LOUISIANA TECH BULLDOGS (6-12, 4-2 WAC)
at No. 18/15 NEVADA WOLF PACK (17-2, 5-1 WAC)
GAME NO. 20
Thurs., Jan. 25, 2007 - 7:05 p.m. PT - Lawlor Events Center (11,536) - Reno, Nev.
TELEVISION: wac.tv (live video streaming on the internet on a pay-per-view basis)
RADIO: Wolf Pack Sports Network (ESPN Radio 630 AM, Reno)
Dan Gustin (play-by-play) & Don Marchand (color)
Pregame, 6:20 p.m. PT
SERIES HISTORY: Nevada leads the series 8-3.
LAST MEETING: Nevada has won the last seven meetings between the two teams, most recently turning in a 50-49 victory over La Tech on Feb. 15, 2005 in Reno.
Coming off an 80-73 loss at New Mexico State on Saturday, the three-time defending Western Athletic Conference champion Nevada Wolf Pack (17-2, 5-1 WAC) returns home for a pair of games this week, starting with a Thursday night contest with Louisiana Tech (6-12, 4-2 WAC). Tip-off is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. on Thursday at Lawlor Events Center, where Nevada has won six consecutive games and 18 of its last 19 contests. Nevada is now tied for first in the WAC standings with a 5-1 record after having its 10-game overall winning streak and an 11-game road winning streak snapped last weekend at NMSU in the team’s third road contest in four games. Following the loss, the Wolf Pack dropped to 18th and 15th in this week’s Associated Press and ESPN/USA Today Coaches’ polls. The team also heads into this week’s action looking to extend a seven-game winning streak against the Bulldogs. Following Thursday’s game with Louisiana Tech, Nevada will play host to Utah State on Saturday, Jan. 27.
The Wolf Pack returned four starters from last year’s 27-6 team, including preseason All-American senior forward Nick Fazekas, senior guard Kyle Shiloh and junior guards Ramon Sessions and Marcelus Kemp. Under the direction of third-year head coach Mark Fox, the team also features four other returning letterwinners and six new faces (one redshirt freshman and five true freshmen). Nevada won its third straight WAC regular-season title last season and earned the team’s third consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance, garnering the league’s automatic NCAA bid after winning the 2006 WAC Tournament.
NEVADA IN WAC PLAY
With the Jan. 18 win over Fresno State, Nevada won its first five WAC games for the first time since joining the league in 2000-01 and now stands in a tie for first place in the league standings with a 5-1 mark. Nevada’s previous best WAC start came in 2004-05 when the team opened league play with wins in its first four WAC contests.
After turning in an 81-55 victory over Idaho on Jan. 6, Nevada now holds a 4-3 record in Western Athletic Conference openers since joining the league in 2000-01. The Wolf Pack has won four of its last five WAC openers with the only blemish coming last year when the team dropped a 73-69 overtime contest at Hawai’i on Jan. 5 in Honolulu. The Idaho game marked just the second time that the team opened WAC play at home in the last seven years, while with wins over Idaho and Boise State, Nevada opened WAC play with back-to-back wins for just the second time in its seven years as a member of the league,
After opening league play with a 3-3 mark last year, the Wolf Pack won its final 10 WAC games to finish with a 13-3 conference mark and its third consecutive WAC regular-season championship. In 2004-05, Nevada opened WAC play with four straight victories and won seven of its first eight league games en route to a WAC-record 16-2 overall mark and sole possession of the WAC championship. The team also won a share of the league title in 2003-04, tying for first with UTEP with a 13-5 mark.
ABOUT THE LOUSIANA TECH BULLDOGS
Louisiana Tech brings a 6-12 overall mark and a 4-2 WAC record into Thursday’s game with Nevada. The Bulldogs are tied with Utah State for third in the league standings through the first three weeks of WAC play at 4-2. La Tech has won its last two conference games, including a 73-71 overtime victory over New Mexico State on Jan. 17 and a 73-72 win at Idaho on Jan. 20. Under the direction of ninth-year head coach Keith Richard (146-109 record at LTU), the Bulldogs returned one starter and nine letterwinners from last year’s 20-13 team. La Tech tied for third in the WAC standings last year with an 11-5 league mark.
Senior forward Chad McKenzie (6-7, 210) and senior guard Trey McDowell (6-3, 180) are leading the Bulldogs in scoring with 12.8 and 12.6 points per game, respectively. The pair is ranked 12th and 15th in the WAC statistics in scoring. McKenzie is also the team’s leading rebounder, checking in at 6.9 boards per contest, which ranks ninth in the league stats. McDowell is shooting 49.7 percent from the field (eighth in the WAC) and is also the team’s leading three-point shooter, knocking down 31 3-pointers and 38.3 percent from beyond the arc.
IN THE SERIES
Nevada leads the series with Louisiana Tech 8-3. The Wolf Pack has won the last seven meetings with the Bulldogs and eight of the last nine, including the last three meetings at Lawlor Events Center. Last year, Nevada captured both of the regular-season meetings between the two teams, turning in a 65-53 win on Feb. 2 in Ruston and a 50-49 victory on Feb. 13 in Reno.
IN THE RANKINGS
Nevada has been featured in the national top 25 in the majority of the preseason polls again this year and checks in at 18th in the Associated Press poll and 15th in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches’ rankings released on Monday, Jan. 22. That marked a drop of three spots in the AP poll and two in the coaches’ poll with the team previously reaching the highest rankings in school history last week (15th-AP, 13th-coaches). Prior to this year, Nevada had climbed as high as 17th in the Dec. 5, 2005 AP poll last season.
The Wolf Pack appeared at 24th in the preseason Associated Press poll, released on Nov. 6, and checked in at 25th in the first ESPN/USA Today Coaches’ poll, released on Oct. 27. That marks the second consecutive season Nevada has been ranked in the preseason by both of the major polls after checking in at 22nd (AP) and 25th (coaches) prior to the 2005-06 season.
The Wolf Pack spent 11 weeks ranked in one of the two major national polls in 2005-06, climbing as high as 17th in the AP poll on Dec. 5 and as high as 21st in the coaches’ rankings four times during the year. The team ended up ranked 20th in the final Associated Press poll of the year.
In addition, Nevada has been picked to win the WAC and featured in the top 25 in the majority of the other preseason publications, including Lindy’s (19th), Street & Smith’s (20th), Sporting News (23rd), Collegehoopsnet.com (23rd) and CBS SportsLine (23rd).
WINNING AT LAWLOR
Including its Jan. 18 victory over Fresno State, Nevada has now won its last six home games and 18 of its last 19 games at Lawlor Events Center. With its loss to UNLV on Dec. 9, the Wolf Pack saw its 12-game home winning streak dating back to last year come to an end, marking the team’s first home defeat since a 59-53 loss to Utah State on Jan. 23, 2006. The Wolf Pack has turned in a 54-6 record at Lawlor Events Center since the start of the 2003-04 season (.900 winning percentage). In 2005-06, the Wolf Pack turned in a 17-1 record at Lawlor Events Center, setting the school record for home victories in a single season. That bested the 15 victories the team turned in during the 2003-04 season. The Wolf Pack also turned in the second-best home winning percentage in school history in 2005-06 (.944), second only to the perfect 15-0 record the team turned in during that 2003-04 campaign. The Wolf Pack has won 73.5 percent of its games at Lawlor Events Center since it opened in 1983-84 (255-92 all-time).
Nevada was listed as having the best home-court advantage in the WAC in this year’s Street & Smith’s Basketball Preview.
LAST TIME OUT
Justin Hawkins scored 19 of his career-high 29 points in the first half to help New Mexico State to an 80-73 victory over No. 15/13 Nevada Saturday night in Las Cruces, N.M.
NMSU had 23 offensive rebounds and consistently turned them into points to give second-year head coach Reggie Theus his first win over a Top 25 team. Hawkins added 11 rebounds - nine of them offensive.
Nevada, which had its 10-game winning streak snapped, got 21 points and seven rebounds from senior Nick Fazekas and a career high-tying 23 points from junior Ramon Sessions.
Hawkins' back-to-back offensive rebounds and layups sparked a 9-0 run by the Aggies midway through the second half that put New Mexico State in front 62-52 with less than eight minutes left. Elijah Ingram scored 14 points and Tyrone Nelson scored 12 for the Aggies, who have won 14 of their last 15.
Hawkins hit eight of his first nine shots and scored seven straight points in the first half to give the Aggies a 21-12 lead. Nevada countered with an 11-0 run sparked by Fazekas, who hit back-to-back 3-pointers in that stretch. The run ended with a free throw by Sessions for a 28-26 Wolf Pack lead, the team’s first, with 4:23 left in the first half.
The Aggies took the lead for good at 46-44 on a 3-pointer by Fred Peete with 13:49 left. The Wolf Pack got within 74-70 with 43 seconds left, but the Aggies held the team off by hitting 18 straight free throws in the final seven minutes.
The 2005 and 2006 Western Athletic Conference Player of the Year, senior forward Nick Fazekas returns for his senior year poised to finish his career as one of the most decorated players in school history. He is the preseason favorite to win his third consecutive WAC Player-of-the-Year honor and could become just the second player in league history to be named the WAC Player of the Year three times in his career (Utah's Keith Van Horn is the other).
A preseason first-team All-American by Athlon and Street & Smith's and one of 50 players on the preseason watch lists for both John Wooden Award and the Naismith Trophy, Fazekas has moved into the top 10 in nearly every Nevada career statistical category. The honorable-mention 2006-07 preseason Associated Press All-American scored 20 points in a Nov. 18 victory over Arkansas-Pine Bluff to become Nevada’s all-time leading scorer. He broke Edgar Jones’ 27-year-old record (1,877 points, 1975-79) and now has 2,158 career points, which ranks seventh on the WAC’s career scoring lists. Fazekas has already set Nevada's career record for blocked shots with 169, overtaking Jones who had 142 in his career. He has moved into first on the career list for field goals made with 791 and has also set the school record for free throws made with 469. With his five rebounds Dec. 12 vs. Saint Mary’s, he moved past Jones for second on the Nevada career rebounding list, while his 1,098 rebounds also rank sixth in the WAC career annals.
Fazekas suffered a severe ankle sprain Jan. 8 vs. Boise State and missed the first two games of his career at San Jose State on Jan. 11 and Hawai’i on Jan. 13. He returned to action Jan. 18 vs. Fresno State, turning in 20 points and 10 rebounds in 25 minutes while playing with a brace on the sore ankle and added 21 points on 9-of-12 shooting Jan. 20 at New Mexico State. Prior to the San Jose State game, he had played in all 114 previous games in his four years at Nevada and had started 102 career games, including the last 86 consecutive contests.
Fazekas has turned in double-doubles in 12 of his 17 games this season, including 24 points and 11 rebounds Dec. 22 at Akron and 18 points and 13 boards Dec. 28 against Maine. He just missed his 11th double-double of the year Dec. 30 vs. Gonzaga, turning in a game-high 24 points and nine rebounds despite fouling out with 5:15 to play. He had 19 points and 11 rebounds in just 20 minutes Jan. 6 vs. Idaho and turned in 14 points and nine rebounds in only 15 minutes before suffering the ankle injury Jan. 8 vs. Boise State. Fazekas scored 29 points and pulled down 10 rebounds in just 21 minutes in the season opener against Alaska-Anchorage and then 19 points and matched his career bests with 18 rebounds Nov. 15 at Oregon State. He pulled down 17 rebounds to go along with his 20 points in just 21 minutes vs. Arkansas-Pine Bluff, added 29 points and 14 rebounds Nov. 21 vs. UC Irvine and had 28 points and 15 rebounds Nov. 25 at Santa Clara. He saw his season-opening streak of five double-doubles come to an end Nov. 29 at Louisiana-Lafayette but turned in a team-best 21 points.
Currently, Fazekas is second in the WAC in scoring at 20.4 points per game, just behind Utah State’s Jaycee Carroll (21.1 ppg). After leading the nation for the first seven weeks of the season, Fazekas dropped into second in the NCAA in rebounding (11.6 boards per game) and has the WAC’s second-best field goal percentage (59.5 percent, 138-232). In addition to ranking second in the nation in rebounding to Arkansas-Little Rock’s Rashad Jones-Jennings (12.1 rpg), Fazekas also ranks 22nd in scoring and 30th in field goal percentage.
Fazekas turned in one of the finest seasons in school history in 2005-06. A third-team 2006 AP All-America selection, he led the WAC and ranked 16th in the nation in scoring with 21.8 points per game after pacing the conference with 20.7 points per game in 2004-05. With 721 points on the year, he also broke the school single-season scoring record, passing Ken Green’s 697 points in 1982-83. Fazekas finished first on the squad, second in the conference and 15th in the NCAA in rebounding with 10.4 boards per contest. He was one of 21 players in NCAA Division I basketball to average a double-double last year. He knocked down 52.9 percent of his field goal attempts (268-507), which was good for fourth in the WAC, and finished second in the league and 41st in the nation in free throw shooting at 84.6 percent (154-182). Fazekas added a team-best 49 blocked shots (third in the WAC at 1.48 per game).
In addition to winning the 2006 WAC Player of the Year Award and being named to the All-WAC first team, both for the second straight year, Fazekas was one of 22 finalists on the national ballot for the 2006 John R. Wooden Award and was a finalist for the Adolph Rupp Award. He was recognized on several All-America teams in addition to his AP honor and was named the 2006 United States Basketball Writers Association District VIII Player of the Year and earned National Association of Basketball Coaches All-District 13 first-team accolades.
FAZEKAS JOINS SOME ELITE COMPANY
With 19 points Dec. 12 vs. Saint Mary’s, Wolf Pack career-leading scorer Nick Fazekas has become the first player in school history and just the 12th player in the history of the Western Athletic Conference to score 2,000 points. His 17 rebounds Dec. 9 vs. UNLV made the senior forward the third player in school history and the 12th WAC student-athlete to reach the 1,000-rebound plateau. Fazekas is just the fifth player in the history of the conference to turn in both 2,000 career points and 1,000 career rebounds, joining Utah’s Keith Van Horn, Arizona’s Bob Elliott, Rice’s Michael Harris and Utah’s Josh Grant on that prestigious list.
According to research done by Jon Teitel of collegehoopsnet.com, Fazekas has a chance to become just the sixth player all time to score 2,000 points, pull down 1,000 rebounds and shoot 50 percent from the field and 80 percent from the line. Accomplishing that feat will put Fazekas in some very elite company, which includes Rick Barry, Larry Bird, Bill Bradley, Christian Laettner and Keith Van Horn.
With Nevada’s Dec. 16 win over Pacific, seniors Nick Fazekas and Kyle Shiloh became the winningest players in school history and now have 94 career victories, passing Kevinn Pinkney (2002-05) for the distinction. Since starting their Wolf Pack careers in 2003-04, Fazekas and Shiloh have played on teams that have amassed a 94-24 mark, including the 25-7 NCAA squad in 2004-05 and a 27-6 NCAA team last season. Pinkney was a member of four squads that turned in an 85-43 record, including an NCAA Sweet Sixteen season in 2003-04 (25-9 record).
KEMP ON A ROLL
Marcelus Kemp is a great shooter who can get on a roll, and that is just what the junior guard has done so far this season. Kemp has made 42.1 percent of his three-point attempts this season (48-114), good for fifth in the WAC statistics and 56th in the NCAA, and is third in the league in three-point field goals made (2.53). He has tied his career best with five three-pointers made in three games this season: in the Nov. 10 season opener vs. Alaska-Anchorage, at Oregon State on No. 15 and Jan. 11 at San Jose State. He also added four on Jan. 18 vs. Fresno State, draining 4-of-6 attempts from beyond the arc.
Kemp ranks second on the team, third in the WAC and 38th in the nation in scoring at 19.1 points per game. He is leading the league in scoring in conference-only games at 21.5 points per WAC game. Kemp also ranks ninth in the WAC in field goal percentage at 45.2 percent.
Kemp has led the team in scoring 10 times this year, including four of the last six games. That stretch has included 22 points Jan. 6 vs. Idaho, 27 Jan. 8 vs. Boise State, a season-best 33 Jan. 11 at San Jose State and 22 (15 in the second half) Jan. 18 vs. Fresno State. He has turned in at least 20 points in six of the last eight games (170 points, 21.3 ppg in that stretch) and a total of 10 this season, while his 33 points vs. the Spartans were just one point shy of his career-best 34 vs. Montana in the 2006 NCAA Tournament. With his 14 points Saturday at New Mexico State, Kemp became the 18th player in school history to join the 1,000-point club and now has 1,013 career points.
Kemp turned in 29 points, including 5-of-6 three-pointers, Nov. 15 at Oregon State and had 23 points on 9-of-18 shooting in the Nov. 21 victory over UC Irvine. He scored 21 Dec. 28 vs. Gonzaga and led the team with 19 points Dec. 16 vs. Pacific, making 4-of-8 attempts from beyond the arc.
Last season, Kemp finished second on the team and 11th in the WAC with 15.0 points per contest. He led the team with 52 treys made and shot 35.9 percent from beyond the arc.
NEVADA TURNS IN BEST START IN SCHOOL HISTORY
With a 17-1 record to open the season, Nevada turned in the best start in school history, besting the mark of the 1951-52 team which won 16 of its first 18 games, and now stands at 17-2. That 1951-52 team won its first 14 games, the best start without a loss, but dropped its next two games and finished with a 19-3 overall record.
Nevada turned in a 7-0 record to start the 2006-07 season and opened the year with seven straight wins for just the second time in school history prior to its Dec. 9 loss to UNLV. With the team’s Nov. 18 victory over Arkansas-Pine Bluff, Nevada won its first three games for the third consecutive season. The Wolf Pack won its first three games in 2004-05, while last year, the team started the season with six consecutive victories and won 10 of its first 11 tilts. The Wolf Pack’s only loss in its first 11 games last year was a 67-56 defeat by NCAA runner-up UCLA in the Dec. 10 Wooden Classic in Anaheim, Calif. The 6-0 starts by this and last year’s squads also marked the first time in school history that Nevada has opened the year with six straight wins in back-to-back seasons.
WOLF PACK SHOOTING THE BALL WELL
The Wolf Pack has shot the ball well from the field so far this year and turned in a season-high 59.6 percent shooting effort on Dec. 28 vs. Maine (34-57), including an impressive 64.0 percent showing in the second half (16-25). The team turned in its second-best showing of the season on Jan. 6 vs. Idaho, knocking down 56.6 percent of its shots (30-53).
Nevada ranks among the national and WAC leaders in field goal, free throw and three-point percentage. The Wolf Pack leads the league and ranks 10th in the NCAA in three-point percentage (41.9 percent, 144-344). Nevada also ranks second in the WAC and 26th in the country in field goal percentage (48.8 percent) as well as third in the WAC in free throw percentage (71.7 percent). Last year, Nevada shot 45.6 percent from the field and 36.0 percent from three-point land and made 71.4 percent of its attempts from the charity stripe.
Nevada has shot 50 percent or better in 10 of its 19 games this year and has made at least seven three-pointers in all but five games so far this year. The Wolf Pack knocked down a season-high 12 treys Jan. 11 at San Jose State, making 63.2 percent of its long-range attempts (12-19). The team had 11 treys Nov. 21 vs. UC Irvine (11-19) and against Jan. 18 vs. Fresno State (11-25) and turned in a season-best 71.4 effort from beyond the arc Dec. 12 vs. Saint Mary’s (10-14).
DISHING IT OUT
The Wolf Pack ranks second in the WAC and 39th in the NCAA in assists so far this season and has two players ranked in the top 10 in the league in the category. Nevada is averaging 16.32 assists per game and turned in a season-best 28 assists Dec. 28 against Maine.
With 81 assists so far this year, junior Ramon Sessions is ranked third in the WAC with 4.26 assists per game. Sessions turned in a season-high eight assists in the Dec. 16 win over Pacific. He had seven assists in the Nov. 21 victory over UC Irvine and matched that with seven (and no turnovers) Nov. 29 at Louisiana-Lafayette. Sessions has also dished out at least five assists in five other contests so far this year, including six on Dec. 28 vs. Maine and five Jan. 11 at San Jose State. Senior Kyle Shiloh is second on the team and tied for seventh in the league at 3.21 assists per game, while sophomore Lyndale Burleson is third on the team with 2.78 assists per contest and dished out a season-high tying six assists (with no turnovers) on Dec. 28 vs. Maine. Shiloh has averaged 3.9 assists per game in the last seven contests (27), including a season-high six Jan. 8 vs. Boise State, and is tied for fourth in the WAC with a team-best 3.83 assists per league contest.
On the preseason watch list for the Bob Cousy Collegiate Point Guard of the Year Award, Sessions has moved into fifth place in the Nevada career record books with 400 assists in just 82 career games (4.9 assists per game). Sessions has led the team in assists in each of his seasons at Nevada, setting both the school’s freshman (166) and sophomore (153) marks for assists. Last year, he ranked second in the WAC with 4.9 assists per game.
Sessions and Shiloh are also ranked in the top five in the WAC in assist-to-turnover ratio. Sessions is leading the WAC at 2.19 (81 assists-37 turnovers) and Shiloh is tied for fourth (1.85, 61-33), while Burleson would be leading the WAC at 2.50 (50 assists with just 20 turnovers) but falls just short of the league minimum of 3.00 assists per game. As a team, Nevada has the league’s best 1.20 assist-to-turnover ratio.
So far this season, Nevada is holding its opponents to 66.3 points and 31.7 rebounds per game, including a season-low 45 points and 24 rebounds Nov. 15 by Oregon State. That marked the fewest points since the Wolf Pack held Idaho to just 44 in a 70-44 victory on Jan. 12, 2006, while Nevada has won 45 of its last 47 games when holding its opponent to 60 points or less, including a 13-1 record last season and a 4-1 mark this year (most recently an 81-55 win over Idaho on Jan. 6).
Nevada ranks third in the league in scoring defense and second in rebounding defense this year. The squad is also allowing teams to shoot just 40.0 percent from the field and 31.2 percent from three-point land, marks which both rank second in the WAC. Nevada is also ranked 38th in the nation in field goal percentage defense. Oregon State made just 29.0 percent of its attempts and 14.3 percent of its three-point attempts on Nov. 15, while Santa Clara knocked down just 14.3 percent of its attempts from beyond the arc (2-14) on Nov. 25.
The Wolf Pack led the WAC in field goal percentage defense and three-point field goal percentage defense, ranked second in scoring defense and ended up third in rebounding defense in 2005-06. Nevada held teams to just 63.7 points per game, including a season-low 44 Jan. 12 by Idaho, and 34.1 rebounds per contest. The Wolf Pack allowed teams to shoot just 30.4 percent from beyond the arc and 40.1 percent from the field. The team also ranked 28th in the nation in field goal percentage defense. Nevada held 20 of its 33 opponents under 40 percent from the field in 2005-06, including a season-low 29.6 percent Jan. 12 by Idaho.
Nevada had its 11-game regular-season road winning streak snapped with last week’s 80-73 loss at New Mexico State. Including a 6-1 record this year, Nevada has now won its last 11 of its last 12 regular-season road games, including a 72-63 victory at San Jose State on Jan. 11 and a 68-66 overtime win at Hawai’i on Jan. 13. Included in that 11-game streak were seven straight WAC road victories. The team downed Oregon State 75-47 on Nov. 15 in Corvallis, Ore., edged Santa Clara 78-70 on Nov. 25, snapping an eight-game losing streak in the Broncos’ home gym, beat Louisiana-Lafayette 86-74 Nov. 29 in the Cajundome. Most recently, the Wolf Pack snapped Akron’s 21-game home winning streak, then the fourth-longest streak in the nation, with a 73-71 victory on Dec. 22 in Akron, Ohio. Nevada also won both of its first neutral-site games this season, downing California 77-71 on Dec. 3 in the Pete Newell Challenge and Gonzaga 82-74 on Dec. 30 in the Battle in Seattle.
The Wolf Pack has tallied a 27-6 record in road contests in the last three seasons (since the start of the 2004-05 season), including a 10-3 record on the road last season (6-2 WAC mark). The Dec. 3 contest against Cal in the Pete Newell Challenge ended a stretch of four of seven games away from Lawlor Events Center to start the year. That stretch included road games at Oregon State (Nov. 15), Santa Clara (Nov. 25) and Louisiana-Lafayette (Nov. 29) and the neutral-site contest vs. California.
Last year, Nevada opened the year with five of its first six games away from the friendly confines of the Lawlor Events Center (four road wins and a loss on a neutral floor vs. NCAA runner-up UCLA) and saw streaks of 14 straight road wins and 10 consecutive WAC road victories, which dated back to the 2004-05 season, come to an end.
FAZEKAS & KEMP NAMED WAC PLAYERS OF THE WEEK
Senior forward Nick Fazekas was named the Western Athletic Conference men’s basketball player of the week for Nov. 20-26, while junior guard Marcelus Kemp earned the honor for the week of Jan. 8-14. It marked Fazekas’ ninth career WAC Player of the Week award, while Kemp earned it for the second time in his career.
Fazekas averaged 28.5 points and 14.5 rebounds in a pair of wins last week. He scored 29 points, grabbed 14 rebounds, dished out three assists and blocked two shots in a win over UC Irvine on Nov. 21. On Saturday night, he added 28 points and 15 rebounds in a road game at Santa Clara. For the week, he was 20-of-33 (.606) from the field, 5-of-7 (.714) from 3-point range and 12-of-15 (.800) from the free throw line.
Kemp averaged 23.7 points, 5.3 rebounds and 2.3 assists in wins over Boise State, San Jose State and Hawaii. He scored 27 points, dished out five assists and grabbed six rebounds in a 90-86 win over Boise State on Jan. 8. On Jan. 11, he scored 33 points and pulled down eight boards in a 72-63 win at San Jose State. He followed that up with 11 points in an overtime win at Hawaii on Jan. 13.
PACK PICKED TO WIN WAC BY LEAGUE COACHES AND MEDIA
The Wolf Pack has been picked to win the Western Athletic Conference in 2006-07, while senior forward Nick Fazekas was named the Preseason WAC Player of the Year for the second consecutive season by the league’s coaches and media. Nevada received seven first-place votes and 63 points in the poll of the league’s nine head coaches, while the team received 199 points and 17 of 23 first-place votes in the media poll. The coaches and media also picked All-WAC teams with Fazekas being named to the first team by both groups and junior forward Marcelus Kemp earning second-team honors from the coaches.
The Wolf Pack returns four starters and a total of eight letterwinners from last year’s 27-6 team, including four of the team’s top five scorers, three of its top five rebounders and five of its top six assists leaders from one season ago. Returning starters include senior Nick Fazekas, senior guard Kyle Shiloh and junior guards Marcelus Kemp and Ramon Sessions. Other returning letterwinners include senior forward Denis Ikovlev, junior center David Ellis, junior guard Curry Lynch and sophomore guard Lyndale Burleson. Senior forward Demarshay Johnson was academically ineligible for the first semester and will redshirt this year.
Nevada’s roster features six faces in five true freshmen and one redshirt freshman. Freshman guard Brandon Fields (6-4, 185) comes to Nevada after earning all-state and all-region honors at Bowie High School in Arlington, Texas, while freshman forward Tyrone Hanson (6-6, 195) helped Bridgton (Maine) Academy to the New England Class A Prep Championship. Hanson is originally from New York City where he lettered all four years at St. Mary's High School. Originally from San Diego, Calif., freshman forward Matt LaGrone (6-8, 215) played basketball and football at McQueen High School in Reno last season and ranked third in the state in rebounding. A native of Flint, Mich., freshman forward JaVale McGee (6-11, 225) was the sixth-ranked player in the city of Chicago and earned second-team all-state honors at Hales Franciscan High School last year. His mother, Pamela, was a Kodak All-American who won NCAA titles at USC in 1983 and 1984, while his father, George Montgomery, played college basketball at Illinois and was drafted by the Portland Trailblazers. Redshirt freshman forward Richie Phillips (6-7, 220) will get his chance this year after redshirting in his first year at Nevada. He was a teammate of sophomore Lyndale Burleson at Franklin High School in Seattle, where he averaged 14 points and nine rebounds as a senior. Freshman forward Adam Carp (6-7, 188) is a walk-on who comes to Nevada from Clayton Valley High School in Clayton, Calif., and will redshirt this year.
Malik Cooke of Charlotte, N.C., and Armon Johnson of Reno, Nev., have signed national letters of intent to study and play basketball at the University of Nevada beginning in 2007-08, third-year head coach Mark Fox announced on Nov. 10.
A 6-5, 190-pound forward, Cooke is an all-state and all-league selection at Christ School in Arden, N.C. He averaged 19 points and 9.5 rebounds last year, while as a sophomore in 2004-05, he helped lead his team to a state title. He earned team MVP honors in 2005-06 after leading the Greenies to an 18-14 record, a tie for second place in the conference and a berth in the North Carolina state tournament.
Johnson is a 6-3, 190-pound guard out of Hug High School in Reno. Last season, he was named the Northern 4A Region Co-Player of the Year. He led the Northern Region in scoring at 30.4 points per game to go along with 7.6 rebounds, 4.3 assists and 2.4 steals per game. A first-team all-state selection, Johnson led the Hug Hawks to the Sierra League championship and the Class 4A state semifinals last season.
NEWS AND NOTES
- Nevada was outrebounded by New Mexico State 45-32 on Saturday, marking just the second time this year that the teem had been beaten on the boards. Hawai’i also outrebounded the Wolf Pack 42-33 on Jan. 13. The Aggies’ 45 rebounds were also a season high for a Wolf Pack opponent this year. Nevada holds a 15-1 record when outrebounding its opponents and is 1-1 when being outrebounded this season.
- The Wolf Pack shot a season-low 56.0 percent from the free throw line on Saturday at NMSU (14-25), while the Aggies made 28-of-34 free throws, both season highs for a Nevada opponent this year.
- Nevada has averaged 80.0 points per game in its last eight contests (640 points), up from a season average of 77.1 points per game. The team scored a season-high 90 points on Jan. 8 vs. Boise State, besting the previous high of 89 in its Dec. 28 over Maine. Nevada put 82 points on the board in the Dec. 30 win over Gonzaga, poured in 81 Jan. 6 vs. Idaho and had 85 on Jan. 18 vs. Fresno State. The Wolf Pack is averaging 77.1 points per game and is outscoring its opponents by a WAC-best 10.8 points per game this year (43rd in the country in scoring margin). The team also ranks second in the WAC in scoring offense.
- After averaging 4.7 points per game last season, junior Ramon Sessions is turning in an average of 13.8 points per contest this year, which ranks 10th in the WAC. He has turned in four 20-point games this year, most recently tying his career high with 23 points Saturday at New Mexico State. Sessions scored all 20 of his points in the second half in the Dec. 30 win over Gonzaga, turned 22 points on 8-of-12 shooting Dec. 22 at Akron, had 21 in the Jan. 8 win over Boise State and turned in a team-high 19 Jan. 13 at Hawai’i. Sessions is also shooting 49.1 percent from the field and 41.4 percent from three-point land (12-29) this season after turning in a 35.9 percent effort from the field and not making any treys one year ago (0-3).
- Over the last four-plus seasons, Nevada has turned in a 113-38 overall mark (.748), which is the most wins and is the second-best winning percentage of any WAC team during that time (second only to Utah State’s 108-34 record, .761). In conference games, the Wolf Pack has won 58 games, which is the most among league schools in that same time period. The next closest team is Fresno State, which has won 43 league contests.
- Senior Kyle Shiloh is tied for first in the WAC with an average of 1.74 steals per game this year. He also ranks seventh on the Wolf Pack career list with 120 career steals. Shiloh has turned in a season-best four steals five times this year (vs. Alaska-Anchorage, Arkansas-Pine Bluff, Idaho, Hawai’i and most recently Jan. 20 at New Mexico State).
- In addition to leading the team and ranking tied for fourth in the WAC in assists in league games (3.83), senior Kyle Shiloh is also leading the WAC in steals (2.50) in WAC contests. He is averaging 11.6 points per game in the last five games, including a season-best 18 Jan. 13 at Hawai’i.
- Nevada has won its 15 of its last 16 regular-season WAC games and 18 of its last 19 games against WAC opponents, including three WAC Tournament victories last season. The team won its last 10 WAC regular-season contests last year and five of its first six this year.
- Senior Denis Ikovlev scored a career-best 18 points in the Jan. 18 win over Fresno State, making six field goals and three three-pointers (both career highs). Ikovlev has started the first 19 games of this year (his first career starts) and is averaging 6.3 points and 4.1 rebounds per contest (up from averages of 1.8 points and 1.0 rebounds per game last year). He pulled down a career-best eight rebounds to go along with then career-high 10 points Dec. 12 vs. Saint Mary’s. Ikovlev has made at least one three-pointer in 15 of the first 19 games this year, including four games with more than one.
- The Jan. 13 victory over Hawai’i marked Nevada’s second overtime win in its last eight tries. It also marked the second straight year that Nevada had gone to overtime in Honolulu. Last year, the Wolf Pack turned in a 1-1 record in overtime games. Its win over Utah State in the championship game of the 2006 WAC Tournament snapped a string of six overtime losses dating back to the 2001-02 season.
- Senior Nick Fazekas ranks second in the WAC and 42nd in the NCAA in free throw percentage at 86.4 percent (51-58), while junior Ramon Sessions is sixth in the WAC in the category, knocking down 81.0 percent of his attempts this season (85-105), including a career-high 13-of-16 Jan. 8 vs. Boise State. Sessions shot just 56.8 percent from the free throw line last year (25-44).
- Nevada is outrebounding its opponents by a WAC-best average of 6.4 boards per contest, including a 54-24 advantage over Oregon State on Nov. 15 and a 45-26 edge Jan. 6 vs. Idaho. Nevada also ranks 29th in the NCAA in rebounding margin and holds a 15-1 record when outrebounding its opponents this season. Led by the nation’s No. 2 rebounder, senior Nick Fazekas (11.6 rpg), Nevada ranks in the top five in the WAC in all five rebounding categories so far this season: offense (3rd-38.1 rpg), defense (2nd-31.7), margin (1st-6.4), offensive (5th-11.79) and defensive rebounds (3rd-26.26).
- The Wolf Pack has won 31 of its last 34 contests, dating back to an 82-79 victory at Boise State on Jan. 26, 2006. The team has lost back-to-back games just five times since the start of 2003-04 season.
- The Wolf Pack’s 2006-07 schedule features 16 home games and contests with four schools that received NCAA Tournament bids one year ago (Cal, Pacific, Gonzaga and Utah State). The team will play in three special events this year: the Dec. 3 Pete Newell Challenge vs. California, the Battle in Seattle vs. Gonzaga on Dec. 30 and the ESPN BracketBusters on Feb. 17.
- Senior Nick Fazekas and freshman JaVale McGee are both ranked in the top 10 in the WAC in blocked shots. Nevada’s career leader in the category with 169, Fazekas is fourth in the WAC at 1.47 blocks per game. He tied his career best with four blocks on Dec. 12 vs. Saint Mary’s. McGee is ninth in the league at 1.05 swat per game with a career-best four Jan. 6 vs. Idaho.
- Third-year head coach Mark Fox won his 60th career game on Dec. 12 vs. Saint Mary’s. Fox is the first coach in school history to lead his squad to back-to-back 20-win seasons and holds a 69-15 career record in his three seasons at the helm of the Wolf Pack program (.821). Fox has been named the Don Haskins WAC Coach of the Year in each of his first two seasons as Nevada’s head coach.
- Five Nevada players made their Wolf Pack regular-season collegiate debuts in the team’s Nov. 10 season opener vs. Alaska-Anchorage, including true freshmen Brandon Fields, Tyrone Hanson, Matt LaGrone and JaVale McGee and redshirt freshman Richie Phillips.
Following Thursday’s game with Louisiana Tech, Nevada will wrap up its two-game homestand, playing host to Utah State on Saturday, Jan. 27. Next week, the Wolf Pack travels to Louisiana Tech on Wednesday, Jan. 31 and returns to Lawlor Events Center to take on Hawai’i in a nationally televised ESPN2 game on Saturday, Feb. 3.