Title won, Nevada Wolf Pack seeks revenge at UNLV
No. 21 NEVADA (25-5, 14-2) AT UNLV (19-10, 8-8)
When: Wednesday, 8 p.m.
Where: Thomas & Mack
TV-Radio: CBS Sports Network/630 AM
Last meeting: UNLV 76, Nevada 68
NEVADA: F Caleb Martin (19.4, 5.1) and Jordan Caroline (17.1, 8.9); G Cody Martin (13.6, 6.5), Hallice Cooke (4.8, 2.1) and Kendall Stephens (13.6, 2.8); UNLV: C Brandon McCoy (16.8, 10.0); F Shakur Juiston (14.5, 10.0) and Tervell Beck (6.8, 2.2); G Jordan Johnson (14.2, 2.8) and Jovan Mooring (14.3, 2.9).
Nevada’s RPI sits at 15 with a strength of schedule of 57 and opponent strength of schedule of 91… Nevada has won 24 or more games in each of head coach Eric Musselman’s three seasons … Kendall Stephens has set the MW record with 67 made 3-pointers in conference play this season. His 107 made 3 pointers is second in a season at Nevada and fourth in the MW… Jordan Caroline has 25 career double-doubles and the Pack is 24-1 in those contests.
RENO — One day after wrapping up its second consecutive Mountain West regular-season championship, Nevada coach Eric Musselman pointed out it was time to get back to business.
“If we were in the NBA and had to play today, yeah it would be hard, but we play Wednesday,” Musselman said Monday afternoon. “We have a light practice today, a light practice Tuesday and then we get on a plane and we’ll go shoot in Vegas.
“By that time, we’ll have had three or four film sessions. I think they understand. It’s a mature group. It’s a concern for sure. We have to regroup and get the champagne taste out of our mouths.”
And, just the mention of UNLV should do the trick. The Rebels handed Nevada its worst loss of the season, 76-68, back on Feb. 7 at Lawlor Events Center. Jovan Mooring had 31 points and Shakur Juiston had 19 points on 9-for-11 shooting, including several putbacks.
Tip-off is 8 p.m. for the in-state rivalry game.
“I’m really excited for the game,” sophomore Josh Hall said. “I didn’t like losing to them and I didn’t like losing at home. They were talking the whole game. Their bigs (Brandon McCoy and Shakur Juiston) are really big and strong. (Jovan) Mooring and the other guard (Jordan Johnson) are good shooters, and we have to contain them both.”
“We didn’t get enough consecutive stops,” said Kendall Stephens. “They have talented players, and we didn’t make it tough enough on them. You can’t have one guy guarding the ball and three or four guys slacking off. Mooring is talented. We have to know where he’s at. Yeah (earlier loss) helps us stay motivated.”
Musselman said after the win over Colorado State he has the utmost respect for the Rebels and their coach, Marvin Menzies. He also said each game has its own identity, and there isn’t any carryover.
“I just want to see improvement every game. We have to continue to get better these last two games,” Musselman said. “These are two hard places to win. Both San Diego State and UNLV present a lot of problems, and as you saw against Colorado State and San Jose State, everybody plays their best games against us. We have to step up to the challenge.
“UNLV is a really good rebounding team. Shakur was a really good rebounder coming into the year, and Brandon (McCoy) and him from size standpoint are different than other teams in the league. We will see what happens in this game.”
Truth be told, health is Musselman’s biggest concern entering the last week of the season. Cody and Caleb Martin have played through injuries, and Kendall Stephens has ligament damage to his right thumb. He went 3-for-12 against CSU.
Stephens started the game with a splint, removed it and then put it back on later in the game.
“It’s frustrating playing with the brace,” Stephens said. “It’s a little bulky. It affects how I grip the ball and how it comes off my fingers. It’s a different feeling. I just have to get up more shots and get used to it. It’s part of the game and I have to continue to get treatment.
“It might be a torn ligament. It (the ligament) is not holding the thumb in place. It’s something that will need to be taken care of after season. I knew exactly what play it happened on. It was between a lot of scuffles.”
Even Musselman could see during the CSU win Stephens was having issues because of the brace.
“The day before the (CSU) game, he was banging shots in,” the Nevada coach said. “You could tell it affected him dramatically. We’ll see how he’s shooting the ball when we get to Vegas.”