Fazekas becomes all-time leading scorer in win
Appeal Sports Writer
RENO – Move over Edgar Jones, there’s a new scoring king in town.
Nick Fazekas became Nevada’s all-time scoring leader with a tip-in with 17:42 left in the game, and the 23rd-ranked Wolf Pack went on to an easy 82-63 victory over the University of Arkansas-Pine Bluff before an announced crowd of 7,435 Saturday night at Lawlor Events Center.
Fazekas didn’t play the final 12:45 of the contest, but still finished with 20 points and 17 rebounds. He now has 1,880 points in 102 games. Jones, who scored 1,877 points, had held the record since 1979.
There wasn’t time to stop the game after he set the record, but when Nevada got the ball back, coach Mark Fox called a 30-second timeout so the crowd could truly honor the accomplishment, and there wasn’t a fan in the building sitting down. One by one, his teammates came up to congratulate him, and Marcelus Kemp was the first one there.
“It’s a good feeling,” said Fazekas, who was presented with the game ball by Fox after the game, and then shared a quick hug with his coach. “It’s something special for me that maybe 20 or 30 years down the road I can talk about.”
Fazekas said he knew he had the record when the crowd stood up and cheered the simple putback.
“Everybody before the game said 18, 18,” Fazekas said. “I figured it out when I looked up at the scoreboard and it said 18. It’s not everytime I score a basket and the whole place stands up and goes nuts.”
And, it certainly makes his decision to stay for his senior year nicer.
“It was the best decision I could make,” Fazekas said. “We’re looking to have a good year, and I wanted to be part of it. To come back and be that much better, it feels great.
“I talked to my dad this morning and he told me not to put too much pressure on myself (tonight).”
Certainly it was better to get it out of the way early, though Fox said it wasn’t a distraction.
“It’s a tremendous accomplishment,” Fox said. “Edgar Jones was a great player. Nick has been a phenomenal player for us. He’s been very patient even when he’s got to sit on the bench because we’re ahead.
“He probably could have broken it the first game of the year (Alaska-Anchorage when he scored 29) if I’d have left him in. I was glad to see Marcelus out there first to congratulate him.”
Fazekas teased the Lawlor Faithful early when he scored eight straight points to lead the Pack on a game-opening 11-2 run, and they probably thought the record would fall in the first half.
From that point, Fazekas was in and out of the lineup.
The Golden Lions took advantage of Nevada’s constant shuffling of players, which resulted in 11 first-half turnovers and nine Arkansas-Pine Bluff points.
A reverse layin by Marcelle Goins and a putback by Terrance Calvin (17 points) sliced Nevada’s lead to 22-13 with 7:44 left in the opening half.
The Pack went on a 13-5 run to extend their lead to 35-18 with 2:04 remaining in the half. Brandon Fields knocked down a jump shot from the left side, Denis Ikovlev drained a 3-pointer and Fazekas added a bank shot to make it 29-13. A layup by William Byrd broke the drought, but two free throws by Richie Phillips, a bucket by Fazekas and a coast-to-coast drive by Ramon Sessions (13 points, 5 assists) completed the run. Nevada went into the dressing room with a 41-22 lead.
Fazekas scored eight of Nevada’s first 10 points in the second half, including the record-breaking tip-in, to give Nevada a 49-30 lead. Arkansas Pine-Bluff scored five straight points to slice the lead to 14, but two free throws by Kemp (15 points in 21 minutes), a 3-pointer by Sessions, a layup by Lyndale Burleson and a putback by David Ellis gave the Pack their biggest lead of the night, 58-35, with 13:03 left.
Fazekas and Kemp left the game for good at the 12:45 mark, and except for Kyle Shiloh (10 points) and Sessions at the point, the fans got a look at the future Pack stars the rest of the way. There was some good play and bad play, which is what you expect from young players.
Nevada, led by Sessions, scored 11 of the final 16 points of the game after the Golden Lions had trimmed the lead to 71-58.
Nevada did shoot 50 percent or better for the third straight game, but it did turn the ball over 23 times.
“It was a win,” Fox said. “It counts the same as the last one. I tied our hands offensively. I didn’t let them run a lot of things.”
“We played well enough,” Fazekas said. “We didn’t play as well defensively as we did against Oregon State. That’s how it goes. It wasn’t one of our prettier wins.”
Defensively, the Pack allowed too many easy looks in the second half, and they allowed too much penetration. The Golden Lions only shot 29 percent in the first half, but shot 52 percent in the second half.
Van Holt, the Golden Lions’ head coach, was happy with his team’s play, especially in the second half. It was a big improvement from the 81-45 loss to Air Force.
“We were more disciplined on offense tonight,” Holt said. “We played hard, and we played about as well as we could defensively. The big kid (Fazekas) and Kemp are pretty good ballplayers. We didn’t have enough size to come close to guarding Fazekas.
“Nevada has a pretty good team and they can score. They should be a team to be reckoned with in their conference. If you are outclassed, you’re outclassed.”