No. 11/10 NEVADA WOLF PACK (24-2, 11-1 WAC)
at IDAHO VANDALS (3-23, 1-12 WAC)
GAME NO. 27
Thurs., Feb. 22, 2007 - 7:05 p.m. PT - Memorial Gymnasium (1,500) - Moscow, Idaho
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)
Don Marchand (play-by-play)
Pregame, 6:20 p.m. PT
SERIES HISTORY: Nevada leads the series 27-22.
LAST MEETING: Nevada has won the last five meetings between the two teams, most recently turning in an 81-55 victory in Nevada’s WAC opener on Jan. 6 in Reno.
Following a 79-64 victory over Northern Iowa in Saturday’s O’Reilly ESPNU BracketBusters, the No. 11/10 Nevada Wolf Pack (24-2, 11-1 WAC) returns to league play to begin a three-game road stretch this week, traveling to Idaho (3-23, 1-12 WAC) on Thursday and to Boise State (15-12, 7-5 WAC) on Saturday. Thursday night’s game against the Vandals will be played at Idaho’s 1,500-seat Memorial Gym due to a jazz festival being held in the Kibbie Dome and will tip off at 7:05 p.m. Pacific Time. Ranked 11th in the Associated Press poll and 10th in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches’ poll for the second week in a row, the highest rankings in school history, Nevada has won seven consecutive games and 17 of its last 18 contests. With a 24-2 overall record, the fifth-most victories in school history, Nevada possesses the second-best winning percentage in the country (.923), behind just Wisconsin (.929. 26-2). The Wolf Pack holds a two-game lead in the WAC standings with an 11-1 league mark. The team looks to extend a five-game winning streak in the series with Idaho and improve upon its 8-1 road record this season. This year’s Wolf Pack is the fastest team in school history to reach 20 wins. The team has also turned in the program’s ninth 20-win season and its fourth consecutive, while with its next victory, Nevada also will reach 25 wins for the fourth straight campaign. Following Thursday’s game, Nevada will continue its road trip with a game at Boise State on Saturday, Feb. 24.
NEVADA IN WAC PLAY
With its Jan. 18 win over Fresno State, Nevada won its first five WAC games for the first time since joining the league in 2000-01. The Wolf Pack now holds an 11-1 mark in WAC play, which is good for a two-game lead in the league standings. Nevada has also won 11 of its first 12 WAC games for the first 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.
NEVADA NOTCHES ITS FOURTH CONSECUTIVE 20-WIN SEASON
With its 79-71 victory at Louisiana Tech on Jan. 31, Nevada notched its fourth consecutive season with at least 20 wins as well as the ninth 20-victory season in school history. The Wolf Pack is now 24-2 on the year, currently the second-best record in the nation, and has turned in the fifth-most wins in school history. The Wolf Pack has won at least 25 wins in each of its three previous seasons (25-9 in 2003-04, 25-7 in 2004-05 and 27-6 last year) and needs just one more victory this year to reach that mileston for the fourth consecutive campaign. With the team’s Feb. 13 win over San Jose State, Nevada turned in the team’s 100th win in the last four seasons. The Wolf Pack has now turned in a 101-24 record since the beginning of the 2003-04 season (.808 winning percentage).
With its Jan. 31 victory over La Tech, Nevada also reached 20 wins faster than any team in school history, needing just 22 games to achieve the milestone. Head coach Jake Lawlor’s 1945-46 squad won its 20th contest 24 games into the season en route to its school-record 28 wins (28-5 overall record that year). Last season, the Wolf Pack earned its 20th victory 25 games into the year in its BracketBusters win over Akron on Feb. 17, while the 2004-05 squad also took 25 contests to reach the 20-win milestone. Head coach Mark Fox is the first coach in school history to lead more than one team to at least 20 wins, doing so in each of his first three seasons.
NEVADA SINGLE-SEASON WINS RECORD
Year Record Head Coach
1945-46 28-5 Jake Lawlor
2005-06 27-6 Mark Fox
2004-05 25-7 Mark Fox
2003-04 25-9 Trent Johnson
2006-07 24-2 Mark Fox
1965-66 21-6 Jack Spencer
1978-79 21-7 Jim Carey
1984-85 21-10 Sonny Allen
1996-97 21-10 Pat Foster
BEST RECORDS IN THE NATION THIS SEASON
26-2 (.929) Wisconsin
24-2 (.923) Nevada
24-3 (.889) Florida
24-3 (.889) Ohio State
23-3 (.885) UCLA
23-3 (.885) Memphis
IN THE RANKINGS
Nevada has been featured in the national top 25 in the majority of the preseason polls again this year and has climbed to 11th in the Associated Press poll and 10th in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches’ rankings released on Monday, Feb. 19. That marks the second consecutive week that Nevada has held that position in both polls, the highest rankings in school history. 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).
ABOUT THE IDAHO VANDALS
Idaho brings a 3-23 overall record into Thursday’s game with Nevada and is ninth in the WAC standings with a 1-12 league mark. The Vandals have lost nine consecutive games, most recently falling at Louisiana Tech 68-59 on Feb. 14 and dropping a non-league contest vs. UC Riverside 81-76 on Feb. 17 in Moscow. Under the direction of first-year head coach George Pfeifer, Idaho returned two starters and four letterwinners from last year’s 4-25 team and added 10 newcomers to this season’s squad. The Vandals finished in ninth in the WAC last season with a 1-15 record.
Senior guard Keoni Watson (5-10, 180) is leading three Vandals in double figures for scoring with 17.4 points per game, which ranks fourth in the WAC statistics. He also ranks second in the WAC in three-point shooting, knocking down 40.7 percent from beyond the arc (55-135). Junior forward Darin Nagle (6-10, 221), a transfer from North Idaho College, is adding 10.6 points per contest and is Idaho’s top rebounder at 6.2 boards per game.
IN THE SERIES
Nevada leads the series with Idaho 27-22 and has won the last five meetings between the two former members of the Big West Conference. The Wolf Pack turned in an 81-55 victory over the Vandals in this year’s first meeting on Jan. 6 in Reno. Last season, Nevada won all three meetings between the two squads, including a 70-44 victory on Jan. 12 in Reno and a 74-68 win on Feb. 20 in Moscow in the regular season. Nevada also downed Idaho 68-55 on March 9 in the quarterfinals of the 2006 WAC Tournament at Lawlor Events Center in Reno. Nevada’s win in Moscow last season snapped the Wolf Pack’s three-game road losing streak in the series. Prior to last year, the two teams had previously played in 2000.
LAST TIME VS. IDAHO
Junior Marcelus Kemp scored 22 points and senior Nick Fazekas added 19 points and 11 rebounds to lead Nevada to an 81-55 victory over Idaho on Jan. 6 in the Wolf Pack’s WAC opener at Lawlor Events Center. Kemp made 8-of-13 from the field and Fazekas 7-of-8 for the Wolf Pack, who went on a 20-6 run late in the first half and shot 57 percent in the game.
Keoni Watson was the lone scorer in double figures with 19 for the Vandals, who were outrebounded 45-26 and shot only 31 percent from the field.
Nevada led 46-28 at the half and by as many as 32 points in the game. Senior Kyle Shiloh, junior Ramon Sessions, junior David Ellis and freshman Brandon Fields each scored seven points.
Fazekas scored eight consecutive points for Nevada early in the second half - three in a row off rebounds - and Kemp sandwiched a pair of 3-point plays around Ellis' hook shot for a 66-37 lead with 13:37 left in the game. The lead grew to 78-45 when Ellis converted a 3-point play then Burleson scored on a break off a pass from Shiloh at 6:56.
Kemp scored nine points in the first seven minutes of the game, including two 3-pointers. Watson followed a 3-point goal with a drive to the hoop to pull to 19-14 at 11:29.
But Nevada outscored the Vandals 20-6 over the next seven minutes, including consecutive 3-pointers by senior Denis Ikovlev, Sessions, Shiloh and Fazekas, and went ahead 39-20 on Sessions' basket inside off an inbounds pass at 4:29.
Trevor Morris ended the Wolf Pack's 9-0 run with an 18-footer then Michael Crowell made a 3-pointer and Mitchell Johnson scored inside, was fouled and made the free throw to make it 43-28 but Kemp converted a 3-point play of his own with 18 seconds on the clock to make it 46-28.
LAST TIME OUT
Trailing at halftime for just the sixth time this season, Nevada started the second half with 10 consecutive points and pulled away to defeat Northern Iowa 79-64 in Saturday’s ESPNU O’Reilly BracketBusters game in Reno.
Junior Marcelus Kemp led the way with 18 points, nine rebounds and six assists, senior Nick Fazekas had 17 points and eight rebounds, and senior Kyle Shiloh scored all 16 of his points in the second half for Nevada. Junior Ramon Sessions was the fourth Nevada player in double figures, scoring 14 points with six assists for the Wolf Pack.
Eric Coleman had 16 points and Grant Stout 10 for the Panthers, who led at the half 33-32.
With UNI double-teaming Fazekas, the Wolf Pack made 62.5 percent of their shots from the field in the second half and 51 percent in the game. They made 9-of-18 from behind the 3-point arc, including 4-of-8 by Shiloh.
Nevada started the second half with Fazekas' baby hook, consecutive 3-point goals by Shiloh and senior Denis Ikovlev, and a pair of free throws from Sessions to go ahead 42-33 at 17:30.
Coleman stopped the run with a basket inside, but Sessions scored again, then JaVale McGee and Sessions had back-to-back tip-ins to make it 48-35 lead with 15:10 left in the game. Coleman again stopped the run, this time with a pair of free throws, but Shiloh hit consecutive 3-pointers to make it 54-37 at 13:43.
After Sessions laid the ball in off an alley oop from Kemp, Shiloh made another three and Kemp added a pair of free throws for a 66-45 lead at 8:39. UNI freshman Jordan Eglseder answered with a 3-point goal and Jared Josten made a layup to pull within 66-50 at 7:45.
But Nevada ran off five in a row to make it 71-50 on Fazekas' layup with 5:11 left and put the game away with its biggest lead on his two free throws at 2:27, 77-54.
The Panthers scored eight in a row, including four by Coleman on a left-handed slam dunk over Fazekas and a 14-footer to tie it 17-17 midway through the first half. They went ahead 28-26 when freshman Jordan Eglseder followed a pair of free throws with a basket off a rebound at 5:07.
Ikovlev of Postville, Iowa, hit a 3-point goal to help Nevada regain the lead but Jared Josten made a 19-footer then made two free throws with one second on the clock for UNI's 33-32 halftime lead. Ikovlev finished with nine points on 3-of-3 shooting from long range.
With Nevada’s Dec. 16 win over Pacific, seniors Nick Fazekas and Kyle Shiloh became the winningest players in school history, passing Kevinn Pinkney (2002-05) for the distinction. The pair now has 101 career victories to their credit. Since starting their Wolf Pack careers in 2003-04, Fazekas and Shiloh have played on teams that have amassed a 101-24 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).
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). He has been named a 2007 Wooden Award Midseason All-American and is under consideration for that prestigious National Player of the Year award. Fazekas is also one of 30 candidates for the 2007 Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award, presented annually to an NCAA Division I male senior basketball player who excels both on and off the court, and was one of 50 players on the preseason watch list for the 2007 Naismith Trophy.
A preseason first-team All-American by Athlon and Street & Smith's, Fazekas has moved into the top five 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 2,306 career points, which ranks fifth on the WAC’s career scoring lists (just five points out of fourth place). Fazekas has already set Nevada's career record for blocked shots with 181, overtaking Jones who had 142 in his career. He has moved into first on the career list for field goals made with 845 and has also set the school record for free throws made with 504. With his five rebounds Dec. 12 vs. Saint Mary’s, he moved past Jones for second on the Nevada career rebounding list, while his 1,175 rebounds also rank fourth 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 86 consecutive contests. The senior has now played in 123 career games with 111 starts.
Fazekas has turned in double-doubles in 16 of his 24 games this season and has scored in double figures in 54 consecutive games, dating back to last season. That marks the fourth-longest double-figures streak in the country. Fazekas scored a season-high 33 points to go along with 15 rebounds Feb. 8 at Fresno State and had 20 points and 10 boards Feb. 14 vs. San Jose State. He had 24 points and a career high-tying 18 rebounds Jan. 27 vs. Utah State and 21 points and 10 rebounds Feb. 3 vs. Hawai’i. He 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 best 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. Fazekas also turned in a game-high 24 points and nine rebounds despite fouling out with 5:15 to play on Dec. 30 vs. Gonzaga.
Currently, Fazekas is second in the WAC in scoring at 20.6 points per game, behind Utah State’s Jaycee Carroll (21.1 ppg). After leading the nation for the first seven weeks of the season, Fazekas is now first in the WAC and fourth in the NCAA in rebounding (11.5 boards per game) and has the WAC’s second-best field goal percentage (58.0 percent, 192-331). In addition, Fazekas also ranks 18th in the nation in scoring and 31st 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 for the 2006 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.
Nation’s Longest Current Double Figure Scoring Streaks (through Feb. 19)
60 Trey Johnson, Jackson State
56 Caleb Green, Oral Roberts
54 Nick Fazekas, Nevada
51 Brandon Heath, San Diego State
Nation’s Career Active 20-Point Leaders (through Feb. 19)
60 Nick Fazekas, Nevada
59 Caleb Green, Oral Roberts
58 Gary Neal, Towson
51 Larry Blair, Liberty
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.
Including a 8-1 record this year, Nevada has now won its last 14 of its last 15 regular-season road games. The team also holds a 4-1 record in WAC road contests this season, while counting this year’s two neutral-site victories, the Wolf Pack holds a 10-1 record away from home this season.
Nevada had an 11-game regular-season road winning streak snapped with its Jan. 20 loss at New Mexico State. Included in that 11-game streak were seven straight WAC road victories, including a 72-63 victory at San Jose State on Jan. 11 and a 68-66 overtime win at Hawai’i on Jan. 13. 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. The Wolf Pack also 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 Seattle.
The Wolf Pack has tallied a 29-6 record in road contests in the last three seasons (82.9 percent 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, Santa Clara and Louisiana-Lafayette 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.
SCHOOL IS IN SESSIONS
After averaging 4.7 points per game last season, junior Ramon Sessions is turning in an average of 13.2 points per contest this year, which is tied for 12th in the WAC. He has led the team in scoring in four games this year, including 21 points on 8-of-12 shooting Jan. 25 vs. La Tech and a career high-tying 23 points Jan. 20 at New Mexico State.
Sessions has turned in five 20-point games this season and a total of six in his career. He scored all 20 of his points in the second half in the Dec. 30 win over Gonzaga, turned in 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, who is also leading the team in assists for the third consecutive season, is shooting 48.1 percent from the field and 41.0 percent from three-point land (16-39) this season after turning in a 35.9 percent effort from the field and not making any treys one year ago (0-3).
DISHING IT OUT
The Wolf Pack ranks second in the WAC and 23rd 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 16.85 assists per game and turned in a season-best 28 assists Dec. 28 against Maine. The team has been efficient in its last five home games, turning in 94 assists on 130 field goals in that stretch, including 19 on 24 Feb. 14 vs. San Jose State.
With 120 assists so far this year, junior Ramon Sessions is ranked third in the WAC with 4.62 assists per game. Sessions turned in a season-high eight assists in the Dec. 16 win over Pacific and matched that Feb. 8 at Fresno State. He had seven assists in the Nov. 21 victory over UC Irvine, seven (and no turnovers) Nov. 29 at Louisiana-Lafayette and seven Jan. 27 vs. Utah State. Sessions has also dished out at least five assists in eight other contests so far this year, including six Saturday vs. Northern Iowa. Senior Kyle Shiloh is second on the team and tied for eighth in the league at 3.19 assists per game, while junior Marcelus Kemp is third on the team with 2.42 assists per contest, including six in each of the last two games. Shiloh has turned in a season high six assists twice this year, including six assists with no turnovers Jan. 27 vs. Utah State.
One of 17 national finalists for the Bob Cousy Collegiate Point Guard of the Year Award, Sessions has moved into fifth place in the Nevada career record books with 438 assists in just 89 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 2.26 (120 assists-53 turnovers) and Shiloh is fourth (1.78, 83-48), while sophomore Lyndale Burleson would be ranked in the WAC’s top five at 2.23 (58-26) but falls short of the league minimum of 3.00 assists per game. As a team, Nevada has the league’s best 1.28 assist-to-turnover ratio.
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 40.5 percent of his three-point attempts this season (62-153), good for third in the WAC statistics, and is also third in the league in three-point field goals made (2.38). 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 Nov. 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, and made 4-of-7 Feb. 3 vs. Hawai’i.
Kemp ranks second on the team, third in the WAC and 62nd in the nation in scoring at 17.9 points per game. Kemp also ranks eighth in the WAC in field goal percentage at 45.5 percent. Kemp has led the team in scoring 13 times this year, including seven of the last 13 games. That stretch includes 22 points Jan. 6 vs. Idaho, 27 Jan. 8 vs. Boise State, a season-best 33 Jan. 11 at San Jose State, 22 (15 in the second half) Jan. 18 vs. Fresno State, 20 Jan. 31 at La Tech, 23 Feb. 3 vs. Hawai’i (16 in the second half) and 18 Saturday vs. Northern Iowa.
Kemp has turned in at least 20 points in eight of the last 14 games (258 points, 18.4 ppg in that stretch) and a total of 12 this season, while his 33 points Jan. 11 vs. the Spartans were just one point shy of his career-best 34 vs. Montana in the 2006 NCAA Tournament. With his 14 points Jan. 20 at New Mexico State, Kemp became the 18th player in school history to join the 1,000-point club and now has 1,101 career points, which ranks 14th on the all-time Nevada scoring lists.
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 year, Kemp was 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 24-2. 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 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 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) and made 56.4 percent of its attempts Jan. 25 vs. La Tech (31-55).
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 (41.2 percent, 195-473). Nevada also ranks first in the WAC and 18th in the country in field goal percentage (48.8 percent) as well as second in the WAC and 27th in the NCAA in free throw percentage (74.0 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 15 of its 26 games and has made at least seven three-pointers in all but seven games this year. The Wolf Pack knocked down a season-high 12 treys Jan. 11 at San Jose State, making 63.2 percent of its attempts (12-19). The team had 11 treys Nov. 21 vs. UC Irvine (11-19) and 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).
So far this season, Nevada is holding its opponents to 66.1 points and 31.2 rebounds per game, including a season-low 45 points by Oregon State on Nov. 15 and 23 rebounds by La Tech on Jan. 25. 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 46 of its last 48 games when holding its opponent to 60 points or less, including a 13-1 record last season and a 5-1 mark this year (most recently a 68-60 win over San Jose State on Feb. 14).
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 40.6 percent from the field and 31.6 percent from three-point land, marks which rank fourth and third in the WAC, respectively. Nevada is also ranked 41st 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 (28th in the nation). 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.
WINNING AT LAWLOR
Including Saturday’s BracketBusters win over Northern Iowa, Nevada has now won its last 11 home games and 23 of its last 24 contests at Lawlor Events Center. The team is 14-1 at home this season. 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 59-6 record at Lawlor Events Center since the start of the 2003-04 season (.908 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 73.8 percent of its games at Lawlor Events Center since it opened in 1983-84 (259-92 all-time).
Nevada was listed as having the best home-court advantage in the WAC in this year’s Street & Smith’s Basketball Preview.
SELL-OUT CROWDS AT LAWLOR EVENTS CENTER
Nevada’s Feb. 17 game with Northern Iowa marked Nevada’s fifth sell-out crowd of the season, while the team’s final home game vs. New Mexico State on March 3 also has already sold out. The Wolf Pack also sold out games vs. UNLV (Dec. 9), Fresno State (Jan. 18), Utah State (Jan. 27) and Hawai’i (Feb. 3) this season. The team came within 100 tickets of a sell-out on Feb. 14 vs. San Jose State.
Nevada is averaging 8,732 fans per home game this season, which ranks third among WAC teams, while an average of 9,394 fans have seen each WAC contest this year. The Wolf Pack has turned in four of the top 15 crowds in school history this season, including a season-high 11,368 fans on Dec. 9 vs. UNLV.
NEWS AND NOTES
- The WAC’s top three-point shooting team this year at 41.2 percent, Nevada has already made 195 three-points this season. The team needs just 19 treys to tie the school record for single-season three-pointers made. The 1996-97 Wolf Pack squad made a school-record 214 three-pointers.
- Senior Kyle Shiloh has averaged 16.7 points per game in his last three games, including a season-high 18 Feb. 8 at Fresno State and 16 in both of last week’s games vs. San Jose State and Northern Iowa. He also turned in the first double-double of his career at Fresno State, matching his season high with 18 points and pulling down the career-best 11 rebounds. All 16 of Shiloh’s points came in the second half Saturday vs. Northern Iowa.
- Nevada trailed at the half 33-32 Saturday vs. Northern Iowa, marking the second consecutive contest that the team has overcome a second-half deficit. The Wolf Pack is now 5-1 this year when trailing at halftime.
- The Wolf Pack was outrebounded by the Panthers 33-31, marking just the fourth time this year that the team has been outrebounded (Jan. 13 vs. Hawaii, Jan. 20 vs. NMSU, Feb. 3 vs. Hawai’i). The team has won three of those four contests.
- The team holds a 20-1 record when outrebounding its opponents this season and is outboarding its opponents by a WAC-best 6.8 rebounds per game this year. Led by the nation’s No. 4 rebounder, senior Nick Fazekas (11.5 rpg), Nevada ranks in the top five in the WAC in all five rebounding categories so far this season: offense (T3rd-38.0 rpg), defense (2nd-31.2), margin (1st-6.8), offensive (5th-11.77) and defensive rebounds (3rd-26.19). Nevada also ranks 15th in the NCAA in rebounding margin.
- The Wolf Pack pulled down a season-high 56 rebounds Feb. 8 at Fresno State and outrebounded the Bulldogs by 29 boards (56-27). That marked the team's second-highest rebounding margin of the year with the Wolf Pack only outrebounding Oregon State by more (54-24) on Nov. 15.
- Seniors Kyle Shiloh and Denis Ikovlev both notched career highs in rebounding Feb. 8 at Fresno State with Shiloh pulling down 11 and Ikovlev grabbing nine boards, while junior Marcelus Kemp tied his rebounding best with nine Saturday vs. Northern Iowa.
- Nevada has shot 80.6 percent from the free throw line in its last four games (79-98), including a season-high 95.2 percent Feb. 3 vs. Hawai'i (20-21). As a team, Nevada ranks second in the WAC and 27th in the NCAA in free throw percentage at 74.0 percent.
- Senior Nick Fazekas ranks second in the WAC and 27th in the NCAA in free throw percentage at 86.9 percent (86-99), including a 7-of-7 effort Saturday vs. Northern Iowa. Junior Ramon Sessions is third in the WAC in the category, knocking down 82.5 percent of his attempts this season (104-126), including a career-high 13-of-16 Jan. 8 vs. Boise State, while junior Marcelus Kemp checks in at ninth at 76.2 percent (77-101). Sessions shot just 56.8 percent from the free throw line last year (25-44).
- The Wolf Pack has now turned in a 13-2 record in games decided by 10 points or less this year, including a 4-0 mark in contests decided by five points or less.
- The Wolf Pack is outscoring its opponents by a WAC-best 10.9 points per game this year (21st in the country in scoring margin). The team also ranks second in the WAC in scoring offense with an average of 77.0 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.
- The Wolf Pack and third-year head coach Mark Fox have turned in a combined 27-3 record over the final two months of the season (February and March) in the last two-plus years, including a 19-0 mark in the month of February.
- Over the last four-plus seasons, Nevada has turned in a 120-38 overall mark (.759), 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 112-35 record, .762). In conference games, the Wolf Pack has won 63 games, which is the most among league schools in that same time period. The next closest team is Fresno State, which has won 46 league contests.
- Senior Kyle Shiloh is fourth in the WAC with an average of 1.54 steals per game this year. He ranks seventh on the Wolf Pack career list with 127 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).
- Nevada has won its 21 of its last 22 regular-season WAC games and 24 of its last 25 games against WAC opponents, including three WAC Tournament victories last season. The team won its last 10 WAC regular-season contests last year and has won 11 of its first 12 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 3-pointers (both career highs). Ikovlev has started all 25 games this year (his first career starts) and is averaging 6.5 points and 4.0 rebounds per contest (up from averages of 1.8 points and 1.0 rebounds per game last year). He pulled down a career-best nine rebounds to go along with 12 points Feb. 8 at Fresno State, while he had 10 points and eight rebounds Dec. 12 vs. Saint Mary’s. Ikovlev has made at least one three-pointer in 20 of 26 games this year, including seven games with more than one. He tied his career best with three treys on Jan. 25 vs. La Tech, going 3-of-4 from beyond the arc, and did it again Saturday vs. Northern Iowa (3-3).
- Nevada got 23 points from its bench on Jan. 25 vs. Louisiana Tech, including seven points from freshman Brandon Fields and six from freshman Tyrone Hanson. Hanson also tied his career high with two three-pointers made. That marked the most bench points since the team turned in 23 Jan. 6 vs. Idaho and 27 points Dec. 28 vs. Maine. Fields and Hanson each scored a career-best eight points in the victory over Maine. McGee also tied his career high with eight points on 4-of-4 shooting Jan. 31 at Louisiana Tech, while Fields added six points vs. the Bulldogs.
- 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.
- The Wolf Pack has won 38 of its last 41 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 ESPNU 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 181, Fazekas is third in the WAC at 1.54 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 1.00 swat per game with a career-best four Jan. 6 vs. Idaho.
- Third-year head coach Mark Fox won his 75th career game on Feb. 14 vs. San Jose State and and now holds a 76-15 career record in his three seasons at the helm of the Wolf Pack program (.835). Last year, Fox became the first coach in school history to lead his squad to back-to-back 20-win seasons (and now a third straight) and was 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 at Idaho, Nevada will continue its three-game WAC road stretch, traveling to Boise State on Saturday, Feb. 24 and to Utah State on Thursday, March 1. The Wolf Pack will wrap up the regular season on Saturday, March 3, playing host to New Mexico State at Lawlor Events Center. Nevada will honor its three seniors - Nick Fazekas, Denis Ikovlev and Kyle Shiloh - prior to the New Mexico State contest.