RENO — Nevada honored its seniors in the Wolf Pack’s final regular-season game — and the upperclassmen delivered an impressive victory.
Caleb Martin scored 25 points and twin brother Cody added 14 to lead Nevada to an 81-53 rout of San Diego State on Saturday night that clinched a share of the Mountain West title with Utah State.
The Martin twins — both seniors — combined to shoot 12 of 19 and Nevada (28-3, 15-3 Mountain West) finished at 53.1 percent as a team. Jordan Caroline has 16 points and Trey Porter had 13.
“It means everything to share a moment with my Mom in town, people in town, playing with my brother one last time,” Caleb Martin said. “We couldn’t have asked for a better ending to the regular season and the seniors to go out with a bang here — winning like that against a team that beat us.”
Nevada now plays Thursday against the winner of the No. 8 vs. No. 9 play-in game in the Mountain West Tournament. Nevada enters next week’s conference tournament as the No. 1 seed because it owns a tiebreaker with Utah State.
“Now it’s free game,” Caleb Martin said about the upcoming conference tournament. “(We) ain’t going to worry about no rankings anymore. Everybody is on the same level now. That’s how I like it.”
Nevada recognized the collegiate careers of seven basketball players — including six transfers — on Senior Night.
“I told them I loved them and thanked them for taking me and my family on this ride,” Nevada coach Eric Musselman said of his seniors. “Now with guys that have been with us for four years, it’s just a lot different of an experience than coaching at the NBA level. I don’t think after my last game with the (Sacramento) Kings I was hugging everybody, crying and telling them I loved them. I don’t think that really happened with Metta World Peace, K-Mart and those guys.”
San Diego State had as many personal fouls as rebounds (25) — with one offensive rebound.
Nevada grabbed 42 boards and beat the Aztecs 26-12 in the paint. Nevada made 20 free throws to San Diego State’s seven.
“You want to peak at the right time and I think that’s what we are doing,” Caroline said. “We are trending upwards, especially at tournament time.”
The Wolf Pack jumped out to a 16-5 lead in the first five minutes in front of 11,243, but San Diego State answered with a 10-0 run in the final two minutes of the first half and entered the break trailing 42-37.
Nevada never trailed in the game and dominated the second half, outscoring San Diego State 39-16.
Jeremy Hemsley led San Diego State (19-12, 11-7) with 16 points. Matt Mitchell and Devin Watson each scored 14 for the Aztecs, who shot 34.6 percent as a team.
“Those seniors are relentless, especially the Martin twins and Caroline,” Hemsley said. “I have a lot of respect for them and I think they have a lot of respect for me, too. It’s a great atmosphere. I wanted to cry just knowing it was my last night playing here. It’s something you’re going to miss, playing in front of fans like that, who know you’re name and are going to talk trash to you.”
SDSU: The Aztecs finished the season tied with UNLV for fourth place in the Mountain West and will enter the tournament as the fourth seed.
Nevada: The Wolf Pack got revenge for its 65-57 loss at San Diego State on Feb. 20, and broke its three-game losing streak against the Aztecs. They climbed three spots in Monday’s AP Top 25 Poll to 14th this week.
PERFECT AT LAWLOR, ATTENDANCE RECORD
Nevada finished the season 15-0 at Lawlor Events Center, and grabbed its 18th straight home victory, which tied a school record. Nevada’s announced attendance of 11,243 pushed its season attendance to 163,169 — a program record.
BETTER AT HOME
The Wolf Pack’s three losses this season came on the road against New Mexico, San Diego State and Utah State. Nevada beat each of those teams at home by a combined 244-164.
Nevada 90, Air Force 79
Jazz Johnson scored a career-high 27 points and made seven of his team’s 13 shots from 3-point range in leading No. 17 Nevada over Air Force 90-79 on Tuesday night.
“They kept leaving me open and giving me space,” Johnson said. “I was knocking the shots down.”
Cody Martin added 18 points and twin brother Caleb contributed 16 as the Wolf Pack (27-3, 14-3 Mountain West Conference) beat Air Force for a seventh straight time.
The Wolf Pack rebounded from an emotional 81-76 loss at Utah State on Saturday. Chaos broke out in the hallways after Aggies students stormed the court and left Nevada’s Caroline noticeably upset. Caroline broke glass when he hit a fire extinguisher case.
Caroline finished with 10 points and 10 rebounds against Air Force (13-16, 8-9). It was his 17th double-double of the season.
“He bounced back tonight and had a heck of a game,” Musselman said. “I thought we were really, really good offensively. When we knock down the 3 at that pace, we’re hard to guard.”
Behind the long-range shooting of Johnson, Nevada went on a 12-0 run midway through the second half to break open a tight game. Johnson also sealed it with a late free throw when the Falcons made a last-gasp charge.
Johnson’s scoring spurt was his best in a Nevada uniform, eclipsing his previous high of 20 points set against Tulsa on Nov. 22. He scored 26 for Portland before transferring.
“He’s been a guy off the bench we rely on to score buckets for us,” Musselman said. “They played a zone and so he did a great job of sprinting to the corner, getting his feet set.”
Air Force dropped to 4-85 against ranked opponents.