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No. 6 Wolf Pack makes first return since historic 2017 win in the Pit

Caleb Martin, the All-American candidate guard for the No. 6 Nevada Wolf Pack, turned off the TV in his Reno apartment sometime in the second half on Jan. 7, 2017.

Sitting out per NCAA transfer rules that season along with twin brother Cody Martin, the brothers could only watch as their Wolf Pack teammates fell behind by 25 points to the UNM Lobos in Dreamstyle Arena – the Pit.

Cody, who kept watching in his bedroom, said on Wednesday night that he remembers trying to figure out the exact right way to sit in his chair that gave the team the best luck.

And while Caleb never saw the end, he still saw more of that game than current Lobos coach Paul Weir, who that season was coaching the New Mexico State Aggies and told the Journal on Friday he still has never seen any video of what happened that night.

It was hard to miss then and even today remains in the video montage of Scott Van Pelt’s weekly ESPN SportsCenter “Bad Beats” segment, referencing the almost comical (OK. not for Lobo fans) sequence of improbable events that led to that night’s outcome.

Saturday night at 6 in the Pit, the Wolf Pack plays its first game back in Albuquerque since that historic 25-point comeback against the Lobos (7-6, 1-0 Mountain West). For the Pack (14-0, 1-0), perfection and its No. 6 ranking in this week’s Associated Press Top 25 poll are both on the line.

And, if like Caleb Martin and Weir, you might need a quick refresher on what transpired down the stretch of that game, here you go:

• Nevada trailed by 25 with 11 minutes remaining in the second half

• Nevada hit seven 3-pointers in the final 1:49 of regulation to tie the game, several of which were banked in off the backboard

• Marcus Marshall hit four 3-pointers in the final 53 seconds to force overtime

• Jordan Caroline scored a Pit opponent’s record 45 points

• Nevada won 105-104 in overtime

Here’s the good news for the Lobos: Only three players who played in that game are expected to play Saturday, including seniors Anthony Mathis and Dane Kuiper.

The bad news is the other is Caroline, who admits that game played a big part in the building of what has become a mini-Mountain West dynasty in the past few season for Nevada, teaching the program how to finish games.

“(We learned) that on either side of the ball, the game is never over,” Caroline said. “If you’re up 20 it’s never over and if you’re down 20 the game is still never over. There’s a fine balance and the game can sway either way pretty quickly.”

The Lobos have been careful not to say much about the game that would serve to motivate the Nevada players, other than Mathis on Wednesday talking about embracing the opportunity to play such a great team on UNM’s home court.

And despite the non-conference struggles of the Lobos, Nevada expects the best shot the Lobos have, both from the players and an expected raucous crowd.

“Who’s not going to have confidence against a highly ranked team?” Cody Martin said. “Who’s not going to be jacked up to play them? You have to be ready and you have to be ready for their best punch. Everybody’s going to play their best game against us. That’s something we understand.”

TICKETS: As of midday on Friday, UNM said it had sold 11,750 tickets for the Nevada game. The ticket office will open at 2 p.m., four hours before tip-off.

UNIFORMS: The Lobos will be wearing new, state flag-themed jerseys as part of the “We are New Mexico Night” game promotion that will feature New Mexico-themed entertainment throughout the game and also a “Hispanic Heritage” halftime show presented by the Albuquerque Hispano Chamber of Commerce.

SATURDAY No. 6 Nevada at UNM, 6 p.m., ESPNU, 770 AM/94.5 FM

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