Fazekas joins elite double double group
December 12, 2006
RENO – Nick Fazekas reached another milestone in an already illustrious career.
Fazekas, the Wolf Pack’s 6-11 All-American forward, became the fifth player in Western Athletic Conference history to score 2,000 career points and grab 1,000 rebounds.
Fazekas, who scored 19 points in 21st-ranked Nevada’s easy 76-58 win over Saint Mary’s Tuesday night at Lawlor Events Center, joined former Utah stars Keith Van Horn and Josh Grant, Rice’s Michael Harris and Arizona’s Bob Elliott in that illustrious group.
Fazekas, who currently stands at 2,005 points, eclipsed the 2,000 mark with a lay-up with 8:50 left in the game, and the 6,954 fans in attendance gave him a standing ovation as play continued.
“It feels good,” Fazekas said. “It was definitely something I was hoping to accomplish this year after I got quite a few points to pass Edgar Jones (career points). It definitely feels good for me, but it’s time to move on.
“It’s an accomplishment for me to do that. I didn’t expect to do that when I came to Nevada. For me to pass all these records and put my name in the record book, it feels good for me to do that.”
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“Nick is like a lot of guys,” Nevada coach Mark Fox said. “He’s a perfect example of what a student-athlete should be. He’s going to graduate. He’s a player who works at his game. I’m very proud of him. I know he’s more concerned about winning games, and when his career is said and done, he’ll look back and feel really proud that he came to Nevada.”
Nevada, 8-1, showed its resilience in bouncing back from its first loss of the season, a 58-49 setback to in-state rival UNLV last Saturday night.
“We were solid,” Fox said. “It counts as one win just like Saturday’s loss counted as one and not two losses.”
“This team (Nevada) is good,” SMC coach Randy Bennett said. “Marcelus Kemp played at a very high level. Our guards need to play better basketball and we need to take better shots. The only thing we can do is practice and get better.”
Nevada improved in two areas that Fox said needed to be cleaned up after the UNLV game – 3-point shooting and turnovers.
Nevada knocked down 10 of 14 3-point shots for a season-high 71 percent compared to its 1 for 15 against the Rebels.
The Pack turned the ball over 16 times compared to 21 in the previous game, and at least three of the ballhandling errors came after the outcome had long since been decided.
“Obviously we were better shooting the 3-pointer tonight,” Fox said. “We played within the system a little better and we were able to get into a rhythm.”
Especially Marcelus Kemp, who led the Pack with 20 points. After going 1 for 11 against UNLV, Kemp knocked down 7 of 11 field goal attempts, including all four attempts from beyond the arc.
Kemp said he had the same approach, but obviously with better results. He hit all three of his 3-point attempts in the final 20 minutes.
The Pack used two good scoring runs to build its seven-point halftime lead against the Gaels.
With the score tied at 7, Nevada got back-to-back treys from Kyle Shiloh (9 points) and JaVale McGee, and a short fadeaway by Fazekas for a 15-7 lead.
After SMC cut the lead to 18-14, the Pack scored 12 of the next 14 points to build a 14-point lead.
Freshman Brandon Fields scored on a nice drive, and after the Gaels missed two shots on their next possession, Ramon Sessions, who would later leave the game with a thigh injury in the second half, hit a runner in the key to make it 22-14. The Pack’s lead reached double digits when Tyrone Hanson slipped a nice pass to Denis Ikovlev, who scored on a lay-up. Ikovlev finished with a career-high 10 points and eight rebounds.
Blake Sholberg ended the drought with two foul shots, but Nevada reeled off six straight points, four by Fazekas and two on a transition lay-up by Shiloh, to make it 30-16 with 3:47 left.
The lead should have been bigger. Nevada had gone to a 2-3 zone and SMC turned the ball over four straight times, and Shiloh’s lay-up was the only time the Pack converted. Lyndale Burleson missed two free throws, Fazekas misfired and Hanson missed on the other three possessions.
If there was a down side to Nevada’s win it was the Pack’s man-to-man defense. Kemp, David Ellis and McGee all picked up two fouls in the first half.
“Our man defense isn’t very good right now,” Fox said. “Until we learn to defend without fouling, we’ll use zone.”
SMC scored the final seven points of the half, as Diamon Simpson scored on a putback, Wayne Hunter hit a pull-up jump shot and Brett Collins (16 points) buried a 3-pointer to make it 30-23.
Nevada opened the second half with a 16-3 run to take a 46-26 lead. Ikovlev started the surge with a 3-pointer and Sessions scored on a drive. Simpson (18 points) knocked down a free throw, but Kemp came back with a trey and Fazekas converted a three-point play to make it 41-24 with 16:12 left.
Sessions left the game 15 seconds later after being hammered by SMC’s John Winston while both were diving for a loose ball. He never returned.
Kemp scored on a jump shot, and after Omar Samhan put back an Ian O’Leary miss, Kemp knocked in a 3-pointer to up the lead to 46-26 with 14:43 left.
“The second half we came out with more tenacity and played better defense,” Fazekas said.
SMC never got closer than 13 points the rest of the way, as Fox used his bench liberally.