The big three for No. 12 Nevada showed up in a big way Wednesday night.
Caleb Martin scored 24 points, Cody Martin had a season-high 23 and the Wolf Pack cruised to an 89-73 victory against in-state rival UNLV.
Jordan Caroline added 20 points and 12 rebounds for his 16th double-double this season. The trio combined for 26 of Nevada’s first 28 points and 67 in all.
“When our big three play really good (as they did tonight), we are a phenomenal basketball team,” coach Eric Musselman said.
Nevada shot 53.3 percent from the floor. The Martin twins combined for 10 of 17 from beyond the 3-point arc, and Cody Martin had eight assists.
After shooting 19 percent from 3-point range through the first 18 games, Cody Martin has hit at a 58 percent clip since his game-winning 3 on Jan. 15 against Boise State.
“Whenever (Cody) is aggressive like that, it’s way easier for me, and Jordan, and pretty much everybody,” Caleb Martin said. “He’s a point guard so he is going to get his assists, regardless. He’s going to get in and get his rebounds, regardless. So, I tell him all the time, ‘You need to be aggressive and be ready to shoot the ball.’ . He can do this night in and night out if he wants to.”
Nevada (26-2, 13-2 Mountain West Conference) never trailed and entered the break up 46-28. In two meetings this season, the Wolf Pack outscored UNLV by a combined 94-54 in the first half.
“It was pretty much the same as the first game,” UNLV guard Amauri Hardy said. “We came out slow, but we beat them in the second half. But we need to put two halves together.”
Hardy led UNLV (15-13, 9-7) with 19 points. Kris Clyburn scored 18 and Noah Robotham had 16.
UNLV outrebounded Nevada 40-28 but committed 17 turnovers to the Wolf Pack’s eight.
Nevada extended its home winning streak to 17 games, one shy of the longest in program history. The Wolf Pack have won four consecutive meetings with UNLV.
“I think it is always important to win, but it’s a big deal to us and the state and the community that we come out and compete like we did,” Cody Martin said. “It’s a big rivalry.”
UNLV: The Rebels, who have dropped their last two games, couldn’t handle Nevada and its raucous crowd. The loss left Air Force 1½ games behind UNLV for fifth place in the Mountain West.
Nevada: The Wolf Pack lead the conference standings by a half-game over Utah State heading into their showdown Saturday. Nevada can clinch its third straight Mountain West regular-season championship with a victory on the road.
“Their place has always been a hard place for the last 20 years,” Musselman said. “We’ll go into that environment and it will be two really good teams and we will see what happens.”
Nevada retired No. 22 in honor of Nick Fazekas during a halftime ceremony. Fazekas, the school’s career scoring leader with 2,464 points, played at Nevada from 2003-07 and joined Edgar Jones (1975-79) as the only players in program history to have their jerseys retired.
“This was the best four years of my life,” Fazekas said before the game. “I tell people all the time, ‘If I could rewind my life, I would go back to the time I started here until it ended here and do it all over again.'”
The crowd of 11,289 was a season high at Lawlor Events Center and increased Nevada’s season total to 151,926. That broke the previous record of 150,674 set in 2005-06.
UNLV: Returns home Saturday to host Boise State.
Nevada: Plays at Utah State on Saturday.