Men's Hoops Heads to Louisiana-Lafayette Wednesday
#24/20 NEVADA WOLF PACK (5-0) vs. LOUISIANA-LAFAYETTE RAGIN’ CAJUNS (1-3)
GAME NO. 6
Coming off a 78-70 win at Santa Clara on Saturday night, the No. 24/20 Nevada Wolf Pack (5-0) continues its three-game road swing, traveling 2,311 miles from home to Louisiana-Lafayette (1-3) on Wednesday night. Wednesday night’s game at the Cajundome will tip off at 7:05 p.m. Central Time and 5:05 p.m. Pacific Time and can be heard locally on ESPN Radio 630. Ranked 24th in the latest Associated Press poll and 20th in the latest ESPN/USA Today Coaches’ poll, Nevada has won its first five games to open the year and brings a seven-game road winning streak into Wednesday’s game with the Ragin’ Cajuns, including a 2-0 mark this year. The Wolf Pack also looks to open the season with a 6-0 record for the second straight year and just the third timei n school history. Following Wednesday’s game, Nevada will end its three-game streak away from Lawlor Events Center with a contest vs. California in the Pete Newell Challenge in San Jose on Sunday, Dec. 3.
The three-time defending Western Athletic Conference champion Wolf Pack returns 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.
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.
ABOUT THE LOUISIANA-LAFAYETTE RAGIN’ CAJUNS
Junior guard David Dees (6-4, 219) is leading Louisiana-Lafayette in scoring and rebounding this year with 22.8 points and 8.0 rebounds per game. Dees, who transferred to Louisiana-Lafayette from Liberty University, turned in a career-best 37 points and had 10 rebounds in the overtime loss to Cal State Fullerton. Senior guard/forward Ross Mouton (6-7, 205) is second on the team with 20.5 points and 5.8 rebounds per contest, including 27 points vs. CS Fullerton.
IN THE SERIES
LAST TIME OUT
Fazekas scored 11 of his team's first 20 points in the second half and his 3-pointer with 10:51 remaining made it 60-48. Nevada held Santa Clara scoreless for nearly 4 minutes, and the Broncos ended the drought on a goaltending call that gave Denison two points.
Denison's three-point play with 8:19 to go pulled the Broncos within 62-58, but Fazekas quickly answered on the other end. Denison converted another three-point play at 3:44 to cut Nevada's lead to 70-65.
Junior Ramon Sessions added 16 points and six rebounds for the Wolf Pack, who won their first four games by a combined 89 points -- an average margin of victory of 22.4 points. Junior Marcelus Kemp added 11 points, five rebounds and four assists. Fazekas made 12 of 19 shots and two of Nevada's eight 3-pointers. He also blocked two shots.
Santa Clara went 2-for-14 from long range and was outrebounded 38-26. John Bryant had 10 points, 11 rebounds and three blocks.
Both teams came out firing, with Santa Clara hitting its first seven field goals and Nevada making eight of its first 10 attempts. Both teams shot 51 percent or better in the first half, with Nevada leading 40-39 at the break after making four first-half 3-pointers.
FAZEKAS NAMED WAC PLAYER OF THE WEEK
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 last Wednesday. 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 three-point range and 12-of-15 (.800) from the free throw line.
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.
Last year’s 6-0 start marked the best start in 54 years, since 1951-52. That 1951-52 team turned in the best start in school history, winning its first 14 games en route to a 19-3 overall record. This season’s squad joins just four other Nevada teams that have opened the year with five consecutive wins. In addition to the record-setting start of the 1951-52 Wolf Pack squad, the 1924-25, 1942-43 and 2005-06 Nevada teams also turned in 5-0 season-opening records.
Nevada’s Best Starts Without a Loss
IN THE RANKINGS
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).
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 heads into his senior year ranked in the Nevada career top 10 in just about every 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 1,937 career points, which also ranks 17th on the WAC’s career scoring lists. Fazekas has already set Nevada's career record for blocked shots with 151, overtaking Jones who had 142 in his career, and ranks in the Wolf Pack career top five for rebounding (third-974), field goals made (second-701) and free throws made (second-439). His 974 rebounds also rank 14th in the WAC career annals.
Fazekas has turned in double-doubles in each of the first five games of the 2006-07 season. 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 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 Saturday at Santa Clara. Currently, Fazekas leads the WAC in scoring (25.0 points per game), rebounding (14.8 boards per game) and field goal percentage (64.9 percent, 48-74). He also leads the nation in rebounding and is ranked seventh in scoring.
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 on the 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, including ESPN.com (second team), collegeinsider.com, Rivals.com (third team) and Collegehoopsnet.com (third team). Fazekas 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.
WOLF PACK SHOOTING THE BALL WELL
Nevada has bested the 50-percent shooting mark in three of its five games this year, including a season-high 51.8 percentage Nov. 18 vs. Arkansas-Pine Bluff. The team has made at least seven three-pointers in each game so far this year, knocking down a season-high 11 treys and turning in a season-best 57.9 effort from beyond the arc Nov. 21 vs. UC Irvine (11-19).
DISHING IT OUT
With 23 assists so far this year, including a season-high seven in the Nov. 21 victory over UC Irvine, junior Ramon Sessions is ranked third in the WAC with 4.6 assists per game. Senior Kyle Shiloh and sophomore Lyndale Burleson are both tied for fourth in the league, just behind Sessions with 4.0 assists per contest.
On the preseason watch list for the Bob Cousy Collegiate Point Guard of the Year Award, Sessions has moved into seventh place in the Nevada career record books with 342 assists in just 68 career games (5.0 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.
All three players are also ranked in the top five in the WAC in assist-to-turnover. Burleson is pacing the WAC at 3.33 (20 assists with just six turnovers), while senior Kyle Shiloh is third (2.86) and junior Ramon Sessions is fifth (2.56). As a team, Nevada has a league-best 1.26 assist-to-turnover ratio (96 assists to 76 turnovers).
KEMP ON A ROLL
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 ranks second in the league in scoring defense and first in rebounding defense this year. The squad is also allowing teams to shoot just 39.2 percent from the field and 31.0 percent from three-point land, marks which both rank second in the WAC. 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 Saturday.
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.
WINNING AT LAWLOR
PACK PICKED TO WIN WAC BY COACHES AND MEDIA
NEVADA IN SEASON OPENERS
NEVADA NOTCHES THIRD STRAIGHT 20-WIN SEASON
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
- Senior Kyle Shiloh made 4-of-7 three-pointers and turned in 15 points (both season highs for him) in the Nov. 21 victory over UC Irvine. Shiloh turned in the second-best three-point shooting season in school history last year, making 46.6 percent of his attempts from beyond the arc (48-103).
- After averaging 4.7 points per game last season, junior Ramon Sessions is turning in an average of 12.2 points per contest, including a season-best 16 points in Saturday’s victory at Santa Clara. He is also shooting 47.5 percent from the field and 57.1 percent from three-point land (4-7) this season after turning in a 35.9 percent effort from the field and not making any three-pointers one year ago (0-3).
- Sessions is also ranked second in the WAC in free throw percentage, knocking down 90.5 percent of his attempts from the charity stripe this season (19-21). He 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 14.4 boards per contest, including a 54-24 advantage over Oregon State on Nov. 15. Led by the nation’s rebounding leader, senior Nick Fazekas (14.8 rpg), Nevada ranks in the top five in the WAC in all five rebounding categories so far this season: offense (T2nd-41.0 rpg), defense (1st-26.6), margin (1st-14.4), offensive (3rd-12.80) and defensive rebounds (2nd-28.20).
- The Wolf Pack is also scoring 80.6 points per game, good for second in the WAC, and is second in the conference in scoring margin at 19.4 points per contest.
- The Wolf Pack’s 2006-07 schedule features 16 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.
- Nevada has won 19 of its last 20 contests, dating back to an 82-79 victory at Boise State on Jan. 26, 2006.
- Senior Kyle Shiloh is leading the team and ranked third in the WAC with an average of 2.20 steals per game so far this year. He had a season-best four steals in the season opener vs. Alaska-Anchorage and matched that Nov. 18 vs. Arkansas-Pine Bluff.
- Senior Denis Ikovlev has started each of the first five games of this year (his first career starts) and is averaging 6.2 points and 3.6 rebounds per contest. He turned in nine points and five rebounds (both career highs) Nov. 10 against Alaska-Anchorage and adding five points and a career best-tying five boards Nov. 15 at Oregon State. Ikovlev has made a three-pointer in each of the first five games this year.
- Third-year head coach Mark Fox is the first coach in school history to lead his squad to back-to-back 20-win seasons. He holds a 57-13 career record in his three seasons at the helm of the Wolf Pack program (.814). 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.
- 2005-06 marked the third straight year that the Wolf Pack took on the eventual national champion or runner-up at some point during the year (UCLA in the Wooden Classic). In 2003-04, the team faced eventual NCAA champion UConn during the regular season and fell to national runner-up Georgia Tech in the NCAA Sweet Sixteen, while in 2004-05, Nevada fell to NCAA runner-up Illinois in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.