Nevada hopes to continue success on the road
Appeal Sports Writer
One down and two tough ones to go.
Nevada, 5-0 and ranked 20th in the USA Today poll and 24th in the AP poll, plays its second straight game on the road tonight (5 p.m.) when it travels to Bayou country to take on University of Louisiana-Lafayette at the Cajundome.
Going on the road might be a scary proposition for some teams, but not the Wolf Pack, who are 23-5 on the road (not neutral-court games) since the start of the 2004 season. Included in that mark was a perfect 9-0 within the Western Athletic Conference during the 2004-05 campaign. Following tonight’s game, Nevada faces Cal in San Jose as part of the Pete Newell Challenge.
Nevada coach Mark Fox has continually stressed that mental toughness, rebounding and defense as being the keys to winning away from home.
“Defense and rebounding (well) always gives us a chance to win,” Fox said by telephone Tuesday morning. “The kids like playing on the road.”
Nevada actually left a day early for this trip. The Pack flew to New Orleans Monday after classes, and then bussed to Lafayette, which is about two hours away.
“It’s a long trip,” Fox said. “We didn’t really get a chance to relax. We didn’t get in until 12:30 a.m. I wanted to make sure we had time to practice and get the kids prepared for the game.”
This is a different Cajun team from the one that visited Reno last December and gave the Pack all they wanted before falling 65-58.
“They are different,” Fox said. “Last year they just tried to overpower you. They are still long, and they definitely have explosive scoring.”
Fox was referring to 6-7 wing Ross Mouton, who was averaging 20.5 and nearly six rebounds a game, and 6-3 guard David Dees, a JC transfer, who is averaging 22.8 points and 8 rebounds a contest.
“Mouton is a really good player,” Fox said. “He’s got great size, and it will be a challenge for us. We’ll see how we fare. Dees is a powerful scorer. He can do both (drive and shoot it from the outside).”
Fox wants to see his team play better defense from the outset tonight. Santa Clara hit its first seven shots from the field and shot 48 percent from the field, well above the 39 percent the defense has allowed.
The Cajuns will have their hands full defensively with the undefeated Pack. Nevada is 5-0 for the second straight season, a first in school history, and shooting 50 percent from the field, including 47 percent from beyond the 3-point arc.
All-American forward Nick Fazekas, who was the WAC Player of the Week, is averaging 25 points and 14.8 rebounds a game. He has five straight double-doubles this season.
Ramon Sessions is averaging 12 a game and Marcelus Kemp is at 19 a contest.
• Contact Darrell Moody at email@example.com, or by calling (775) 881-1281
NEVADA (5-0) AT LOUISIANA-LAFAYETTE (1-4)
When: Tonight, 5:05 p.m.
Where: Cajundome (11,500)
Radio: ESPN 630 AM, pregame at 4:35 p.m.
Last meeting: Nevada 65, La.-Lafayette 58 on Dec. 29, 2005
Probable starters: NEVADA – F Nick Fazekas (25.0, 14.8), Denis Ikovlev (6.2, 3.6); G Marcelus Kemp (19.0, 2.6), Ramon Sessions (12.2, 3.6), Kyle Shiloh (8.0., 3.0); ULL – F Adam James (1.5, 3.5), Courtney Wallace (4.8, 5.3); G Ross Mouton (20.5, 5.8), David Dees (22.8, 8.0), Rhett Hebert (6.0, 2.5)
Prediction: Nevada 67, La. Lafayette 61