Nevada falls to UCLA
Appeal Sports Writer
ANAHEIM, Calif. – The game was there for the taking. Nevada had closed UCLA’s nine-point halftime lead to one point, and was ready to take charge of the game.
Enter Jordan Farmar, and poof went Nevada’s chances for another victory away from home.
Farmar keyed a 16-4 run with 10 points, including two 3-point baskets, sparking UCLA to a 67-56 nonconference win at the John Wooden Classic Saturday afternoon at the Arrowhead Pond.
Instead of red and blue, this Superman wore white with powder blue and gold trim, and he conquered a pretty good Nevada team in the process, sending the Pack to their first loss of the season.
Nevada had just pulled to 46-45 with 8:36 left in the game when Farmar went off. First it was a three and then a runner over Nick Fazekas. He later scored on a layup and added another trey. When the barrage ended, UCLA had a 62-47 lead and control of the game.
“Jordan Farmar is a great player and he took over the game,” Nevada coach Mark Fox said. “That certainly was the difference. He just made baskets tonight.
“UCLA outplayed us a in a lot of ways. They played very well and we’re certainly disappointed with the loss. UCLA has an excellent basketball team. They deserve credit for the victory. We got close, but we couldn’t score. We just didn’t have enough left to get over the hump.”
Farmar, who has been bothered by ankle problems, was 10 for 13 from the floor. He hit 6 of 7 in the second half, as the Bruins shot 11 for 19 from the field in the final 20 minutes to finish at 52.2 for the game.
“Coach called a couple of plays for me, and I just knocked down the shots,” Farmar said. “I was just looking to be aggressive and I had a lot of opportunities.”
Farmar estimates that he’s playing at about 90 percent.
“Jordan is in better condition now,” UCLA coach Ben Howland said. “He made those big threes when we made our run in the last five minutes of the game. He made big shots for us all night.”
Fazekas said that Farmar’s 3-point percentage was down this year, and they weren’t sure what to expect.
“We weren’t sure if he was too good or not,” Fazekas said. “He proved he was today.
“You’ve got to credit their offensive scheme because they’ve got a lot of good plays. Things just weren’t going our way and our shots weren’t going in.”
The Bruins had tremendous success throughout the game, but especially in the first half with their use of screens. Nevada’s guards were unable to get out quick enough on them, and the big men would often get caught out of position. The Pack seemed a step slow all day.
“It’s tough to run around those screens,” Fazekas said. “Their guys were running around a lot doing double moves. They executed better than we did.”
At both ends of the floor. The Pack shot a season-low 37 percent, and Howland said that keyed the win.
“I thought the keys for us were our field goal percentage defense and that our team really came out and played great man-to-man defense,” Howland said. “Our trapping of (Nick) Fazekas really helped us, especially in the first half.”
Indeed. Fazekas, when he got the ball on the low post, was surrounded by UCLA post players. He hit 3 for 6 from the floor, but didn’t get a lot of touches.
The second half was a different story for Fazekas, who finished with 24 points. Fazekas knocked down 6 of 12 from the floor.
“He really came to life,” Howland said. “He’s a great player. Because of him they came back.”
“I felt like I was getting more touches on the offensive glass,” Fazekas said.
And, that keyed Nevada’s comeback.
Fazekas scored nine points in a five-minute stretch, pulling Nevada to within 39-38. He hit a 3-pointer off a long rebound, hit a tough fade from the baseline and had two putbacks, one of which he was sent sprawling to the floor.
Nevada had a couple of chances to take the lead, but a Fazekas shot went in and out, and Marcelus Kemp, who was an ice-cold 2 for 11, was called for walking.
Ryan Hollins hit two free throws to make it 41-38, and then Fox was whistled for a technical call.
Fox felt that a UCLA rebounder had gone over Kyle Shiloh’s back to get a rebound. Fox protested and was warned by the official to stop. He didn’t, and Arron Afflalo (18 points, 8 rebounds) knocked down both free throws to make it 43-38. Ryan Wright added another free throw on the ensuing possession to make it 44-38 with 10:51 left.
That’s when Nevada made its last run. Chad Bell hit a hook in the lane, and Mo Charlo (13 points, 10 rebounds) knocked down two free throws. Fazekas converted a UCLA turnover into a basket to make it 46-45, setting the stage for Farmar and the Bruins.
“It was an outstanding win for our team because we beat a really good team,” Howland said. “Any team with 14 straight wins on the road is just outstanding. They have a chance to advance far in the NCAA Tournament, so it’s really a quality win. They have a chance to go into the tournament with less than five losses. That’s my prediction.”
The Pack hopes that comes to fruition.