A win, but sticker shock for Pack
Appeal Sports Writer
LAS CRUCES, N.M – It was a bittersweet day for the 10th-ranked Nevada Wolf Pack.
As expected, top-seeded Nevada hammered Idaho, 88-56, in the WAC quarterfinals, but it may have lost the services of senior guard Kyle Shiloh to a left hamstring injury.
Nevada, which tied a school record with its 28th win, will play Utah State today at 5 p.m. (Channel 21, ESPN Radio 630 AM).
Shiloh slipped on the WAC logo at center court with less than six minutes left in the game, and gingerly left the court.
“Let that be a national statement for the entire nation because of the stickers on the floor,” an angry Mark Fox said after the game. “I just (probably) lost a player for the week because of that. It’s not New Mexico State’s fault because they have done a terrific job, but those stickers are dangerous and I lost a player because of that. He is probably done for the week.
“Let that be a statement for the entire nation that if you put them on the floor you put your kids at risk. He is a terrific player and I’m not sure how it will affect us until I know who we’re playing.”
Fox said that Shiloh would be re-evaluated by trainer Shelly Germann this morning, and that he would know more at that time. With high-scoring and energetic Jaycee Carroll going for the Aggies, it is safe to assume that Lyndale Burleson would start for Shiloh.
The game followed the same format as the Feb. 22 meeting in Moscow when the Wolf Pack scored 16 of the game’s first 18 en route to an 84-68 win. This time, Nevada looked even crisper if that’s possible, and the Vandals looked lost.
Idaho missed three shots and turned the ball over twice on its four possessions to open the game, and Nevada, led by Marcelus Kemp, went 4-for-4 from the field en route to the 9-0 lead. Kemp, who finished with 14 points, scored seven of those in that span.
Nevada went on two more good scoring runs in the half.
Kemp drained a 3-pointer, Shiloh scored on a reverse lay-up, David Ellis, who scored a career-high 11 points, scored from close range and then Nick Fazekas scored his first bucket of the game from the baseline to make it 28-10.
A 12-3 half-ending surge led by two Brandon Fields lay-ups, made it 49-24 at halftime. Nevada shot 59 percent from the floor, hitting 20 of 34 from the field, including 5-for-10 from beyond the 3-point line. Idaho shot a horrid 31 percent, knocking in 10 of 32.
“I thought that we were very unselfish in the first half,” Fox said. “We came out and played well. We really played well together. They understand how to play with each other.”
And, Idaho, which finished the season 4-27, had no answer.
“Nevada obviously is really good,” Idaho coach George Pfeifer said. “They came out from the start and played really well. We were back on our heels a little bit.
“Understand that they can pound the ball inside and shoot really well (from outside). We had a couple of breakdowns defensively, and they make you pay.”
Ten players scored in the first half, and Fazekas had just two points and got up only two shots. He said it’s easy to get out of rhythm when you sub so much, but winning the game was the most important thing.
With the prospect of playing three games in three days, Fox subbed liberally in the second half. Only one starter – Ramon Sessions – played more than 20 minutes (24). Nevada’s five freshmen played anywhere from six to 19 minutes.
“This is the first time that they (the freshmen) have played together as a group for an extended period of time and I thought they played well out there,” Fox said.
JaVale McGee tied his career high with eight points, hitting 4-for-6 from the floor. Matt LaGrone set a career high with seven points and tied a career best with eight rebounds. Fields finished with seven points and three rebounds. Richie Phillips contributed a basket and Tyrone Hanson went scoreless.
Even with Nevada playing its youngsters a lot in the second half, Idaho never trimmed the deficit to less than 23.
Nevada gained a 30-point lead three times in the game. A 3-pointer by Ellis made it 69-39 and baskets by LaGrone made it 74-44 and 87-56.
Fazekas said it was nice to get that 28th win, but there was more work to do.
“It’s a post-season victory, and it came in March so we’ll take it,” Fazekas said. “We won today and we’ll try to come out next time and get another win.”