Nevada faces La Tech

RENO - Don't be deceived by Louisiana Tech's 6-12 overall record. Nevada coach Mark Fox isn't, and you can beat his players won't be.

Tech played a brutal nonconference schedule, including games against Arkansas, Texas Tech, Southern Illinois, Saint Louis, Texas A & M and LSU, which led to a 2-10 nonconference mark.

The Bulldogs take a two-game winning streak, which includes an overtime win against New Mexico State, into tonight's Western Athletic Conference game at 15th-ranked Nevada (17-2, 5-1), which shares the WAC lead with New Mexico State.

Tip-off is set for 7:05 p.m. at Lawlor Events Center.

"We're up against a team that is playing well and really established themselves the last couple of weeks," Nevada coach Mark Fox said. "They lost an unbelievable player in Paul Millsap, and I'm not surprised that it took a little bit of time to figure out how they wanted to play. Now they have figured it out and they are playing well.

"(Trey) McDowell and (Chad) McKenzie have been scoring the ball real well. McDowell is shooting the ball well. It's been a real big key for them."

McDowell is the WAC Player of the Week after averaging 29 points in Tech's wins over New Mexico State and Idaho. He shot 54 percent from the floor. McDowell is averaging nearly 13 a game, much higher than his 5.7 of a year ago when he saw much less playing time. McKenzie also is averaging more than 12 a game.

Tech gave Nevada all it could handle last year in Reno, falling 50-49 in what will be remembered as the Virginia Street Escape. Nick Fazekas roared down the lane and followed in a Marcelus Kemp miss with 1.3 left to wipe out a 49-48 deficit.

"Louisiana Tech has always been a very good defensive team," Fox said. "That's remained consistent."

Nevada has won seven straight and eight of the last nine against Tech. The Bulldogs' last win came on Feb. 15, 2003 when they grabbed a 99-97 overtime decision at Lawlor. That fact wasn't lost on Tech coach Keith Richard during Monday's WAC teleconference.

'We haven't beaten them in a long time," Richard said. "They have won a bunch in a row. I'm not sure how many, but you know we've struggled to get over the top.

"We have struggled a lot since (Nick) Fazekas been there. We have played good games and gotten blown out by them as well. We have to have an ultimate game for us to give ourselves a chance, yet at the same time our team is feeling good about themselves and what they have done so far. We are looking forward to the opportunity even though it's a big challenge."

In six previous games against the Bulldogs, Fazekas has averaged 20 points and more than 11 rebounds a game. He's connected on 47 of 87 field goal attempts in the past three years.

Without Millsap, who is now playing with the Utah Jazz, it would seem that the Bulldogs would want to play more up-tempo.

"I don't know how we're going to play," Richard said. "We haven't decided yet. Regardless of how we try to play, they have seen it all. They are really good.

"The last six or seven games, we've tried it all. We've tried trapping, we've tried falling back. We tried zone one year and they shot us out of it. It has a lot to do with Nick Fazekas. At the same time, they have other good players."

Marcelus Kemp is averaging 19 a game, and point guard Ramon Sessions, fresh off a 23-point effort against NMSU, is averaging nearly 14 a game. Kyle Shiloh is averaging 11.6 in his last five games, including an 18-point effort against Hawai'i.

"Ramon was a good player last year and the year before," Fox said. "He didn't score as much last year because he hurt his hip right before the first exhibition game, and he fought through that the whole year. He's back (healthy) and playing well for us."

Notes: The latest from Joe Lunardi's ESPN Bracketology has the Pack as a fifth seed playing Virginia Commonwealth in a first-round game in Columbus, Ohio ... Gary Parrish from CBS Sportsline is projecting that both Nevada and New Mexico State will make the tournament. Originally, he had only the Wolf Pack making it. Parrish has Nevada ranked 24th in his poll, well below the national polls. Part of that is because Nevada's strength of schedule is 126th in the country.

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