Nevada basketball going to the dance

RENO - For the second straight year, Nevada is going dancing.

The Wolf Pack, who won the regular-season Western Athletic Conference title, were selected Sunday as an at-large team for the NCAA Tournament.

Nevada (24-6) received a ninth seed and will meet Big 12 powerhouse Texas (20-10) in a first-round game Thursday at the RCA Dome in Indianapolis. The starting time will be determined later today.

It will be Nevada's fourth appearance in the tournament, but its first as an at-large selection. The ninth seed is the highest in Nevada history. It will be the first meeting between the Pack and Texas.

Nevada lost its quarterfinal game to Boise State last Thursday, and that no doubt hurt Nevada's seed. First-year coach Mark Fox felt his team had done enough to get in despite the loss, however.

"I felt we had," Fox said. "I stayed away from Bracketology 101 and that other stuff until we were done playing. Once we were eliminated, I sat down and went through it. I figured we were in the tournament, but you are never sure until you see your name flash across the board.

"I'm proud of this team, and I don't give them enough pats on the back. I told them after the Louisiana Tech game at home (Feb. 5) that they were in for the ride of their life if they kept their feet on the bus; stayed on the bus. I told them it would end in joy or tears. If they took the ride, they would enjoy the experience. I credit them for their unbelievable committment to get to post-season."

The Pack have been on an emotional roller coaster in recent days. The team went from the high to winning the regular-season title to a low from losing to a team it beat twice during the regular season to the high of being selected for the tournament.

Fortunately, Nevada was mentioned early in the CBS broadcast of Selection Sunday, which enabled the players to breathe easier.

"For myself, I didn't want to go to the NIT," Nevada sophomore Nick Fazekas said. "I talked to my dad, and he said we were going to get in. I was really pessimistic. I'm glad it was early. I was hoping we weren't going to be in the last bracket they mentioned."

Games involving the eighth and ninth seeds are usually entertaining.

"I feel outside the first couple of teams, everybody is even," Fox said. "I know some 11 and 12 seeds that are good teams; UTEP for instance. I don't put any stock into that (seedings). Both teams have to play."

Fox admitted that he's seen Texas play on television a few times. He said that NCAA opponents don't exchange film. He said there are films that can be purchased.

Texas lost its top player, P.J. Tucker, to academic ineligibility midway through the season, and 6-foot-10 LaMarcus Aldridge to a hip injury 16 games into the season. The Longhorns have lost six of their last 11 games, including a first-round loss to Colorado in the Big 12 Tournament.

The Longhorns do have 6-9 Jason Klotz (10.9 points, 5.8 rebounds) and 6-8 Brad Buckman (12.4, 8.2), which means Fazekas and Kevinn Pinkney will have their hands full. Freshman Daniel Gibson averaged 14.4 and Kenny Taylor 10.6.

"I know enough they are a great team," Fox said. "Coach (Rick) Barnes is a great defensive coach. They are in the top four or five in their league They are an attacking team. They have a terrific program and are from a great league. They have extremely talented players and a great coach."

TICKET POLICY ISSUED

The Nevada athletic department will take in-person ticket requests today from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Legacy Hall for premium seat holders and University of Nevada students only.

Current men's season ticket holders and the general public have the opportunity to place orders on Tuesday.

All participating schools receive 350 tickets to sell with an option to purchase 200 additional tickets for the first round. There are 50 tickets set aside for students.

Placing an order does not guarantee a ticket. The tickets will be distributed in the following priority - athletics donors, annual gift amount, basketball season ticket holders and fans who purchased WAC Tournament tickets. Individuals may purchase up to four tickets. Single-session tickets are $50 with a $4 service charge per order.

n Contact Darrell Moody at dmoody@nevadaappeal.com or call 881-1281.

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