Friday, Feb. 10, 2017 | 2 a.m.
The UNR basketball team is historically good this season. To the Wolf Pack’s credit, they pulled out all the stops Wednesday for a showdown against UNLV.
After all, if you are finally light years better than your rival, and that rival has only barely acknowledged your existence for decades, then it’s a great idea to turn it into a big statement when you smell blood in the water.
UNR paid famed boxing announcer Michael Buffer $10,000 to deliver the pregame introductions, rolled out fancy “Battle Born” jerseys and drew a Lawlor Events Center record crowd for an embarrassing 104-77 butt-kicking of big brother.
UNLV, to its discredit, rolled over in surrendering more than 100 points. Yes, UNLV is historically bad this season. But come on? Triple digits to Reno? Ugh.
So, where does Wednesday rank all-time in low moments against UNR? Here are a few that come to memory — and all in football:
A day in 2011 Rebel fans would like to forget Caleb Herring, one week after surrendering a pair of interception returns for a touchdown against lower-level Southern Utah, completed just 1 of 14 passes for eight yards in a 37-0 loss at UNR. The Rebels had just 110 yards of offense in losing to Reno for the seventh straight season.
Run defense nonexistent Local kid Mike Ball had five touchdowns in 2009 for UNR and UNLV surrendered 559 rushing yards. One team was physical and wanted to win. The other didn’t.
How did they blow it? In 2012, UNLV had 17-point halftime lead and momentum on its side. But coaches got conservative with their offensive play calling in the second half, and UNR roared back to victory. It was arguably one of the toughest defeats against Reno to take because the Rebels hadn’t won the Fremont Cannon since 2004.
Other lopsided scores UNLV lost 54-17 in 1996, but the Rebels won just one game that year in its debut season in the Western Athletic Conference and started a true freshman quarterback Jon Denton. Aside from upsetting San Diego State for the lone win of the season, much didn’t fall the Rebels' way. And UNR was really good — it won nine games and played in the Las Vegas Bowl ... In 1991, the Rebels lost 50-8 to arguably the best UNR team of all-time. It played in the Division I-AA national championship game.
• • •
I didn’t see Wednesday coming. No, I didn’t think the Rebels would win in Reno. Few probably did. But losing by nearly 30 points? Never.
UNLV is 59-24 all-time against Reno, so there haven’t been many nights of sheer embarrassment.
We knew entering the season that rebuilding UNLV basketball would be painful. We also sensed that UNR had one of the better teams in the Mountain West. It provided to be a formula for disaster — one even the biggest UNLV skeptic, or UNR homer, couldn’t fully predict.
Unfortunately for us scarlet and gray alumni, as the Rebels (10-15) limp toward the end of the season on a five-game losing streak, there may be more nights like Wednesday in Nevada’s fourth-largest city.
It sucks losing, especially to Reno. And especially by more than four touchdowns on the hardwood.