams (24) had big games, and Musselman hopes to avoid that this time around.

“Our guys hopefully understand the pace Wyoming plays at,” Musselman said. “Obviously 50 points in the second half is a lot to give up. They score in spurts. I think we scored 56. We want to run with them.

“We have to do a better job in transition defense; a better job on Adams and James. We have to stay in front (of them) and not let them live at the foul line. I thought we did what we needed to do offensively. He (Dalton) is (the main focus), but James is more of a focal point as well.”

This is also the first time this season Nevada has played a conference team for the second time.

“It’s always harder to beat a team a second time whether it’s AAU or CYO,” reserve guard Hallice Cooke said. “They know your plays and you know them. They are really good running and getting out in transition. We didn’t stay focused.”

“Coach brought up a lot in film,” Stephens said. “Emphasized defense. We allowed easy baskets. Coaches have said that we have been better on defense. “

In the last three games, Nevada has held opponents to an average of 59 points a contest, and twice have held opponents under 15 percent from beyond the arc (Utah State 12.5 percent and Boise State 14.3 percent).

The status of Cody Martin is still up in the air. He came off the bench to play 20 minutes in the win over Boise State. According to Musselman, it will be a game-time decision.

“He won’t practice today (Monday), tomorrow (Tuesday) and he won’t shoot on Wednesday,” Musselman said. “Hopefully he’ll have a good warmup. Being off it for 2 1/2 days will help him. He has a high basketball IQ, and he can watch the breakdown drills we do. He will lose a little offensive rhythm by not practicing.

“I don’t think we can beat Wyoming without a full roster. We flirted with that at San Jose State. Wyoming is a hard place to play. We’re going to need him.”


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