Nevada Wolf Pack routs Southern Illinois |

Nevada Wolf Pack routs Southern Illinois

Darrell Moody
Nevada’s Caleb Martin drives against Southern Illinois’ Aaron Cook during Friday’s game at the Las Vegas Classic.
Nevada Athletics |

LAS VEGAS — Big first-half scoring surges have become commonplace for Nevada.

Tuesday, Nevada used a 17-2 surge late in the first half to break open a tie game with UC Davis.

Friday, the Wolf Pack outdid themselves, outscoring Southern Illinois 25-2 in a span of nearly eight minutes in the opening half en route to an 86-64 victory at the Continental Tires Las Vegas Classic at Orleans Arena.

Nevada improved to 11-2, and hopes to make it four straight wins in the tournament when it battles San Francisco on Saturday at 8 p.m.

“I thought from start to finish we really played well on both sides,” Nevada coach Eric Musselman said. “It’s interesting the runs we’ve had in the second part of the first half (recently).

“I think a lot of it has to do with Caleb (Martin) being willing to come off the bench. He has fresh legs. He can see how things develop. He did a fantastic job shooting the ball from 3 and it opens up for other guys.”

Martin hit his first six field goals and went 7-for-10 en route to a team-leading 19-point effort. It is the first time all season Nevada has failed to produce a 20-point scorer.

As he did Tuesday, Martin said he didn’t mind coming off the bench.

“I just come in and try to play the best defense I can,” Martin said. “I try to get it going; play at a fast pace.”

Nevada, thanks to a 56 percent shooting effort from the floor, rolled to a 46-28 halftime lead. Caleb Martin was perfect off the bench, going 6-for-6 overall.

Martin was somewhat surprised by his start. He said he didn’t shoot that well in warm-ups.

“It is really a mental thing,” Martin said. “Once you see one go in, the rim gets bigger and bigger.”

It was the third-most prolific half scoring wise, trailing just 50 at Santa Clara and 51 against Illinois State. Both games ended up being 30-point Nevada wins, and this one could have been if Musselman had not emptied his bench.

SIU led 17-16 on two free throws by Tyler Smithpeters. That would be the Salukis’ last lead, as the Pack took over the contest in dominating fashion.

Nevada scored 25 of the next 27 points to take a 41-19 lead with 3:32 remaining in the half.

Two threes by Martin, a pair of free tosses by Elijah Foster, another three by Martin and another bucket by Foster capped an 13-0 surge.

The Salukis went 1-for10 from the floor in that stretch and also turned the ball over five times. They were also hindered by foul trouble to big man Kavion Pippen, who picked up three fouls in the first half.

After a bucket by Rudy Stradnieks to end the drought, Nevada went out and scored 12 straight on a basket by Lindsey Drew, another three by Martin, a driving lay-up by Martin and five straight points by Jordan Caroline, who was facing his old school for the first time.

Stradnieks and Jon Wiley led a 9-5 surge at the end of the half to get the deficit under 20.

Nevada’s lead stayed around 20 points until midway through the second half.

Leading 64-44, Nevada went on a 15-7 run to stretch the lead to 78-51 with 4:35 left in the game.

Foster, who reached double figures (10 points, 3 rebounds) for the first time since Nov. 27, started the surge with a lay-up and a three-point play.

After two free throws by the Salukis, Foster added two more free throws to make it 71-46. A three by Sean Lloyd and a bucket by Stradnieks (career-best 11 points) made it 73-51, but Cody Martin drained a 3-pointer, Jordan Caroline drained a free throw and Josh Hall scored a bucket to make it a 27-point lead.

Foster had five points in just four minutes in the win over UC Davis.

“He’s hungry,” Musselman said. “He has had to sit, and you can either pout or be hungry. He’s been putting in extra time before and after practice.”

Musselman was pleased with his entire bench. A total of eight players scored seven or more points, and this is the seventh time the team has put four players in double figures.

Besides Caleb Martin’s 19, Caroline scored 13, Kendall Stephens 11 and Foster 10.