Johnson scores 27 as No. 17 Nevada beats Air Force 90-79
By PAT GRAHAM
AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. (AP) A bounce-back performance by Nevada was set to the swishing sound of Jazz.
The junior guard hit all the right notes.
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 Jordan 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," Nevada coach Eric Musselman said. "I thought we were really, really good offensively. When we knock down the 3 at that pace, we're hard to guard."
Up the road at Colorado State, Utah State clinched at least a share of the Mountain West title by beating the Rams in overtime. Nevada can join the Aggies atop the league standings by defeating San Diego State on Saturday. A win could also give the Wolf Pack the No. 1 seed in the conference tournament in Las Vegas.
"Should be a great atmosphere," Musselman said.
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.
"That's a good team. That's a real good team," Air Force coach Dave Pilipovich said. "Give a lot of credit to Nevada, a team that got beat on Saturday and were hungry coming in."
Nevada: Musselman's teams have been a resilient bunch, improving to 28-3 after a loss in his time at Nevada.
Air Force: The Falcons haven't beaten a ranked team since 2013.
The loss last weekend dropped Nevada from No. 12 to No. 17 in the rankings. This win, coupled with another one Saturday, would probably bump the Wolf Pack back up.
Fans in the cadet section didn't let Caroline forget about the trouble at Utah State, holding up a sign with "R.I.P" written in ink along with a picture of a fire extinguisher. The heckling fans went back and forth with Nevada big man Trey Porter, who put a hand to his ear to egg them on.
PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT
Johnson recently mixed up his drill work. Instead of making 10 shots from 10 spots, he's going with five in a row from 10 spots. That was at the request of his father.
"It forced me to stay efficient and just focus in on each shot," Johnson said.
THIS & THAT
The Falcons wore warmup tops to honor the Class of 1959. It was the first graduating class at the Academy. ... Pilipovich gave away 1,000 tickets for the game. .... Both Martin brothers had five assists.
Nevada: Wraps up the regular season Saturday by hosting San Diego State, a team that beat the Wolf Pack 65-57 on Feb. 20.
Air Force: Closes the regular season at Boise State on Saturday.
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Updated March 6, 2019