No. 6 Nevada thinking revenge vs. New Mexico
Jordan Caroline had just broken the Mountain West record for career double-doubles with a sparkling 40-point, 12-rebound performance in a 98-82 victory at Colorado State on Wednesday night when the Nevada forward was asked if he was looking forward to Saturday afternoon's home game with New Mexico at the Lawlor Events Center.
"Most definitely," Caroline said. "It's a tough team. It's a rivalry game. It's a big game on our schedule. And they got us by 30."
It remains hard to believe, but the Lobos (10-12, 4-6 Mountain West), losers of six of their last eight games and tied for eighth place with Colorado State in the conference, are the only team to defeat the No. 6 Wolf Pack (22-1, 9-1) this season, and it wasn't even close.
The Lobos jumped out to a 24-11 lead in the Jan. 5 contest at New Mexico and led by as many as 29 points in the second half en route to a surprisingly lopsided 85-58 victory.
The 27-point loss was also the biggest in Mountain West play for Nevada since a 78-46 loss at Boise State on Feb. 21, 2015.
The Wolf Pack shot just 33.3 percent from the floor and 59.3 percent from the free-throw line while also getting outrebounded 47-37 by a Lobo team that had lost 100-65 at New Mexico State just a month earlier.
"We feel like we have something to avenge," Caroline said. "They're a really talented team. ... It's a big one for us."
Nevada will bring a 14-game home win streak into the contest with the last two wins over Colorado State and Boise State by an average of 30 points.
The Wolf Pack, who hold a one-game lead over Utah State in their quest for a third straight outright Mountain West regular-season title, edged the Lobos 77-74 last season in Reno, with guard Lindsey Drew blocking a potential game-tying 3-point try by Chris McNeal with two seconds remaining to seal the win.
Caroline had 21 points and 10 rebounds in that victory, one of his 44 career-doubles. The 6-foot-7, 235-pound forward, who had three double-doubles as a freshman at Southern Illinois, broke the Mountain West mark for career double-doubles of 40 that he had shared with NBA superstar Kawhi Leonard (San Diego State, 2009-11) and No. 1 overall NBA pick Andrew Bogut (Utah, 2003-05) in Wednesday night's victory at Colorado State.
Caroline, who had 30 points and six rebounds in the first half, finished 11-of-19 from the floor including 6-of-8 from 3-point range. His 40-point effort was the most by a Mountain West player this season but wasn't a career-high. That came at New Mexico on Jan. 7, 2017 when he had 45 as the Wolf Pack overcame a 25-point deficit in the final 11 minutes, including nine points with 49 seconds to go in regulation, in a memorable 105-104 overtime victory.
"I kind of went hot," Caroline said during his postgame TV interview on Wednesday night. "I just kept firing. ... If I felt it was a decent shot I could hit, I was taking it."
"Once he got rolling, there was no stopping him," Nevada coach Eric Musselman said, according to the Fort Collins Coloradoan.
New Mexico will enter off an 83-70 victory over visiting San Diego State on Tuesday night, snapping a three-game losing streak.
Senior guard Anthony Mathis, who scored 27 points in the Lobos' win over the Wolf Pack, had 17 points as New Mexico used a 16-0 run during a 47-point second half to win comfortably over the Aztecs.
--Field Level Media
Updated February 8, 2019