No. 6 Nevada and Grand Canyon meet in Colangelo Classic
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Three of the nation's Top 10 teams will be showcased on Sunday at Talking Stick Resort Arena where Gonzaga, Tennessee and Nevada will participate in the inaugural Air Force Reserve Jerry Colangelo Classic.
First, the No. 1 Bulldogs take the stage against the No. 7 Volunteers. Then the No. 6 Wolf Pack take on the outlier of the group -- the non-ranked Grand Canyon Antelopes.
Nevada (9-0) is off to its best start in school history and is currently 5-0 during a six-game road trip, with 25 days between home games.
Caleb Martin leads the team averaging 19.3 points per game and is scoring 69 percent of his points in the second half.
Jordan Caroline is averaging almost a double-double scoring 18.2 points and grabbing 9.8 rebounds per game. Caroline has six double-doubles this season.
But no one should sleep on the 5-3 Antelopes, who are coached by Dan Majerle, who spent a good portion of his professional career in the Valley of Sun.
In two of their losses, Grand Canyon let a late lead slip away against Seton Hall and a slow start doomed the Lopes against Utah. Since then they have won two straight, defeating LaSalle and Boise State.
"We're at the point of our program - six years as a Division I team - that we expect to win every game," Majerle said after the Seton Hall loss.
Seton Hall coach Kevin Willard equally was impressed.
"What Dan has done there and what Grand Canyon has done with that program in such a short period of time is nothing short of a miracle," Willard said. "I think they have something really special going on there."
Eric Musselman has something special going on in Northern Nevada, as well. The Wolf Pack faced their real adversity of the season against No. 20 Arizona State in the Basketball Hall of Fame Classic on Friday night.
They trailed by 15 points -- 12 at halftime -- and showed their maturity and outscored the Wildcats 48-30 in the second half to win 82-76 -- their closest margin of the season.
"I thought they (Arizona State) came out as aggressive as any team we've seen," Musselman told reporters. "I thought coach (Bobby) Hurley did a phenomenal job of getting them ready to play from the opening tip."
Taking care of the ball was the difference for the Wolf Pack.
"Uncharacteristically, in the first half -- 10 turnovers; we usually have seven or eight in a game," Musselman told Reno Gazette Journal. "Once we got the lead ... we feel very, very comfortable under 6 minutes when we have a lead. They (Pack players) did a phenomenal job of milking the clock and playing the percentages down the stretch."
Usually a sound 3-point shooting team, the Wolf Pack had their troubles on Friday. The Antelopes shouldn't expect Nevada to connect on just 3 of 18 attempts from beyond the arc.
Majerle is confidant the Antelopes will be ready.
"I tell them that you don't have these opportunities very often," Majerle said. "You've got to take advantage of it. You've got to go in there to play hard and play to win. We'll play hard but it's going to be a great test for us.
"Everybody here knows we're good enough and capable of doing anything."
Updated December 9, 2018