Fazekas goes for the record tonight
Appeal Sports Writer
RENO – All eyes are usually centered on 6-11 All-American forward Nick Fazekas each time Nevada’s basketball team takes the floor, and tonight is no exception.
Fazekas, in case you’ve been hiding under a rock and aren’t up to date on current events, is 18 points shy of becoming the Pack’s career scoring leader heading into tonight’s home game (7:05 p.m.) against University of Arkansas- Pine Bluff at Lawlor Events Center.
Fazekas has scored 1,860 points in 101 games with Nevada, and Edgar Jones, whose uniform (No. 32) now hangs in Lawlor, scored 1,877 in 101 games from 1976 to 1979.
It was inevitable that Fazekas would break the record sometime early in this year, and obviously local fans are hoping he does it at home rather than on the road. If it doesn’t happen tonight, it will happen against UC Irvine on Tuesday night.
“It hasn’t been a distraction,” said Nevada coach Mark Fox, who won’t let it become that. “It’s a great accomplishment.”
Especially when you consider he usually is doubled and sometimes even triple-teamed when he gets the ball in the low block. Trying to score against that kind of pressure is like trying to make a hole in one in miniature golf with an octopus guarding the cup. It’s nearly impossible, but Fazekas continually finds ways to score.
Van Holt, who coaches Arkansas Pine-Bluff, knows all about Fazekas and Marcelus Kemp, too.
“I know about the dynamic duo,” said Holt, whose team is coming off a season-opening 81-45 loss to Air Force. “They are both big kids and great players. It’s so difficult when we have to go up against a 6-11 player. We don’t have anybody to match up with him.
“The only reason I scheduled this game was because Fazekas was going to go pro, and then two weeks before the draft he decides to come back, so I’m left holding the bag.”
This is the second of five straight road games, including Fresno State, Nebraska and Creighton. Holt said his squad also will take on UTEP and New Mexico State. No doubt these are money games because no coach in his right mind would schedule this many tough opponents.
With 6-10 center Jarvis Gunter nursing a fractured tibia, according to Holt, Fazekas will have a decided height advantage inside. The Golden Lions’ next-biggest players are 6-7 220-pound freshman forward Tyree Glass and 6-7 180-pound forward William Byrd.
No doubt that reserve front-line players David Ellis and JaVale McGee also will get some pretty good looks at the basket. Both Ellis and McGee have been giving Fox some quality minutes inside, and it’s critical that one or both step up big-time this season.
Fox said he doesn’t know much about Arkansas-Pine Bluff.
“They are a quick, athletic team,” Fox said. “It was hard getting information on them.”
Byrd led the Golden Lions against Air Force with 17 points and five rebounds, and reserve guard Larry Williams added nine points and Frierson seven.
Holt wants to see two things from his team tonight, win or lose.
“Defensively, we’ve got to improve,” Holt said. “We extended our defense too far the other night. We didn’t do a good job.
“Offensively, we have to be more patient; run our offense. We put up shots too quickly. We were not disciplined enough, and I’ll take responsibility for that.”
The Golden Lions are running into a Nevada defense that played one its best games in recent memory. Nevada limited Oregon State to 29 percent shooting and only 47 points Wednesday night.
“We were playing a team that was playing its fourth game in six days,” Fox said. “We want to play good defense every time we’re out there.”
Fox probably doesn’t want to sound too happy. He needs to keep his team on edge and hungry. He wants improvement and the players buy in, always saying they can play better.
Notes: Fox said that he didn’t play many of the youngsters because of their lack of experience in road games, which is why other than JaVale McGee, who played 10 minutes and scored four points and pulled down four rebounds, the remainder of the freshmen played sparingly or not at all … Nevada has shot 50 percent or better the first two games and have out-rebounded opponents 93-54 … Nevada has won 10 straight at home dating back to last season.
• Contact Darrel Moody at email@example.com, or by calling (775) 881-1281
ARK. PINE-BLUFF (0-1) at NEVADA (2-0)
When: Tonight, 7:05 p.m.
Where: Lawlor Events Center
TV: wactv.com, cost is $7.95
Radio: ESPN 630 AM on a tape-delayed basis following the UNR football game
Last game: Air Force 81, Arkansas Pine-Bluff 45; Nevada 75, Oregon State 47
Probable starters: APB – F Tyree Glass, William Byrd; G Jason Frierson, Timothy Hamilton, Marcelle Goins. NEVADA F Nick Fazekas (24.0, 14.0), Denis Ikovlev (7.0, 5.0); G Ramon Sessions (12.5, 4.0), Kyle Shiloh (4.5, 3.5), Marcelus Kemp (23.0, 2.0)
The pick: Nevada 80, Arkansas Pine-Bluff 65