RENO - Slowly but surely, freshman point guard Armon Johnson is starting to show the offensive burst that Northern Nevada basketball fans got used to seeing the past four years.
Johnson turned in one of his better offensive games of his rookie season, scoring 20 points and dishing out six assists, which tied his career high, in the 95-80 loss to Boise State Saturday night at Lawlor Events Center.
Johnson went 7-for-11 from the floor and 5-for-6 at the line. He was able to consistently break down the Broncos' defense off the dribble.
"He's starting to get more comfortable on offense," Nevada coach Mark Fox said. "If you look at the last few games, his scoring numbers are up. He's understanding how we play, and he's making progress."
It was Johnson's second straight game with 20 or more points. He matched his career best with 23 points Thursday vs. Idaho. Johnson has averaged 16.8 points per game over his last six contests (101 points).
The freshman certainly impressed BSU coach Greg Graham.
"Armon is very quick," Graham said. "He's hard to guard. He did a good job of going to the basket."
Fox hasn't changed his stance about his young team, and judging by his post-game remarks he is pointing toward the WAC Tournament in Las Cruces.
"This is a team I said from Day 1 is going to get better each week," he said. "Let's not kid ourselves. Only one WAC team will play in the NCAA Tournament. Nobody has the non-conference resume (to prove otherwise). Our regular-season goals are still the same. We're trying to get better.
"We're going to have some painful losses, but that's how you have to learn. We've got two important games next week, and we're trying to get two wins."
Senior Marcelus Kemp led the team with 23 points, his eighth 20-point game this year and the 31st of his career.
Kemp also extended his streak of games in double figures for scoring to 27 consecutive games and 58 of the last 60.
Kemp moved into sole possession of second place on the Nevada career list with 189 three-pointers made and stands just 20 behind Terrance Green (209, 1999-2003) for the Nevada career mark.
BAD ON THE GLASS
Nevada was outrebounded 38-29, and that's the seventh time this season Nevada has been beaten on the glass.
In those games, Nevada has posted a 1-6 record. Nevada was only outrebounded five times all of last season.
AROUND THE WAC
Utah State improved to 4-0 with a 79-64 victory over Idaho, as Stew Morrill notched his 226th win at USU to become the winningest coach in school history.
New Mexico State outlasted cellar-dwelling Louisiana Tech 63-54.
FACTS & FIGURES
The loss ended the Wolf Pack's 14-game WAC home winning streak and was the team's first conference home loss since falling to Utah State 59-53 on Jan. 23, 2006 at Lawlor Events Center... Nevada made a season-high nine 3-pointers but Boise State's 13 was the most allowed by the Pack this season ... The Wolf Pack continues WAC play in five days, traveling to New Mexico State on Thursday, Jan. 24 and to Louisiana Tech on Saturday, Jan. 26... Sophomore Brandon Fields and Demarshay Johnson each reached double figures with 16 and 10 points, respectively ... Nevada got just one basket from its bench, that being by Matt LaGrone. In the two games this past week, Nevada's bench has scored just two points.