Men's Basketball Heads to Northern Iowa Saturday


Sat., Dec. 22, 2007 - 1:05 p.m. CT (11:05 a.m. PT) - McLeod Center (7,018) - Cedar Falls, Iowa

TELEVISION: KAME-TV 21 & Comcast Sports Net West
 Rich Cellini (play-by-play) & Tom Asbury (color analyst)
RADIO:  Wolf Pack Sports Network (ESPN Radio 630 AM, Reno)
 Don Marchand (color analyst)
 Pregame, 12:35 p.m. CT (10:35 a.m. PT)
SERIES HISTORY: Northern Iowa leads the all-time series 2-1.
LAST MEETING: Nevada won the last meeting between the two teams, turning in a 79-64 victory over Northern Iowa on Feb. 17, 2007 in Reno, Nev. in the 2007 ESPNU O’Reilly BracketBusters.

Coming off a 74-66 win over Colorado State on Wednesday, the four-time defending Western Athletic Conference champion Nevada Wolf Pack (6-4) returns to action on Saturday afternoon, traveling to Cedar Falls, Iowa, to take on the Northern Iowa Panthers (8-2) in a rematch of last year’s BracketBusters game. Saturday’s contest will tip off at 1:05 p.m. Central Time (11:05 a.m. Pacific Time) at UNI’s McLeod Center and will be televised locally by KAME-TV 21. The Wolf Pack brings a four-game winning streak into Saturday’s game and returns to the road for the first time since Dec. 1 with this weekend’s 1,709-mile jaunt to Northern Iowa. The team opened the season with four of its first six games on the road (2-4 record to open the year) but just wrapped up its season-long four-game homestand with four consecutive victories, including Wednesday’s win over CSU. Following Saturday’s game with the Panthers, the Wolf Pack travels to top-ranked North Carolina on Dec. 27, before returning home to wrap up the non-conference slate with Cal State Stanislaus on Dec. 31.
 Under the direction of fourth-year head coach Mark Fox, the Wolf Pack returns 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.

Sophomore guard Brandon Fields was named the Western Athletic Conference men's basketball player of the week for Dec. 10-16. This marked the first WAC Player of the Week honor for the sophomore and the second for the Wolf Pack this year with senior guard Marcelus Kemp earning the honor for the week of Nov. 12-18.
 Fields, a sophomore from Arlington, Texas, turned in career highs for scoring in both of Nevada's wins last week. Fields averaged 19.5 points, 3.0 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 1.5 blocks per game in wins against San Diego and Central Florida. He shot 50 percent from the field and 53.8 percent from three-point land on the week. Fields also made 85.7 percent of his free throw attempts. He scored a then career-best 17 points in a Dec. 12 victory over San Diego. He made three three-pointers in the game and blocked a career-best two shots against the Toreros. Fields bested that career mark with 22 points on 6-of-10 shooting Sunday against Central Florida, matching his career best with four three-pointers against the Knights.
 Kemp won Nevada’s first WAC honor of the season, being named the WAC Player of the Week for Nov. 12-18. It marked the third career WAC Player of the Week honor for the senior from Seattle, Wash. Kemp averaged 17.5 points, 5.0 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 1.5 steals per game in Nevada’s wins over UC Irvine and Santa Clara. He shot 60 percent from the field and 33.3 percent from three-point land. He turned in 12 points on 6-of-10 shooting, six rebounds and two steals in Nevada’s win at UC Irvine on Nov. 13. He also scored a game-high 23 points on 9-of-15 shooting in the Wolf Pack’s victory over Santa Clara on Nov. 17, making 3-of-6 three-point attempts against the Broncos.

Nevada has won 20 of its last 28 games away from the friendly confines of Lawlor Events Center, including 16 road wins and four neutral-site victories (dating back to midway through the 2005-06 season). Last year, the team turned in a 14-4 record away from home, including a 10-2 road mark and a 4-2 record in neutral-site games. The Wolf Pack has won four of its last eight regular-season road contests and 15 of its last 20. Last year, the team saw an 11-game regular-season road winning streak snapped with a Jan. 20, 2007 loss at New Mexico State. Prior to that, the team had not dropped a road contest since falling at Fresno State on Jan. 18, 2006.
 In the last three-plus seasons since the start of the 2004-05 campaign, the Wolf Pack has tallied a 32-10 record in road contests (76.2 winning percentage).
 This year, Nevada opened the season with four of its first six contests away from home, beginning with its season-opening two-game road trip to UCF and UC Irvine and trips to UNLV and Pacific (1-3 road record this year). The team racked up over 5,800 frequent flier miles in five days to open the season, traveling 2,833 miles from Reno to Orlando, 2,496 miles from Orlando to Anaheim for a game two days later and 544 miles from Anaheim back to Reno. According to a story by’s Kyle Whelliston, the Wolf Pack will travel the third-most miles of any team in the country this season (21,009 miles), behind just fellow WAC schools Hawai’i (38,621) and New Mexico State (24,941).
 Last season, Nevada opened the year with four of its first seven games away from home (three road wins and a neutral-site victory), while in 2005-06, the team played 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 to 2006 NCAA runner-up UCLA). That year, Nevada traveled over 10,000 miles in 11 days in a four-game road stand that included trips to Vermont, UNLV, Kansas and Pacific.

Over the last four-plus seasons dating back to 2003-04, Nevada has turned in a 112-31 record, the best record of any WAC team during that time (.783 winning percentage). In conference games, Nevada has won 56 games, the most in that same time period.

Northern Iowa brings an 8-2 record into Saturday’s game with Nevada and has won its last two games and four of its last five, including a 99-48 victory over Wartburg on Dec. 15 and a 64-60 overtime win at Missouri-Kansas City on Wednesday. The Panthers are 5-1 at home this season. Under the direction of second-year head coach Ben Jacobson (26-15 record at UNI), Northern Iowa  returned three starters and eight letterwinners from last year’s 18-13 team. The Panthers finished fifth in the Missouri Valley Conference last season with a 9-9 league mark.
 Sophomore center Jordan Eglseder (7-1, 265) is leading three Panthers in double figures for scoring at 12.4 points per game, while senior guard Jared Josten (5-11, 175) trails just behind at 12.1. Senior center Eric Coleman (6-6, 240) is third on the team in scoring at 11.4 points per game and is pulling down a team-best 8.5 rebounds per contest. As a team, Northern Iowa has made 46.5 percent of its attempts from the field this year, including 33.7 percent of its three-pointers. The team is averaging 68.0 points per game and holding its opponents to just 56.3 points per contest (+11.7 scoring margin).
Northern Iowa holds a 2-1 advantage in the all-time series with Nevada. The Wolf Pack won the last meeting between the two teams, turning in a 79-64 victory over the Panthers on Feb. 17, 2007 in last year’s ESPNU O’Reilly BracketBusters in Reno. Northern Iowa had won the two previous meetings, including an 89-88 win on Dec. 27, 1989 in Reno and a 76-75 overtime victory on Dec. 1, 1990 in Cedar Falls, Iowa.
 The Wolf Pack holds a 6-12 all-time record against teams from the Missouri Valley Conference and has won its last three meetings with teams from that league. Most recently, Nevada downed the Panthers in last year’s BracketBusters and turning in a 77-71 overtime win over Creighton on March 16, 2007 in the first round of last year’s NCAA Tournament.

Senior Marcelus Kemp scored 22 of his 28 points in the second half to lead Nevada over Colorado State 74-66 on Wednesday night at Lawlor Events Center.
 Sophomore Brandon Fields had 12 points and sophomore JaVale McGee 11 for the Wolf Pack, which won its fourth consecutive game.
 Willis Gardner had 19 points and Andre McFarland 17 for the Rams, who stayed close by hitting 11 of 22 shots from 3-point range.
 A three-pointer by Colorado State's Jesse Woodard tied the score at 51 with 8:38 left in the game, but Nevada responded with an 11-3 run capped by a breakaway dunk by Kemp to lead 62-54 with 4:58 left.
 The Rams could get no closer than eight points the rest of the way. Nevada’s largest lead was 74-61 with 37 seconds left after Kemp hit one of two free throws.
 Kemp hit 8 of 16 shots from the field, including 1 of 3 from 3-point range and was 11 of 13 from the foul line.
 The Wolf Pack shot 60 percent from the field in the second half after shooting 37.9 percent in the first half. Colorado State hit 37.9 percent of its shots for the game but stayed close with its three-point shooting. Nevada led 33-27 at halftime.

Nevada scored a season-high 86 points in its Dec. 16 victory over UCF and has turned in four of its five highest scoring outputs of the year in the last four games. After averaging 67.5 points in the first six contests of the year, the Wolf Pack has averaged 79.5 points per game in its last four, including the season-high 86 points vs. UCF and 82 in its Dec. 8 victory over Montana State. Nevada now ranks third in the WAC in scoring at 72.3 points per game.

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 19.7 points per game. He has turned in at least 20 points and led the team in scoring in four of the last five games, including a season-high 28 points in Wednesday’s win over Colorado State (22 in the second half) and a team-best 24 points in Sunday’s victory over UCF. After leading the team in scoring in 17 games last season, including five of the last six, the sixth-year senior has paced the Wolf Pack in scoring in seven of 10 games this season. He turned in a team-high 26 points with a season-best 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 led the team with 23 points and three treys in the Dec. 8 win over Montana State. Kemp is second on the team (just behind sophomore Brandon Fields’ 21) with 20 three-pointers made this year and is tied for seventh in the WAC with 2.00 treys per game. Kemp has moved into third on the Nevada career list with 177 three-pointers made.
 With his 28 points Wednesday vs. Colorado State, Kemp turned in his 20th consecutive game in double figures for scoring (all 10 this year) and the 72nd 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 51 of the last 53 games. He has also moved into eighth place on the Nevada career scoring list with 1,477 career points and needs 27 more to catch Darryl Owens (1986-89) who currently sits in seventh with 1,504 career points.

This week’s WAC Player of the Week, sophomore Brandon Fields has turned in career highs for scoring in two of his last three games, including 17 points in the Dec. 12 win over San Diego and a career-best 22 in the Dec. 16 win over UCF. Fields is leading the team and ranked third in the WAC in three-point percentage at 46.7 percent (21-45). He is first on the team with 21 three-pointers made this year and is sixth in the WAC in three-pointers made (2.10 per game). Fields has knocked down at least one three-pointer in all 10 games this year (four with three or more).
 He turned in 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 matched his career high with four three-pointers Dec. 16 vs. UCF (4-of-6 from three-point land). Fields made just three three-pointers and shot just 27.3 percent from beyond the arc last season (3-11).

Sophomore JaVale McGee and the Wolf Pack continue to lead the WAC in blocked shots per game. McGee is averaging a league-best 3.10 blocks per game, 1.41 blocks per game ahead of New Mexico State’s Martin Iti (1.69), and ranks 14th in the NCAA in the category. He swatted a career-best six shots Nov. 28 against Cal, tying the mark he blocked in Nevada’s Nov. 11 season opener at UCF. He added five blocks Dec. 12 vs. San Diego and had three Dec. 16 vs. UCF. McGee has blocked at least one shot in all 10 games (eight with two or more). With 61 career blocks in just 43 games, McGee has already moved into 10th on the Nevada career list, moving past Mario Martin who had 57 in 56 career games from 1987-88. Last season, he 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 16th in the nation with an average of 6.80 blocks per game, including a season-best 10 in Wednesday’s win over Colorado State and nine Dec. 12 vs. San Diego. Senior Demarshay Johnson is second on the team and third in the league in the category with 1.60 blocks per game, including a career-high six swats in Wednesday’s victory over Colorado State.

Nevada had turned in four of its most solid shooting efforts of the year in the last four games. The team has made 48.6 percent of its attempts from the field in its last three outings (104-214), including 41.0 percent of its attempts from beyond the three-point arc (25-61). Nevada notched season highs for three-point shooting (43.8 percent, 7-16 - since broken) and free throw shooting (82.1) and turned in its third 50-percent showing from the field (51.8) in its Dec. 8 win over Montana State, while the team just missed the 50-percent mark at 49.1 percent and had another solid three-point effort (41.2 percent, 7-17) Dec. 12 vs. San Diego.  Sunday vs. UCF, Nevada turned in its best three-point night of the year, making 46.7 percent of its attempts from beyond the arc (7-15) and shot 46.2 percent from the field, while the team shot 48.1 percent (60.0 percent in the second half, 15-25) Wednesday vs. Colorado State. Prior to the last four games, Nevada had shot just 37.2 percent from the field in its previous two. Led by sophomore JaVale McGee who checks in at 10th in the WAC at 50.5 percent, Nevada ranks fourth in the league in field goal percentage this season (46.3 percent) and made a season-best 56.9 percent of its attempts Nov. 13 at UC Irvine
 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 but is starting to shoot the long ball with more consistency. Nevada checks in at fourth in the WAC at 34.4 percent from three-point land this season (56-163) but has made 41.0 percent of its long-range attempts in the last three games (25-61). Nevada made a season-high 46.7 percent of its three-point attempts (7-15) in its Dec. 16 win over UCF and knocked down a season-best eight treys Nov. 28 vs. Cal. Nevada has made seven three-pointers in four of its last five games (Pacific, Montana State, San Diego and UCF).

Three 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 at 19.7 points per game. Kemp has led the team in scoring in seven of 10 games this year, including five of the last six. Sophomore JaVale McGee is adding 13.5 points per game (ninth in the WAC) with a career-high 20 at UC Irvine and again at UNLV, while sophomore Brandon Fields is adding 13.2 points per tilt, including a career-best 22 points Dec. 16 vs. UCF. Fields checks in at 10th in the WAC statistics in scoring. True freshman Armon Johnson is just shy of double figures with 9.8 points per game.
 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 four players notch double figures for scoring in its victory over Montana State on Dec. 8 and again Dec. 16 vs. UCF. The team has seen at least four players in double figures in a total of four games this year (UC Irvine was the other). Nevada also got a season-high 24 points from its bench 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.
Nevada has seen three different players turn in its four double-doubles this season. Most recently, sophomore JaVale McGee added his second of the season with 15 points and a career-best 18 rebounds Dec. 16 vs. UCF. McGee has just missed two other double-doubles with 19 points and nine rebounds Nov. 28 vs. Cal and 11 points and nine rebounds Wednesday 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. McGee 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, 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.

- Senior Marcelus Kemp scored 22 of his game-high 28 points in the second half Wednesday vs. Colorado State and has turned in 57.9 percent of his points in the second halves of games this season (114-197). He had 17 of 24 points in the second half Dec. 16 vs. UCF, while in the first three games of the year, he scored 75.9 percent of his points in the final 20 minutes of games, including 16 of 23 Nov. 17 vs. Santa Clara, 10 of 12 Nov. 13 at UC Irvine and 15 of 19 Nov. 11 at UCF.

- After turning in a career-best 18 rebounds Dec. 16 vs. UCF and adding a team-best nine Wednesday vs. CSU, sophomore JaVale McGee has jumped from ninth to second in the WAC statistics with 8.4 rebounds per game (84 rebounds). He is just one rebound behind WAC leader Matt Nelson of Boise State, who has turned in 8.5 boards per game (85). McGee’s 18 rebounds vs. UCF 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 seven games this season.

- The Wolf Pack has outrebounded its last four opponents and a total of six teams this season (5-1 record in those games). Nevada pulled down a season-high 47 rebounds in the Dec. 16 win over UCF (47-28 edge) and turned in a 39-31 advantage on the board Wednesday vs. Colorado State. The team outrebounded Montana State 32-30 on Dec. 8, marking the first time that the Bobcats didn’t win the battle of the boards in their first eight games and turned in a 41-37 advantage Dec. 12 vs. San Diego. Prior to the last four games, the Wolf Pack had been outrebounded in three of its previous four games and a total of four times this season. In three of those games, Nevada had been outboarded by a total of just five combined rebounds (40-39 UCF, 27-25 vs. Santa Clara and 38-36 at Pacific).

- Nevada has climbed to second in the WAC in rebounding offense and margin with 38.0 rebounds and +4.8 boards per contest this year. 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). In its Nov. 13 win at UC Irvine, the Wolf Pack outboarded the Anteaters 43-20 for a season-best 23-board advantage, including a 14-7 edge on the offensive glass. Senior Marcelus Kemp is second on the team at 6.1 rebounds per game.

- Nevada’s starting lineup in the last four games (all wins) has featured just one senior (Kemp), three sophomores (LaGrone, McGee, Fields) and one true freshman (A. Johnson).

- Sophomore Matt LaGrone has made the most of his first four career starts, averaging 5.0 points and 3.0 rebounds per game in the last four contests. He had four points and two rebounds in his first career start on Dec. 8 vs. Montana State, while he turned in a career-high 12 points on 6-of-7 shooting and added four rebounds and a career-high three assists on Dec. 12 vs. San Diego.

- The Wolf Pack features three players ranked in the league’s top 10 for assists this year. Sophomore Brandon Fields is fifth in the WAC at 3.60 assists per game, while freshman Armon Johnson is tied for sixth (3.30) and senior Marcelus Kemp is tied for ninth (3.00). On Nov. 28 vs. California, Johnson had a team- and career-best six assists, Fields has tied his career high with five assists four times this season and Kemp turned in a season-best five Dec. 12 vs. San Diego. All three players are also ranked in the WAC’s top 10 in assist-to-turnover ratio with Fields checking in at third (1.64), Johnson seventh (1.32) and Kemp 10th (1.03).

- Nevada is ranked third in the WAC in free throw percentage this year at 71.0 percent, while senior Marcelus Kemp checks in at fifth in the WAC at 83.7 percent, including 11-of-13 in Wednesday’s win over Colorado State, and sophomore Brandon Fields is seventh at 80.8 percent. The Wolf Pack turned in its best free throw shooting effort of the year on Dec. 8 vs. Montana State, making 82.1 percent of its attempts from the charity stripe against the Bobcats (23-28). That marked the team’s third 80-percent effort of the season.
- Nevada opened the year with a 2-4 record for the first time since the 2002-03 season (now 6-4). 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.

- 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 16-6 record following a loss in his tenure.

- Nevada has won 47 of its last 49 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 1-0 record this season.

- 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.

Nevada’s four losses this season have come by an average of just 6.25 points per game, while two of them - a 63-60 loss at UCF on Nov. 11 and last week’s 70-66 loss at Pacific - were decided by four points or less. Last year, Nevada’s five losses came by an average of just 6.8 points per game. In his three-plus years as Nevada’s head coach, Mark Fox’s squads have only lost six games by a margin in double figures.

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 an 87-22 career record in his three-plus seasons at the helm of the Wolf Pack program (.798 winning percentage). His 81 wins 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.

Fourth-year Wolf Pack head men’s basketball coach Mark Fox will appear at Nevada’s Time-Out Luncheons monthly at the Silver Legacy Resort Casino in Reno.
 This year’s remaining luncheons will take place on Monday, January 7 and Monday, Feb. 4. Doors open at 11:30 a.m., and the cost is $13 per person at the door.
 The luncheons will feature a gourmet buffet prepared by the Silver Legacy, and the program includes game recaps and previews by Fox as well as appearances by other Wolf Pack coaches and staff.

Following Saturday’s game at Northern Iowa, Nevada travels to Chapel Hill, N.C., to face top-ranked North Carolina on Thursday, Dec. 27. Nevada will wrap up its non-conference slate with a New Year’s Eve contest vs. Cal State Stanislaus in Reno before opening Western Athletic Conference play with a game against conference co-favorite Utah State on Saturday, Jan. 5 at Lawlor Events Center.



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