Nevada Wolf Pack looks to cut down the nets — again |

Nevada Wolf Pack looks to cut down the nets — again

Darrell Moody
Nevada guard Hallice Cooke shown against San Diego State earlier this season. Cooke is one of three Pack seniors playing their final home game on Sunday.
Thomas Ranson/LVN |

COLORADO STATE (11-18, 4-12) AT NEVADA (24-5, 13-2)

When: Sunday, 1 p.m

Where: Lawlor Events Center

TV-Radio: CBS Sports Network/630 AM

Last meeting: Nevada 76, Colorado State 67 on Feb. 3

Projected starters:

CSU: G Prentiss Nixon (15.3, 2.9), Deion James (10.3, 5.6) and Anthony Bonner (11.0, 2.7); F Che Bob (9.7, 4.4) and Nico Carvacho (12.4, 11.4); NEVADA: F Kendall Stephens (13.8, 2.0), Elijah Foster (1.9, 1.6) or Caleb Martin (19.2, 5.1) and Jordan Caroline (17.0, 8.7); G Hallice Cooke (4.7, 2.2) and Cody Martin (13.5, 5.4).

News & Notes

Since Nov. 24 at Hawaii, Kendall Stephens has missed scoring in double figures just three times … Nevada has won the last four games in the series … Nevada played the last 34 seconds of the game against San Jose State with five walk-ons, including both football players on the roster … Caleb Martin’s foot was bothering him against San Jose State, but Stephens and Hallice Cooke picked up the slack scoring wise … As part of fan appreciation, every fan in attendance will win something during the game. Make sure to grab a Wolf Pack roster sheet as you enter the game as selected rosters will be signed and fans could win golf at the Toiyabe Golf Club, tickets to Night in the Country, a basketball signed by the team, golf at the Somerset Golf and Country Club, a pair of tickets to the Pack’s first home football game or a Muss Bus shirt. All students in attendance will receive a 2-for-1 coupon for a box combo at Raising Canes. One student will win a ticket to the 2018 Mountain West Basketball Tournament in Las Vegas.

RENO — Get the scissors ready.

The 20th-ranked Nevada Wolf Pack has a chance to clinch no worse than a share of its second consecutive Mountain West regular-season championship when it hosts Colorado State on Sunday (1 p.m., CBS Sports Network) at Lawlor Events Center.

Nevada is 13-2 in conference, two games ahead of Boise State (12-4) in the loss column with three games left. Boise State has two games left. By virtue of its sweep over the Broncos, Nevada will clinch the No. 1 tournament seed with a win.

Nevada also has a chance to cut down the nets at home for the third straight season, a feat that not many teams get to experience. Nevada cut down the nets after its College Basketball Invitational crown in coach Eric Musselman’s first year, and last season by defeating Colorado State in the regular-season finale to win the conference title.

“It would be extra special,” forward Jordan Caroline said after Wednesday’s win over San Jose State. “Great opportunity to do it (three times). I’m excited for the game. Colorado State is a good team and we have to come prepared.”

“Colorado State has its best two players back,” said Hallice Cooke, referring to guards Prentiss Nixon and J.D. Paige. “It’s not going to be an easy game no matter what their record is. They have a situation going on, but they are still playing hard.”

Cooke was referring to the Rams’ coaching mess.

Head coach Larry Eustachy was placed on paid administrative leave hours before the first CSU-Nevada game. Steve Barnes, associate head coach, stepped in and coached against the Pack. Barnes, however, was also placed on administrative leave. The team is now is the hands of Jace Herl, who has a 1-2 record in his three games at the helm.

According to stories in the Fort Collins Coloradoan, Eustachy in 2013-14 was found to have verbally and mentally abused players and staff members in his program but kept his job after agreeing to attend anger-management classes and change his negative behaviors. He is under contract through the 2020-21 season, and would be owed three times his scheduled salary for next year of $1.04 million if he is fired without cause before June 30.

Herl, meanwhile, was disappointed with his team’s effort, or lack of, against Boise State. The 87-54 loss to the Broncos was the worst since 2009 when BYU handed the Rams a 94-60 loss.

“It’s all between the ears,” Herl said in the postgame press conference. “Our energy, effort and attitude weren’t there.”

Herl said he tinkered with a bunch of different combinations, hoping that one would click. Nothing did.

“We didn’t show any heart, any competitiveness tonight, and it’s just baffling,” Paige said after the game. “We have to show more heart.”

Musselman feels that the first CSU game (a 76-67 Nevada win) needs to be thrown out because it was Nixon’s first game back after an injury, and Paige didn’t play.

He pointed out that containing the two guards is critical, but that the Rams have other talented players.

“(Che) Bob is a good athlete and (Nico) Carvacho is a great rebounder,” Musselman said. “They have some offensive weapons we need to be concerned about.”

Musselman’s biggest concern moving forward is the health of his team. Caleb Martin is still battling a foot injury, and the coach said that Stephens has to wear a soft splint on the thumb of his right hand for the rest of the season.

Stephens didn’t seem that concerned about his thumb, but Musselman said it will require surgery at the end of the season.

“We have a lot of nicks,” Musselman said. “Hopefully try to get as healthy as we can.”