Fazekas, Nevada have their way with Anchorage
Appeal Sports Writer
RENO – Nick Fazekas had a decided height edge against the University of Alaska-Anchorage, and the Nevada Wolf Pack used it to their advantage.
Fazekas scored 23 of his game-high 29 points in the first half, and also grabbed 10 rebounds to lead 24th-ranked Nevada to an easy 85-62 victory in its season opener Friday night before a crowd of 7,782 at Lawlor Events Center.
Fazekas now has 1,841 career points, 37 points shy of breaking Edgar Jones’ record of 1,877. Jones played in 101 career games, and Fazekas has now played in 100, and has an outside shot at breaking the record Wednesday at Oregon State.
“He had a great start,” Fox said. “It was a good effort. If I had left him in, he could have gone for a bunch. He scored on several different type of plays.”
“He’s good,” said Rusty Osborne, Alaska-Anchorage head coach. “We didn’t have anybody to match up with him. I think he played pretty hard, and I know that’s been a knock on him.”
Fazekas scored a whopping 19 points in a span of 7-minutes 14-seconds, helping Nevada build a 40-23 lead with 4:31 left in the first half. Fazekas hit 8-for-11 from the field.
Fazekas posted up for inside shots, hit from the outside and even followed in a couple of misses, as he finished the half with five offensive rebounds and seven total rebounds against the much-smaller Seawolves.
“I wasn’t even cognizant of that,” Fazekas said when asked if he realized what a scoring run he put together. “The guys were giving me the ball in the right spots, and the shots were falling.”
The rest of the team shot only 7-for-26 from the floor, a paltry 27 percent.
Nevada finished the half with a 41-29 bulge, but Fox was unhappy with his team’s defense down the stretch. He wanted to see better defense this time around, and the Pack accomplished that to a degree.
“I was happy with the first 12 minutes, but I wasn’t pleased with the last eight minutes of the first half,” Fox said.
In that span, Nevada gave up a couple of 3-pointers and let the Seawolves sneak inside for a couple of lay-ups.
The teams played on even terms for the first three-plus minutes of the second half, but Nevada put the game out of reach with 17 straight points during a 23-3 run to make it 69-37 with 11:08 left.
A lay-up by Ramon Sessions (15 points), a lay-up by Denis Ikovlev, a 3-pointer by Ikovlev, a slam by Sessions and a lay-up by Sessions made it 57-34. After an Alaska-Anchorage timeout, Fazekas scored two quick buckets and Sessions added another score. Sessions didn’t start the game because Fox was upset with his practice performance.
“We got points in the second half off our defense,” Fox said. “We’re too immature to play defense when we have a lead.”
“I think they (Nevada) played harder,” Osborne said. “We were shooting the ball too quickly. We didn’t make them defend very long.”
Kemp, who didn’t start for disciplinary reasons, drained two 3-pointers to complete the aforementioned run. He added two more long-range baskets over the next three minutes, as Nevada upped its lead to 77-44 with 8:14 remaining.
“I thought we played well,” Fazekas said. “Not as good as I know we can. It’s definitely a good starting point.”
Speaking of good starts, Fox was pleased with the play of David Ellis, who scored two quick hoops to help Nevada get out to a 13-2 lead. Ellis is one of five players competing for a starting role alongside Fazekas. he finished with four points, three rebounds and a blocked shot.
“He played well early,” Fox said. “David is coming along. I’m pleased with how he is playing.”
With Fox mixing and matching combinations, Alaska-Anchorage trimmed the lead to 24-17 with 8:04 left, as Cameron Burney knocked down two 3-pointers, Buddy Bailey added one and Carl Arts one.
Fazekas scored on a putback, a runner and two free throws to help boost the lead to 33-18 with 6:17 left. Fazekas added a lay-up, 3-pointer and two free throws as part of his scoring binge.
“I don’t have a rotation yet,” Fox said. “We’re still experimenting. We have much more information now going into the Oregon State game. We tried different line-ups, but we have to settle in on something that works.”
All 13 players saw action Friday, but that probably won’t happen against Beavers, who beat Portland 65-48 on Friday.
Fox was thankful to have a game under his belt before heading to Corvallis. The Beavers will be a little better off, having played three times before meeting the Pack.