RENO — The Nevada Wolf Pack showed us all on Saturday that revenge is best served quickly.
The Wolf Pack jumped out to a 25-4 lead midway through the first half and cruised to a 91-62 victory over the New Mexico Lobos at Lawlor Events Center.
The one-sided victory in front of a crowd of 11,197 gave the No. 6 Wolf Pack a 23-1 record overall and 10-1 in the Mountain West and avenged the team’s only loss of this season, 85-58 at New Mexico on Jan. 5.
“If we lose this game that means this team would have beaten us twice,” Pack coach Eric Musselman said. “That’s pressure. We couldn’t lose this game.”
It was never in doubt as the Wolf Pack never trailed and led for all but 61 seconds of the game. The turnaround of 56 points (a 27-point loss to a 29-point victory) between the first and second games between the Lobos and Pack is the largest in the Musselman era by far against one opponent. The previous biggest turnaround was 34 last season against UNLV, between an eight-point loss (86-78) at home on Feb. 6, 2018 and a 26-point (101-75) win at Las Vegas on Feb. 28.
“This game was personal for us,” said Pack point guard Cody Martin, who had 13 points and seven assists. “We wanted to prove to them and to ourselves that wasn’t us (in the Jan. 5 loss).”
Since the first meeting between the two teams this season on Jan. 5, the Wolf Pack has won nine games in a row and the Lobos, now 10-13, 4-7, have lost seven-of-nine.
“We’re playing real good basketball, obviously,” Musselman said. “We’re still getting better.”
The Wolf Pack has won its last six games over Air Force, Colorado State twice, UNLV, Boise State and New Mexico, by an average of 23 points, ever since a narrow 72-71 victory at Boise State on Jan. 15.
There was little doubt from the start that the Pack would add another double-digit victory on Saturday.
“Everybody had something to prove this time,” said Caleb Martin, who had 20 points on four 3-pointers. “We wanted to prove that was a fluke showing by us (on Jan. 5).”
The Lobos simply never put up a fight. The Wolf Pack jumped out to a 10-2 lead four minutes into the game and a 15-0 run made it 25-4 with just under 10 minutes to play in the first half.
Three-pointers by Caleb Martin and Jazz Johnson started the run. Cody Martin also added a pair of jumpers and Jordan Caroline contributed a pair of layups and a free throw as the Pack held New Mexico scoreless for just over six minutes (6:04).
The six-minute, 15-0 run all but decided the game. The Wolf Pack was 6-of-12 from the floor during the run with three steals. New Mexico missed all 10 of its shots and turned the ball over five times.
“We did not want to be the non-aggressive team tonight,” Musselman said. “I didn’t care if we had 10 charges.”
“We were way more focused,” said Pack center Trey Porter, who had a season-high 20 points. “We got out-toughed (in New Mexico). We wanted to be more physical this time.”
The Wolf Pack also had a 9-0 run to take a 34-9 lead with just under seven minutes to play. Five different players (Tre’Shawn Thurman, Cody Martin, Johnson, Caroline and Porter) combined to score the nine points.
The Lobos did cut the Pack lead to under 20 at 38-19 on a 3-pointer by Keith McGee with just under five minutes to play in the half. But another 7-0 Pack run, thanks to free throws by Porter, Caroline, Cody Martin and a short jumper by Cody Martin, put the Pack up 49-20 with two minutes to go in the half.
Caleb Martin led the Pack at halftime with 11 points on three 3-pointers. The senior, who had just eight points in the Pack’s loss at New Mexico last month on 2-of-14 shooting, hit a three for leads of 8-2, 13-4 and 42-19.
“This was definitely a game we were looking forward to,” he said.
The Wolf Pack, which has now won 15 games in a row at home (12 this season), had as many threes (four) in the first half on Saturday as it had in the entire games against the Lobos in Albuquerque and almost as many field goals (19-18). The Pack hit on half its shots (18-of-36) on Saturday in the opening half while New Mexico was just 10-of-36.
Nothing much changed in the second half.
Porter and Caroline combined to score 14 consecutive Wolf Pack points over a stretch of 5:23 as the Pack opened up a 69-38 lead with 14:38 to play. Porter scored 10 of the 14 points on two short jumpers, a layup, a dunk and two free throws. Porter also had a dunk for a 79-50 lead with seven minutes to play.
His 20 points is the most he has scored since he scored 29 for Old Dominion on March 1, 2018 against Florida Atlantic. His previous high for the Wolf Pack was 14 against both Loyola Chicago (Nov. 27) and California Baptist (Nov. 19).
“My teammates did a great job of throwing me the lobs,” Porter said. “Whatever I scored is because of them.”
The Wolf Pack will now go on the road for two games, at Wyoming (Feb. 16) and San Diego State (Feb. 20), before returning to Lawlor Events Center to host Fresno State on Feb. 23.
“We were embarrassed,” said Musselman of the Pack’s one loss this season at New Mexico. “We really were. We had pressure to play well tonight and the guys did it.”