CORVALLIS, Ore. - Nevada has succeeded on the road in recent years because of its ability to play defense and win the rebounding battle.
The Wolf Pack did both in impressive fashion, outrebounding Oregon State by a whopping 54-24 margin and holding the Beavers to a paltry 29 percent from the field in an impressive 75-47 win before a crowd of 5,014 Wednesday night at Gill Coliseum.
Nevada, 2-0, held Hawai'i to 47 points in a 55-47 win on March 3, 2005 at Lawlor Events Center. Oregon State, which was 18 for 62, was held to 47 points by UCLA in last season's Pac-10 Tournament.
"We defended well," Nevada coach Mark Fox said. "We thought that the key to win would be the defense and rebounding because we aren't where we need to be offensively."
"I don't know that I would call it the best defense since I came here, but we played good defense tonight," point guard Ramon Sessions said. "We were more intense the second half defensively, and that helped us get the lead."
Nevada did an especially nice job against the Beavers' Marcel Jones (1-for-12) and Sasa Cuic (0-for-7), who went a combined 1-for-19 and scored just three points. Credit goes to Marcelus Kemp, Denis Ikovlev, David Ellis, JaVale McGee and Nick Fazekas .
"The length of their big men bothered us, especially Sasa," OSU coach Jay John said. "He never made the adjustment and he forced some shots. Marcel had some good looks early that didn't go in the basket.
"This one is on the older guys, outside of Kyle (Jeffers). I've said all along that the front-line guys are going to have to play well for us to do well."
The one negative that Fox saw was the 12-turnover first half. He said the decision making wasn't to his liking. And, he couldn't have been overjoyed that his team couldn't seem to get the ball inside to Fazekas.
"It took us a little while to adjust to playing at a high level," Fox said. "We certainly had to adjust to playing at a high level here, and it took a few minutes to shake the rust off. Nick is going to go into every game with the other team trying to stop him."
The 6-foot-11 All-American forced up one shot early, and he went scoreless until converting a three-point play with 11:26 left in the half to tie the game at 14.
That basket seemed to wake up the Pack, who finished the first half with a 16-9 run and a 30-23 lead. Fazekas scored all 13 of his first-half points in the final 11-plus minutes. Fazekas finished with 19 points and a career-tying 18 rebounds.
"Their defense didn't hold me back," Fazekas said. "I just couldn't get the ball in a comfortable spot. I think it definitely had more to do with our offense.
"Last year I would get frustrated, and coach Fox could see that. I know coach Fox is going to get me the ball."
The patience of Nevada impressed John.
"They have four seniors and a three-year starter at point guard (Ramon Sessions)," the OSU coach said. "They demonstrated that they are very poised and run their stuff. They know what they are doing and methodically whipped us. He (Fazekas) let the game come to him and didn't force things."
Oregon State kept the deficit at seven for the first five-plus minutes of the second half, but baskets by Sessions, Fazekas and Kemp extended the lead to 44-31 with 12:59 remaining.
Nevada built the lead to 20, 61-41, but the Beavers weren't going quietly, as Angelo Tsagarakis (11 points) hit two driving layups and a 3-pointer to make it 61-47 with 5:20 left.
Nevada left no doubt, running off 15 straight to end the game, and Kemp, who knocked down 9 for 13 in the second half, played a big role in the barrage. He hit two 3-pointers and a putback in the span. He scored both from the inside on driving layups and the outside as his 5-for-6 from beyond the arc would suggest.
"My shot was falling in the second half, and my confidence got high," Kemp said. "It seemed like they were trying to pressure me (on the perimeter) so I tried to go to the basket."
Fox said that four games in six days might have done in the Beavers, who allowed 45 second-half points.
"That's hard," Fox said. "The last part of the game they looked a little bit fatigued."
John said the team's lack of success on offense caused the defensive problems.
"We just started feeling sorry for ourselves," he said. "The ball wasn't going in the basket, and we didn't defend quite as hard. They didn't do anything different in the last 10 minutes that they did the first 30, but that's when things got away from us."