Nevada has tough task vs. Hawai'i without Fazekas

Now the real fun starts for the 15th-ranked Nevada basketball team.

It played its first full game without Nick Fazekas Thursday night against San Jose State, and came away with a 72-63 victory behind a 33-point performance by Marcelus Kemp.

Tonight, the Pack (15-1, 3-0) visits Hawai'i (10-6, 1-2), a team that is tough enough to beat when your team is at full strength, let alone missing an All-American like Fazekas. Nevada has beaten Hawai'i just once in Honolulu (55-47 2 years ago) since the two started playing.

Tip-off for the critical Western Athletic Conference match-up at the Stan Sheriff Center is 9:05 p.m., and the game can be seen locally on Channel 21.

And, after Hawai'i comes Fresno State at home on Thursday and New Mexico State next Saturday on the road.

Nevada coach Mark Fox has declared Fazekas out of tonight's game following Thursday's win over SJSU. Fazekas doesn't need crutches, but his ankle is still swollen.

"That's what they say," veteran Hawai'i coach Riley Wallace said in a telephone interview Friday afternoon. "I think he will be on the court."

Fazekas, according to team spokesperson Rhonda Lundin, didn't practice on Friday with the team, and was still wearing a boot on his left foot.

Actually, the Warriors are secretly glad Fazekas is on the sidelines. In six previous games against the Warriors, Fazekas is averaging 20.5 points and 12.1 rebounds a contest. Fazekas had a career-high 37 against Hawai'i last season in a losing effort.

Wallace said the Warriors' philosophy on defense won't change with Fazekas out of there.

"We would just switch assignments a little bit," Wallace said. "We've always played him straight up and played the other guys hard, and we were able to keep a couple of guys down. They are a better team with him obviously."

Undoubtedly, Wallace will focus more of his team's attention on Kemp, who has raised his average to 19.7 after scoring 60 points in two games. Kemp was 12-for-23 shooting against San Jose State en route to a 33-point effort, one shy of his career-best of 34 set last year in the Pack's NCAA loss to Montana last March.

Nevada also got a nice scoring game from Kyle Shiloh, who scored 14 points on 6-for-10 shooting. The Pack will need more of the same from its 6-3 senior guard tonight. The Pack also need to get more offense from both Ramon Sessions and Denis Ikovlev to support Kemp and Shiloh.

Kemp has made 45.7 percent of his 3-point attempts, good for fourth in the WAC and 39th in the country. He's led the team in scoring the past three games.

Shiloh, the Pack's defensive stopper, undoubtedly will be asked to guard Matt Lojeski, who is averaging 17 a game in the first three games of the WAC season.

"Lojeski has been lights out," Wallace said. "He does whatever we need him to do - score, shoot the 3-pointer and gets to the foul line."

Lojeski is one of the reasons why Nevada coach Mark Fox said he won't zone (much) against Hawai'i.

"They have better shooters (than San Jose)," Fox said. "They have Lojeski, Bobby Nash and Matt Gibson."

Nash is averaging 10.8 a game and Gibson, the team's point guard is averaging nearly 10 a contest.

Nevada runs into a team that put six players in double figures Thursday in an 83-66 win over Fresno State. The Warriors led by more than 20 points in the first half, easily carving up Fresno State's man-to-man defense.

It was the first time six Hawai'i players - Ahmet Gueye, Lojeski, Dominic Waters, Nash, Riley Luettgerodt and P.J. Owsley - reached double figures in a game since 2002 against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi.

Wallace said the Bulldogs went to a zone defense in an effort to slow the game down.

"He'll play zone," Wallace predicted. "We're last in 3-point attempts, but we can make them."

The 6-9 Gueye, known more for his shot-blocking ability, is long and could cause problems at both ends for Ikovlev and the Pack's three-headed center - Matt LaGrone, David Ellis and JaVale McGee, all of whom will play tonight. At 245 pounds, Owsley is bulky and will use that to his advantage.

"Ahmet is playing well," Wallace said. "He's still worried about it (knee). It does puff up after games. Owsley played well the other night. He's doing a good job."

Notes: Nevada is 26-5 in road games the last three years. Nevada has won its last 10 away from home. The last road loss was 87-77 at Fresno State on Jan. 18 ... Nevada has won 13 straight regular-season WAC games ... Kemp is now 10th on Nevada's all-time career list with 116 successful 3-pointers, including 5-for-7 against San Jose State ... Hawai'i has lost just once at home this season, dropping a 61-58 decision to UNLV.

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