NEW MEXICO STATE AGGIES (16-12, 9-3 WAC) at NEVADA WOLF PACK (17-10, 9-4 WAC)
GAME NO. 28
Thursday, Feb. 28, 2008 - 7:05 p.m. PT - Lawlor Events Center (11,536) - Reno, Nev.
TELEVISION: Live video streaming at www.nevadawolfpack.com (subscription basis)
RADIO: Wolf Pack Sports Network (ESPN Radio 630 AM, Reno)
Dan Gustin (play-by-play) & Don Marchand (color analyst)
Pregame, 6:35 p.m. PT
SERIES HISTORY: New Mexico State leads the all-time series 14-10.
LAST MEETING: Nevada has won the last two meetings between the two teams, including an 87-78 victory on Jan. 24 in Las Cruces, N.M.
Coming off a 74-49 loss in Saturday’s BracketBusters game at Southern Illinois, the four-time defending Western Athletic Conference champion Nevada Wolf Pack (17-10, 9-4 WAC) resumes conference play this week, playing host to second-place New Mexico State (16-12, 9-3 WAC) on Thursday night and Louisiana Tech (4-21, 1-11 WAC) on Saturday evening. Winners of four of its last six games and nine of its last 13, Nevada stands in third place in the WAC standings with a 9-4 league mark but is just one game behind first-place Boise State (10-4). The Wolf Pack has won its last four home games and 18 of its last 19 WAC regular-season home games and looks to extend a streak of three consecutive home wins over New Mexico State. Following this week’s home games, Nevada ends the regular season Saturday, March 8 at Fresno State before heading to Las Cruces, N.M., for the 2008 WAC Tournament March 11-15.
Under the direction of fourth-year head coach Mark Fox, the Wolf Pack returned one starter and a total of eight letterwinners from last year’s school-record 29-5 team, including 2007 first-team All-WAC selection Marcelus Kemp. This year’s team also features four new faces (one redshirt freshman, a sophomore transfer and a pair of true freshmen). Last season, Nevada set the school single-season record for victories with 29, turned in its fourth consecutive year with at least 25 wins, won its fourth straight WAC regular-season title and earned the team’s fourth consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance.
NEVADA TOP WAC TEAM OVER LAST FOUR YEARS
Over the last four-plus seasons dating back to 2003-04, Nevada has turned in a 123-37 record, the best record of any WAC team during that time (.769 winning percentage). In conference games, Nevada has won 65 games, the most in that same time period.
WINNING AT LAWLOR
The Wolf Pack has won 35 of its last 38 contests at Lawlor Events Center, including 10 of its last 11 home games. With its 15-1 home record last year and a 11-2 mark this season, the Wolf Pack has turned in a 71-8 record at Lawlor Events Center since the start of the 2003-04 season (.899 winning percentage). Nevada’s loss to California on Nov. 28 snapped the team’s 13-game home winning streak. The streak had been the longest active home winning streak in the WAC and the 12th-longest in the nation. Prior to the Cal loss, had not dropped a home contest since falling to UNLV on Dec. 9, 2006.
Nevada has now won 18 of its last 19 WAC home games. A Jan. 19 loss to Boise State snapped the Wolf Pack’s 14-game winning streak in WAC home games, including a perfect 8-0 mark one year ago and a 2-0 mark to start this season (now 5-1). That 14-game win streak had dated back to January of 2006, while counting Nevada’s three wins in the 2006 WAC Tournament, the team had won its last 17 games against WAC opponents in the friendly confines of Lawlor Events Center prior to the loss to the Broncos.
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 74.5 percent of its games at Lawlor Events Center since it opened in 1983-84 (272-93 all-time).
ABOUT THE NEW MEXICO STATE AGGIES
New Mexico State has turned in a 16-12 overall record and is second in the WAC standings with a 9-3 conference mark so far this season. The Aggies have won their last five games and six of their last seven games. Last week, NMSU turned in an 80-48 victory over Long Beach State in its BracketBusters matchup on Feb. 23 in Las Cruces. The week before, the Aggies turned in a home sweep of Idaho and Boise State, downing the Vandals 88-49 on Feb. 9 and Boise State 99-80 on Feb. 9. Under the direction of first-year head coach Marvin Menzies, NMSU returned three starters and seven letterwinners from last year’s 25-9 NCAA Tournament team. The Aggies finished second to the Wolf Pack in the WAC standings with an 11-5 league mark one year ago.
Senior guard/forward Justin Hawkins (6-7, 205) is leading New Mexico State and ranked fifth in the WAC in scoring with 17.0 points per game. Hawkins is one of six Aggies in double figures for scoring this year. Sophomore guard Jonathan Gibson (6-2, 180) is second in the team in scoring at 12.6 points per game and is leading the Aggies in three-point percentage (.427, seventh in the WAC) and three-pointers made (64, 5th in the WAC with 2.29 treys per game). Hawkins paces New Mexico State and checks in at fifth in the league in rebounding with 7.2 boards per contest. As a team, the Aggies are first in the WAC in rebounding offense (40.7 rpg) and margin (+8.8) and rank second in the league in scoring at 78.1 points per game.
IN THE SERIES
New Mexico State holds a 14-10 advantage over Nevada in the series between the two former members of the Big West Conference, while the Wolf Pack has won the last two games in the series and five of the last six. Nevada has also won the last three meetings between the two teams played in Reno. Nevada took this year’s first meeting, downing NMSU 87-78 on Jan. 24 in Las Cruces, N.M. Last year, the two teams split a pair of regular-season meetings with each team winning on its own home court. The Aggies turned in an 80-73 victory on Jan. 20, 2007 in Las Cruces, N.M., while the Wolf Pack captured a 69-65 win on March 3, 2007 in Reno.
LAST TIME OUT VS. NEW MEXICO STATE
Sophomore Brandon Fields scored 21 points to lead the Nevada Wolf Pack to a 87-78 win over New Mexico State on Jan. 24 in the Pan American Center in Las Cruces. Nevada maintained its 11-point 36-25 halftime lead against the Aggies to secure a valuable road win.
The Wolf Pack led by 18 points with 4:39 remaining in the game, and despite a 19-point performance by freshman Jahmar Young, the Aggies couldn't cut the deficit.
The Wolf Pack was anchored by four players with double-digit scoring, including Fields and freshman Armon Johnson, who finished with 20 points. Nevada's leading scorer, senior Marcelus Kemp, had 17 points and sophomore JaVale McGee added 12 points.
NMSU's offensive effort was led by Young and senior Justin Hawkins, who ended the night with 18 points and seven rebounds.
LAST TIME OUT
Randal Falker scored 13 of his game-high 17 points in the second half to lead Southern Illinois to a 74-49 victory over Nevada on Saturday in Carbondale, Ill.
Matt Shaw added 13 points and 8 rebounds for Southern Illinois, while Tyrone Green had 11 points - hitting 5-of-6 from the free throw line - and added four assists. The Salukis were 14-of-16 from the line as a team, hitting 4-of-4 in the first half. The Wolf Pack made just 7-of-13 free throws.
JaVale McGee, Armon Johnson and Marcelus Kemp had 12 apiece for Nevada. The team committed a season-high 21 turnovers and shot just 38 percent from the field.
Nevada jumped out to an 8-3 lead early, but Southern Illinois led 37-22 by the half. The Salukis led by as many as 29 points in the second half.
KEMP PACING TEAM IN SCORING
A preseason candidate for the Wooden Award and the Naismith Trophy, senior guard Marcelus Kemp is leading the team and ranked second in the WAC in scoring at 20.1 points per game (35th in the NCAA). He has turned in at least 20 points in 12 of the last 23 games, including a career-best 35 Feb. 11 vs. Utah State and 32 Feb. 16 at Idaho. He also had 19 points in two other games in that stretch. After leading the team in scoring in 17 games last season, including five of the final six, the sixth-year senior has paced the Wolf Pack in scoring in 18 of 27 games this season, including 16 of the last 23. He turned in a team-high 26 points with four three-pointers Nov. 28 vs. California and notched his second career double-double with a game-best 20 points and a career-high-tying 12 rebounds Dec. 1 at Pacific. He also turned in 28 points in a Dec. 19 win over Colorado State (22 in the second half).
Kemp holds the team lead and ranks 10th in the WAC with 56 three-pointers made this year (2.07 per game). With two three-pointers Feb. 14 at Boise State, he became Nevada’s career leader for three-pointers made, passing Terrance Green (209 treys, 1999-2003), and now has made 213 career three-pointers. Kemp knocked down 5-of-6 three-pointers Feb. 9 vs. Hawai’i, tying his career high for treys made in a game, and has made at least three three-pointers in 10 games this season.
With his 12 points Saturday at Southern Illinois, Kemp turned in his 37th consecutive game in double figures for scoring (all 27 this year) and the 89th of his career. Dating back to the latter part of the 2005-06 season, Kemp’s sophomore year, he has scored in double figures in 68 of the last 70 games. With 1,823 career points, he has also climbed into third place on the Nevada career scoring list, moving past Alex Boyd (1,731 points, 1967-70), and stands 54 points behind Edgar Jones (1,877 points, 1976-79) for second on the list.
SPREADING IT AROUND
Four members of the Wolf Pack are averaging in doubles figures for scoring this year, led by senior guard Marcelus Kemp who ranks second in the WAC and 35th in the nation at 20.1 points per game. Kemp has led the team in scoring in 18 of 27 games this year, including 16 of the last 23. Sophomore JaVale McGee is second on the team and 12th in the WAC with 13.2 points per game, while sophomore Brandon Fields and freshman Armon Johnson trail just behind at 12.2 and 11.7 points per contest, respectively. McGee has scored a career-high 20 points four times this year, most recently Feb. 16 at Idaho, while Fields turned in a career-best 22 Dec. 16 vs. UCF and had 21 Feb. 16 at Idaho. Johnson has matched his career high with 23 points twice (Dec. 27 at then top-ranked North Carolina and Jan. 17 vs. Idaho).
Nevada saw all five of its starters score in double figures for the first time this year on Dec. 12 vs. the Toreros, while it had five players in double figures again Dec. 31 vs. Cal State Stanislaus and vs. San Jose State on Feb. 7. The team has seen at least four players in double figures in a total of 12 games this year.
Nevada got a season-high 35 points from its bench in its Dec. 31 win over Cal State Stanislaus, including a season-best 19 points from senior Demarshay Johnson. The Wolf Pack bench added 24 in the Dec. 8 win over Montana State, including a season-high seven by senior David Ellis and five from sophomore Ray Kraemer, the first points of Kraemer’s Wolf Pack career. Dec. 12 against San Diego, sophomore Matt LaGrone tallied a career-best 12 points, while true freshman Malik Cooke added a career-high seven, including his first career three-pointer. On Jan. 26 at Louisiana Tech, senior David Ellis scored a career-best 14 points on 7-of-7 shooting to lead the team and pace a 31-point effort from the Wolf Pack bench.
On Feb. 7 vs. San Jose State, the Wolf Pack bench turned in 30 points, including a career-best 11 by sophomore Ray Kraemer on 4-of-5 shooting (3-of-3 from three-point land) and a season-high 10 by junior Lyndale Burleson.
DEALING WITH REJECTION
Sophomore JaVale McGee and the Wolf Pack continue to lead the WAC in blocked shots per game. McGee is averaging a league-best 2.74 blocks per game, 1.28 blocks per game ahead of New Mexico State’s Martin Iti (1.46), and is 15th in the NCAA in the category. He swatted a career-best seven shots Dec. 22 at Northern Iowa and has blocked six in three other games this season (Nov. 11 at UCF, Nov. 18 vs. Cal and most recently Feb. 11 vs. Utah State). He added five blocks Dec. 12 vs. San Diego and has had four in five other games (at North Carolina, Cal State Stanislaus, Idaho, at NMSU, at Idaho). McGee has blocked at least one shot in 23 of 27 games this season (19 with two or more). With 104 career blocks in just 61 games (1.70 per game), McGee has moved into fifth on the Nevada career list and is just three blocks behind Sean Paul for fourth (107, 2000-04). McGee has also already moved into second on the Nevada single-season list with 74 and has broken Nick Fazekas’ mark for the single-season mark by a Wolf Pack sophomore (51 in 2004-05). Last season, McGee ranked second on the team and ninth in the WAC with 0.9 blocked shots per game. He finished with 30 blocks on the year and had swatted a previous career best with four vs. Idaho on Jan. 6, 2007.
As a team, Nevada paces the conference and ranks 13th in the nation with an average of 5.78 blocks per game, including a season-best 11 in its Jan. 17 win over Idaho and 10 in the Dec. 19 win over Colorado State. Senior Demarshay Johnson is second on the team and fifth in the league in the category with 1.07 blocks per game, including a career-high six swats in the Dec. 19 victory over Colorado State.
LIGHTING IT UP
Nevada scored a season-high 104 points in its Dec. 31 victory over Cal State Stanislaus and added its second-best scoring effort of the season on Feb. 9 with 88 points vs. Hawai’i. The Wolf Pack has turned in 14 of its highest scoring outputs of the year in its last 21 games. That Dec. 31 win over the Warriors marked the first time that the team has topped the century mark since turning in a 101-76 win over Rice on Jan. 24, 2004 in Reno. Nevada has turned in 10 80-point efforts this season and has reached that 80-point mark in four of the last six games and seven of the last 11, including 85 points in its Feb. 11 win over Utah State and in its Feb. 16 victory at Idaho.
After averaging 67.5 points in the first six contests of the year, the Wolf Pack has averaged 76.4 points per game in its last 21 (1604 points), including 88 points Feb. 9 vs. Hawai’i, 87 Jan. 24 at NMSU and 86 in its Dec. 16 win vs. UCF. Nevada has now moved into third place in the WAC statistics in scoring at 74.4 points per game.
ARMON JOHNSON ONE OF LEAGUE’S TOP FRESHMEN
True freshman Armon Johnson is turning in one of the finest seasons of any freshman in the WAC this season. He is pacing the Wolf Pack and ranked seventh in the WAC with 3.48 assists per game, while the graduate of Reno’s Hug High School is seventh in the league with a 1.47 assist-to-turnover ratio. He also ranks among the WAC leaders in free throw percentage, checking in at 10th at 78.0 percent. Johnson has averaged 4.4 assists per game in the last eight games (35), including a career-best seven in the Feb. 9 win over Hawai’i.
Fourth on the team in scoring at 11.7 points per game, Johnson has turned in 17 double-figures efforts this season, including four 20-point contests. He matched his career best with 23 points Jan. 17 vs. Idaho and turned in 20 points Jan. 19 vs. Boise State and Jan. 24 at New Mexico State. Johnson has turned in 13.6 points per game over the last 15 contests (204 points), up from his season average of 11.7 ppg.
FINDING THEIR TOUCH
Nevada has shot the ball well recently, making 47.7 percent of its attempts from the field in its last 21 outings (565-1185). The team has turned in 10 50-percent shooting efforts this season, including five of the last 10 games. The Wolf Pack holds a 10-0 mark in those contests, most recently matching its season high for field goal percentage with a 61.2 percent effort Feb. 9 vs. Hawai’i (30-49). The team also shot 61.2 percent in its Jan. 26 victory at Louisiana Tech (30-49). Nevada has also turned in its three best three-point nights of the year recently, including a season-high 64.7 percent Feb. 9 vs. Hawai’i (11-17), 61.5 percent Jan. 31 vs. Fresno State (8-13) and 53.3 percent of its attempts (8-15) Jan. 24 at New Mexico State. Nevada now ranks fourth in the WAC and 39th in the nation in field goal percentage this season (47.3 percent).
After leading the WAC and ranking 10th in the nation in three-point shooting at 40.6 percent last year, the Wolf Pack struggled to find its touch from beyond the arc early this season. However, Nevada has now moved into fourth in the WAC at 36.7 percent from three-point land this season (159-433). In addition to turning in its best percentage of the season on Feb. 9 vs. Hawai’i, the Wolf Pack knocked down a season-best 11 three-pointers in that game, besting its previous high of nine Jan. 19 vs. Boise State. Nevada has made eight in four other games (Cal, at NMSU, San Jose State, Utah State) and has knocked down at least seven three-pointers in 12 games this year.
FIELDS FROM DOWNTOWN
The Dec. 17 WAC Player of the Week, sophomore Brandon Fields is shooting 37.6 percent from three-point land this season (44-117). He is second on the team with 44 three-pointers made this year, 12 behind senior Marcelus Kemp. Fields has knocked down at least one three-pointer in 21 of 27 games this year (12 with two or more). He made just three three-pointers and shot just 27.3 percent from beyond the arc all of last season (3-11).
Fields turned in career highs for scoring in back-to-back games against San Diego on Dec. 12 and UCF on Dec. 16, including 17 points in the win over the Toreros and a career-best 22 in the victory over the Knights, while Jan. 24 at New Mexico State, he missed his career high by just one point, leading the team with 21 points. Fields notched career highs for three-pointers made in back-to-back games against Cal and Pacific. He made a then career-best 3-of-6 treys Nov. 28 vs. Cal and then bested that mark Dec. 1 at Pacific, knocking down a career-high four three-pointers (4-of-8). He knocked down another trio of three-pointers Dec. 12 vs. San Diego and has matched his career high with four three-pointers in two other games (Dec. 16 vs. UCF and Jan. 19 vs. Boise State). He added 17 points Jan. 31 vs. Fresno State and again Feb. 9 vs. Hawai’i and had 21 in the Feb. 16 win at Idaho.
Nevada has seen three different players turn in its eight double-doubles this season, led by sophomore JaVale McGee who has six. Most recently, McGee matched his career best with 20 points and grabbed 10 rebounds Feb. 9 vs. Hawai’i, while he turned in 15 points and a game-high 12 rebounds Feb. 2 at Utah State. He also had 10 points and 12 rebounds Jan. 12 at Hawai’i, 18 points and 11 rebounds Dec. 31 against Cal State Stanislaus and 15 points and a career-best 18 rebounds Dec. 16 vs. UCF. He nabbed his first career double-double Nov. 24 at UNLV, matching his career best with 20 points and pulling down a then career-high 13 rebounds. McGee has just missed two other double-doubles with 19 points and nine rebounds Nov. 28 vs. Cal and 11 points and nine rebounds Dec. 19 vs. Colorado State. Senior Marcelus Kemp tallied his second career double-double with 20 points and a career-high-tying 12 rebounds Dec. 1 at Pacific, while senior Demarshay Johnson turned in his first career double-double with 12 points and a career-high 11 boards Nov. 13 at UC Irvine.
PACK NEWS & NOTES
- Saturday’s game marked Nevada’s first loss and its first road game in five appearances in the O’Reilly ESPNU BracketBusters event (now 4-1).
- The Wolf Pack scored a season-low 49 points Saturday at Southern Illinois. Its previous low was 55 points in its Dec. 22 win at Northern Iowa, also a game against a Missouri Valley Conference opponent.
- The team matched its season high with 21 turnovers and allowed Southern Illinois 14 steals, a season best by a Wolf Pack opponent this year. The Wolf Pack had come into the game averaging just 6.7 turnovers per game in its previous three contests. Nevada turned the ball over a then season-low four times in its Feb. 11 win over Utah State and then bested that with just three turnovers in its Feb. 16 victory at Idaho.
- Freshman Malik Cooke scored a career-best eight points and pulled down seven rebounds at Southern Illinois. Cooke turned in a career-best and team-high 10 rebounds Feb. 7 vs. San Jose State. That marked the second time this year that the Charlotte, N.C., native has led the team in rebounding. He also pulled down a team-best eight rebounds in the team’s Jan. 26 win at Louisiana Tech. Cooke has averaged 5.0 rebounds per game in the last nine contests (45), up from his average of 2.9 boards per game. Cooke also turned in six points and pulled down five rebounds Feb. 14 at Boise State.
- Nevada outrebounded Southern Illinois 38-27 and lost for just the second time this year when outrebounding its opponent (11-2 record in those games).
- The Wolf Pack has outrebounded 13 of its 27 opponents this season (11-2 record in those games) and tied two others. Nevada has climbed to second in the WAC in rebounding offense (36.4 rpg) and fourth in rebounding margin (+3.1) this year. The team pulled down a season-high 57 rebounds and turned in its season best for rebounding margin (+31) Dec. 31 vs. Cal State Stanislaus, outrebounding the Warriors 57-26. Last season, Nevada beat its opponents on the boards in 27 of 34 games (24-3 record) and led the league in rebounding margin (+6.5). Nevada is 4-8 this year when getting outrebounded.
- Sophomore JaVale McGee leads the team and ranks fourth in the WAC with 7.4 rebounds per contest. He led the WAC for several weeks earlier this year. McGee pulled down a career-best 18 rebounds Dec. 16 vs. UCF, which marked the most for the Pack since Nick Fazekas had 18 rebounds in Nevada’s Jan. 27, 2007 win over Utah State. McGee has led the team in rebounding in 16 games this season, including 12 of the last 20. Most recently, he led the team with a game-high 10 rebounds Feb. 9 vs. Hawai’i and had nine on Feb. 16 at Idaho. Senior Marcelus Kemp is second on the team at 5.2 rebounds per game.
- The Wolf Pack has topped the 80-point mark in seven of its last 11 games and is 9-1 this year when scoring 80 or more points. Nevada also just missed 80 points with 79 scored Jan. 31 against the Bulldogs.
- The Wolf Pack ranks fourth in the WAC in free throw percentage at 71.9 percent and turned in its season high at 91.4 percent Feb. 16 at Idaho (32-35). Nevada also shot a then season-high 85.7 percent from the charity stripe Jan. 12 at Hawai’i and Feb. 14 at Boise State. The team features three players ranked in the top 10 in the WAC in the category, including senior Marcelus Kemp who is third in the conference and 19th in the NCAA at 87.4 percent. Sophomore Brandon Fields ranks fifth in the WAC at 85.7 percent, including a 13-of-13 effort Feb. 16 at Idaho, while freshman Armon Johnson is 10th at 78.0 percent. Nevada has turned in eight 80-percent efforts from the free throw line this season.
- Kemp missed a free throw in the first half Jan. 17 against Idaho, ending a stretch of 22 consecutive made free throw attempts, dating back to the second half of the Dec. 22 game at Northern Iowa. Kemp has now converted on 80 of his last 87 free throw attempts (92.0 percent). He has made all of his attempts in seven of the last 15 games, including 6-of-6 Dec. 31 vs. Cal State Stanislaus and 8-of-8 Jan. 12 at Hawai’i. He has been perfect from the line in 12 games this year, while on Feb. 11 vs. Utah State, he made 13-of-14 from the charity stripe and went 15-of-16 from the line on Feb. 16 at Idaho.
- The Wolf Pack defense held San Jose State to 46 points on Feb. 7, a season low for a Wolf Pack opponent. Nevada has won 50 of its last 52 games when holding its opponent to 60 points or less, including a 13-1 record in 2005-06, a 6-1 mark last year and a 4-0 record this season. San Jose State also shot just 30.4 percent from the field (17-56), a season low for a Wolf Pack opponent.
- Nevada has faced six first-year head coaches seven times this season and has turned in a 7-0 mark, downing Santa Clara (Kerry Keating), San Diego (Bill Grier), Colorado State (Tim Miles), Hawai’i twice (Bob Nash), New Mexico State (Marvin Menzies) and Louisiana Tech (Kerry Rupp).
- Sophomore Ray Kraemer has knocked down eight of his 11 three-point attempts in the last nine games (72.7 percent), including 2-of-2 Jan. 31 vs. Fresno State, a career-best 3-of-3 Feb. 7 vs. San Jose State and 2-of-2 Feb. 9 vs. Hawai’i. Kraemer has averaged 4.1 points per game (33) and made 64.7 percent of his field goal attempts (11-17) in the nine contests. On the season, Kraemer is averaging 1.8 points per game and shooting 47.6 percent from three-point land (10-21).
- Sophomore Brandon Fields is averaging 12.2 points per game this season, up from 2.0 points per game last season (+10.2), while fellow sophomore JaVale McGee is averaging 13.2 points per contest, up from 3.4 ppg last season (+9.8).
- Senior Demarshay Johnson has made his return to the starting lineup and responded by leading the team with a career high-tying 11 rebounds Jan. 17 vs. Idaho and turning in 10 points on 5-of-8 shooting Jan. 19 vs. Boise State. He also added nine points and six rebounds Jan. 24 at New Mexico State. Johnson started the first six games of the year but then embraced his role off the bench in the next nine before returning to the starting lineup Jan. 17 vs. the Vandals. He is fifth on the team with 6.5 points per game and third at 4.6 rebounds per contest.
- Johnson led the Wolf Pack with nine rebounds Saturday at Southern Illinois, marking the fifth time this year that he has paced the team in the category.
- Nevada opened the year with a 2-4 record for the first time since the 2002-03 season (now 17-10). That season, Nevada played five of its first seven games on the road and turned in a 2-5 mark before winning its next three contests. The 2002-03 team finished with an 18-14 record and made a trip to the postseason NIT, the first of five consecutive postseason appearances for the Wolf Pack (one NIT bid and four NCAA appearances). In 2003-04, Nevada opened the year with a 2-3 mark before reeling off wins in its next five games and seven of its next eight. The Wolf Pack finished with a 25-9 record that season, winning its first of four WAC regular-season championships and making the first NCAA Sweet Sixteen appearance in school history.
- Nevada’s starting lineup in eight games this year featured just one senior (Marcelus Kemp), three sophomores (Matt LaGrone, JaVale McGee, Brandon Fields) and one true freshman (Armon Johnson). Nevada turned in a 6-2 record in those games. The starting lineup has featured two sophomores and one freshman (McGee, Fields and Johnson) in the other 19 games (118 record).
- The Dec. 8 victory over Montana State snapped the Wolf Pack’s first three-game losing streak since dropping five straight contests at the end of the 2000-01 season. The Nov. 28 loss to Cal marked Nevada’s first back-to-back losses in the same season since 2005-06. The Wolf Pack lost its second-round NCAA game to Memphis last year and opened this season with a 63-60 loss at UCF on Nov. 11, but the team had not dropped back-to-back losses in the same season since falling to Fresno State and Utah State in January of 2006. Head coach Mark Fox’s squads have dropped back-to-back games just five times in his three-plus seasons and hold a 20-6 record following a loss in his tenure.
- Sophomore forward JaVale McGee, sophomore guard Brandon Fields and true freshman guard Armon Johnson all made their first career starts for the Wolf Pack on Nov. 11 at UCF. Johnson marked the first Wolf Pack true freshman to start a game since Ramon Sessions started 31 of 32 games in 2004-05. Sessions was named the WAC Freshman of the Year that season.
FOX FOURTH ON NEVADA CAREER WINS LIST
Fourth-year head coach Mark Fox is the first coach in school history to lead his squad to three consecutive 20-win and NCAA Tournament seasons. He holds a 98-28 career record in his three-plus seasons at the helm of the Wolf Pack program (.778 winning percentage) and is already fourth in all-time wins at Nevada. His 81 wins after his first three seasons were tied with Gonzaga's Mark Few for the most victories in Division I history by a coach through three seasons (81-18 record in his first three seasons).
Fox has been named the Don Haskins Coach of the Year in each of his first three seasons as Nevada’s head coach to become the first coach in WAC history to earn the honor in three consecutive years. Last year, he was also one of 15 finalists for the 2007 Jim Phelan National Coach of the Year Award and was named the National Association of Basketball Coaches District 13 Coach of the Year.
Following Thursday’s game with New Mexico State, Nevada will play host to Louisiana Tech for Senior Day at 6:05 p.m. on Saturday, March 1 at Lawlor Events Center. The Wolf Pack ends the regular season on Saturday, March 8, traveling to Fresno State. The 2008 WAC Tournament is set for March 11-15 in Las Cruces, N.M.