No. 17 Nevada's injury/tirade could linger for Air Force game
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Ahead of a Tuesday night trip to Air Force, No. 17 Nevada might still be feeling the effects of an emotion-laden defeat over the weekend.
Having fallen out of first place in the Mountain West Conference with an 81-76 loss to Utah State in Logan, Utah, on Saturday night, the Wolf Pack (26-3, 13-3 MW) could be without their second-leading scorer because of the postgame fallout.
Upset with being taunted by Aggies students -- and according to multiple reports, a Utah State assistant coach -- Nevada forward Jordan Caroline injured his hand when he broke the glass covering of a fire extinguisher in the runway leading to the locker room.
On a video that became viral late Saturday night on social media, a Wolf Pack staff member can also be heard cursing out security for not doing enough to protect players and coaches after Aggies students stormed the floor in celebration.
There was speculation that the conference might suspend Caroline for his tirade, but in a statement Monday, the conference said the episode stemmed not from security issues but from "inappropriate conduct by individuals from both programs in the postgame handshake line and subsequently in the locker room areas."
Any disciplinary measures were left to the respective teams, according to the statement.
Undetermined Monday was whether the hand injury would sideline Caroline, a senior forward who is averaging 18 points and a team-leading 9.6 rebounds per game.
What Nevada coach Eric Musselman and his players thought directly of the postgame situation or the Utah State loss itself wasn't known. They weren't made available following the defeat, which saw the Wolf Pack hit just 36.4 percent of its shots from the field and only 6 of 23 from the 3-point arc.
All three Nevada losses have occurred on the road, and while a second straight setback doesn't seem likely Tuesday night, this isn't your typical Air Force pushover.
The Falcons (13-15, 8-8) are coming off an 80-72 victory Saturday night at Wyoming, giving them their first three-game Mountain West winning streak in six years. Ryan Swan fired in a career-high 37 points, while Lavelle Scottie added 18 points and 10 rebounds.
"We're not afraid of Nevada coming in our house at all," Scottie told the Colorado Springs Gazette. "We can get any team. It doesn't matter who you are. You can be the No. 1 team in the country and we're going to give you a fight. That's our new identity. We're going to give every team a fight."
The 6-foot-7 Scottie is certainly equipped to live up to that promise. He is averaged 23.7 points over his last six games, helping Air Force become more offensive-minded than it has been for years. The Falcons own wins over the league's third-, fourth- and fifth-place teams.
Air Force certainly didn't roll over for the Wolf Pack on Jan. 19 in Reno. The Falcons took a 24-20 lead into halftime and were still in the game until an 11-0 run midway through the second half lifted Nevada to a 67-52 win.
Caroline had 19 points and eight rebounds that night. Scottie scored 15 for Air Force. Swan, the Falcons' second-leading scorer at 12.8 points per game, was in foul trouble all game and managed just seven points before fouling out.
--Field Level Media
Updated March 5, 2019