Nevada hosts Pacific | NevadaAppeal.com

Nevada hosts Pacific

DARRELL MOODY

RENO – When you are struggling on defense like Nevada has in recent games, Pacific is a team you don’t want to see.

Nevada, 4-2, has given up an average of 82 points per game over its last three outings, and first-year head coach Mark Fox admits he;s concerned about that facet of Nevada’s game heading into tonight’s nonconference contest (7:05 p.m.) against the Tigers at Lawlor Events Center.

The Tigers, 3-1 this year and coming off an NCAA Tournament appearance a year ago, are a multi-dimensional team that has the height and strength to score inside and the skill to score from outside.

All five starters – 6-7 forward Jasko Korajkic (10.8), 6-9 forward Christian Maraker (15.0), 6-9 250-pound center Guillaume Yango (13.0), 6-5 shooting guard Marko Mihailovic (10.3) and 6-1 point guard David Doubley (10.3) – all average double figures. Another thing that makes the Tigers dangerous is that they shoot 43 percent from beyond the three-point arc.

“They are extremely balanced,” Fox said. “They take what the defense gives them. They’re very good. They have a lot of experience off last year’s team. They have good front-line players and they shoot it well from the outside. Maraker is extremely skilled with his back to the basket and facing the basket. Doubly shoots the ball well and runs the team.

“We are not anywhere close to where we need to be defensively. We’re not executing fundamentals; not playing good team defense.”

Last year’s Nevada team had a lot of offensive firepower, but it also had the defensive ability to get stops, especially at critical times. This year’s team hasn’t demonstrated that ability yet.

Bob Thomason, Pacific’s veteran head coach, hasn’t been happy with his team’s defense, either.

“We haven’t been able to sustain any defense the first few games,” Thomason said. “In the second half, we’ve have that hold on mentality.”

The only common opponent the teams have is Kansas. Nevada lost 85-52 and UOP lost 71-60.

“We handled the environment and the physical part of the game,” Thomason.said. “I thought it (Nevada’s game against Kansas) would be a 30-point game. They are a pretty young team with pretty young guards and it was a five-day road trip. We just went to Kansas and played Kansas. There’s a difference.

“The biggest difference (in Nevada) is that they had senior guards and (Kirk) Snyder was a junior. The seniors did a great job of running the team. They seem to be shooting the ball better right now. Inside, (Kevin) Pinkney is better than last year and (Nick) Fazekas is better.”

Pinkney scored 25 against Toledo and raised his scoring average to 13.7 a game. Fazekas is averaging 20.7 points and 7.7 rebounds per game.

Freshman point guard Ramon Sessions is averaging 8.8 points and 5.7 assists per game and junior swingman Mo Charlo is averaging 7.8 points and 2.7 rebounds a contest. Sessions has 19 assists and only seven turnovers in his last two games. That’s the kind of ratio Fox hopes he can count on the entire season.

Charlo is averaging 11 points a game over the last two games, and Shiloh had a season-high 11 points against Toledo on Tuesday, sinking three three-pointers.

Fox would like to start seeing better play from Jermaine Washington, who is averaging 6.3 points and 5.3 rebounds per game.

“He”s not playing very well,” Fox said. “He’s been average, and we need him to be better than average for this team. I don’t get caught up in points. We need him to start making some plays.”

Contact Darrell Moody at dmoody@nevadaappeal.com or 881-1281.

Pacific (3-1) at Nevada (4-2)

When: Tonight, 7:05 p.m.

Where: Lawlor Events Center

Tickets: $9, $11 and $13.

Radio: ESPN Radio 630AM. Pre-game starts at 6:35 p.m.

Last year: Pacific won 82-76 in Stockton, Calif.

Coaches: Mark Fox, Nevada; Bob Thomason, Pacific

Probable starters: Pacific – F Jasko Korajkic and Christian Maraker; C Guillaume Yango; G David Doubley and Marko Mihailovic. Nevada – F Jermaine Washington and Nick Fazekas; C Kevinn Pinkney; G Ramon Sessions and Kyle Shiloh