Men's Hoops to Take on Utah State Friday in the WAC Tournament Semifinals
No. 10/10 NEVADA WOLF PACK (28-3, 14-2 WAC)
WAC TOURNAMENT SEMIFINALS - GAME NO. 32
TELEVISION: KAME-TV 21 (Randy Rosenbloom & Larry Farmer),
- Coming off an 88-56 victory over Idaho in the WAC Tournament quarterfinals on Thursday, the 10th-ranked Nevada Wolf Pack (28-3) will take on the Utah State Aggies (22-10) in Friday’s semifinals at the Pan American Center in Las Cruces, N.M. Friday’s game will tip off at 6:05 p.m. Mountain Time (5:05 p.m. Pacific) and will be televised in Reno by KAME-TV 21.
- With Thursday’s win over Idaho, top-seeded Nevada improved to 10-4 all time in WAC Tournament games since joining the league in 2000-01 and won its quarterfinal matchup for the fifth time in seven years. The Wolf Pack has won two of the last three WAC Tournament titles, including last year’s tournament crown in Reno.
- Nevada improved to 28-3 on the season with Thursday’s victory over the Vandals, tying the school record for wins in a single season. The 1945-46 Wolf Pack squad also won 28 games, going 28-5 that season under the direction of legendary coach Jake Lawlor.
- Nevada is tied with Memphis (28-3) for the best winning percentage in the country (.933). The team has notched four consecutive seasons with at least 25 victories and holds a 105-25 record in the last four seasons (.808).
- Third-year Wolf Pack head coach Mark Fox notched the 80th victory of his career on Thursday vs. the Vandals. He was also named the 2007 National Association of Basketball Coaches District 13 Coach of the Year on Thursday. The first coach in WAC history to be named the Don Haskins Coach of the Year in three consecutive seasons, he now holds an 80-16 record as Nevada’s head coach (.833) and has led the team to WAC regular-season titles in each of his three years at the helm.
- Junior Marcelus Kemp led four Wolf Pack players in double figures for scoring with 14 points in Thursday’s win over Idaho. Junior David Ellis set his career high with 11 points, making all four of his field goal attempts including a three-pointer, while senior Kyle Shiloh added 12 points and senior Nick Fazekas had 10. Shiloh, who has averaged 12.1 points in his last eight games, injured his hamstring in the second half Thursday vs. Idaho, and may not play Friday.
- Fazekas pulled down a team-best 10 rebounds vs. Idaho, marking his 19th double-double this year and the 60th of his career. The three-time WAC Player of the Year and ESPN. com All-American has scored in double figures in 59 consecutive games, dating back to last season, which is the fourth-longest streak in the country. He ranks third in the WAC in career scoring with 2,407 points and second in career rebounding with 1,226 boards.
- Nevada’s 88-56 win over Idaho marked its largest margin of victory this season (32 points) and was the fourth-highest scoring effort of the year for the team. The Wolf Pack is outscoring its opponents by a WAC-best 11.2 points per game this year (20th in the country in scoring margin) and ranks second in the WAC and 28th in the nation in scoring with an average of 77.9 points per game.
- Fazekas joins Texas’ Kevin Durant (24.9 ppg, 11.5 rpg) and Rider’s Jason Thompson (20.1 ppg, 10.1 rpg) as one of three players in the country to be averaging at least 20 points and 10 rebounds. He is second in the WAC in scoring at 20.5 points per game, behind Utah State’s Jaycee Carroll (21.1 ppg). He also leads the WAC and ranks fifth in the NCAA in rebounding (11.2 boards per game) and has the WAC’s second-best field goal percentage (57.6 percent, 223-389). In addition, Fazekas also ranks 15th in the nation in scoring, 34th in field goal percentage and 45th in free throw percentage.
- Nevada got a season-high 42 points from its bench Thursday vs. the Vandals. In addition to the career-high 11 points from Ellis, freshman Matt LaGrone set a career best with seven points and freshman JaVale McGee matched his career high with eight. Sophomore Lyndale Burleson and freshman Brandon Fields each added seven points in the victory. Nevada made a season-high 36 field goals vs. Idaho and turned the ball over a season-low six times against Idaho.
- The Wolf Pack leads the WAC in assist-to-turnover ratio at 1.30 and had 21 assists to only six turnovers in Thursday’s victory (3.5 assist-to-turnover margin).
- Nevada holds a 13-2 record away from home this year, including a 10-2 road mark and a 3-0 record in neutral-site games. The team has won 19 of its last 21 games away from the friendly confines of Lawlor Events Center, including the three neutral-site contests.
- Fourth-seeded Utah State has turned in 22-10 overall mark this year and finished in fourth place in the WAC with a 9-7 league record. The Aggies opened WAC Tournament play with a 73-70 victory over Hawai’i in the quarterfinals on Friday. Junior guard Jaycee Carroll (6-2, 175) is leading the WAC and ranked 14th in the nation in scoring at 21.1 points per game. Carroll is also the club’s leading rebounder, pulling down 6.4 boards per contest (11th in the WAC). He leads the WAC in free throw (.879) and three-point percentage (.773) and has the league’s fourth-best field goal mark (.532).
- Utah State holds a 23-11 advantage in the all-time series between the two former members of the Big West Conference. This year is the second consecutive season the two teams met in the WAC Tournament with the Wolf Pack turning in a 70-63 overtime victory in the WAC Tournament championship game on March 10, 2006 in Reno. Nevada and Utah State split two meetings in the regular season winning on their home floors. The Wolf Pack turned in a 79-62 win on Jan. 27 in Reno, while the Aggies upset the Pack 79-77 in overtime on March 1 in Logan, Utah.
- Nevada has shot 50 percent or better in 18 of its 31 games, including a 52.2 effort Thursday vs. Idaho. The Wolf Pack leads the league and ranks 18th in the country in field goal percentage (48.9 percent). The team also paces the league and checks in at eighth in the nation in three-point percentage at 41.2 percent. Nevada has made at least seven three-pointers in all but nine games this year and has set the school single-season mark for treys made with 233.
- With his two three-pointers Thursday vs. Idaho, junior Marcelus Kemp moved into second place on the Nevada single-season chart with 75 three-pointers made. He also ranks fourth all time at Nevada with 146 career treys. Kemp has scored 1,211 career points and will move past Ken Green (1,212 points, 1981-83) for 12th on the Wolf Pack career scoring list with his next basket.
- The Wolf Pack and third-year head coach Mark Fox have turned in a combined 31-4 record over the final two months of the season in the last three years, including a 21-0 mark in the month of February.
- Including Thursday’s win, Nevada has won its 25 of its last 27 regular-season WAC games and 28 of its last 30 games against WAC opponents, including three WAC Tournament victories last season. The team won its last 10 WAC regular-season contests last year and 14 of 16 this year to capture its fourth consecutive regular-season league title.
- Nevada has won 47 of its last 49 games when holding its opponent to 60 points or less, including a 13-1 record last season and a 6-1 mark this year, including Thurday’s 88-56 win over Idaho.
- The team holds a 23-2 record when outrebounding its opponents this season and is outboarding its opponents by a WAC-best 6.6 rebounds per game this year. The Wolf Pack has been outrebounded just five times this year and has won four of those five contests.
- Junior Ramon Sessions leads the Wolf Pack and ranks second in the WAC with 4.58 assists per game. One of 17 finalists for the Bob Cousy Award, he is third in the Wolf Pack career record books with 461 assists and needs just eight to move into second all time at Nevada.
- The winners of Friday’s semifinals will advance to the WAC Tournament championship game at 7:05 p.m. MT (6:05 p.m. PT) on Saturday. ESPN2 will televise the game to a national audience with Terry Gannon and Stephen Bardo calling the action. The winner of the WAC Tournament will earn the conference’s automatic bid to the NCAA Championships. Nevada has made three consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances, winning the league’s automatic bid in 2004 and 2006 and earning an at-large invitation in 2005.