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Nevada, Kansas win at Lawlor

Nevada Appeal Staff Reports

By DARRELL MOODY

Nevada Appeal News Service

RENO – David Padgett grew up following the University of Nevada basketball team, and he even played some games at Lawlor Events Center.

Now, Padgett the former Reno High star, gets a chance to play against his hometown school when No. 6 Kansas plays Nevada tonight at 7:30 p.m.in the second day of the Dodge Holiday Classic at Lawlor Events Center.

Both Kansas and Nevada were easy first-night winners. Nevada used a 25-2 run to demolish Alabama State 70-43, and the Jayhawks scored 48 second-half points en route to a 72-52 win over UC Santa Barbara before a crowd of 8,610 Saturday night.

Many were there to see Padgett, an All-American at Reno High.

“I used 17 tickets, and that was just for my immediate family,” said the 6-foot-11 Kansas freshman. “All my friends from high school were here. I couldn’t even guess how many (came to watch me).”

Unfortunately, Padgett’s homecoming was a tough one. He scored three points, hitting just one of eight field-goal attempts, and pulled down four rebounds in his 25-minute stint. He didn’t hit the scoring column until there was 5:20 left in the game, knocking down a field goal from 17 feet.

“I struggled to get shots to fall,” Padgett said. “I’m not going to get frustrated. It was just one of those nights. It (only field goal) came pretty late. Better to get that to fall than putting up a goose egg.

“I was more nervous than usual. Everybody was supportive. Once the game started, I loosened up a bit.”

Normally homecoming games come later in a player’s career. Padgett’s coach said he felt for Padgett’s.

“I don’t think it’s fair to David, but it’s great for Reno,” KU coach Bill Self said. “To put a young man under pressure like that seven games into his career… I don’t think it was fair for David.”

Padgett’s off night was no big deal for the Jayhawks, who have plenty of firepower, and showed it early in the second half.

Leading 24-21 thanks to eight points and 12 rebounds by Wayne Simien, Kansas went on a 15-4 tear to take a 17-point lead with 16-plus minutes left in the game.

Keith Langford (19 points) hit a layup after a UCSB turnover, and after a blocked shot, Aaron Miles (13 points) hit a layup to make it 28-18 with 19:22 remaining. Cameron Goettsche broke the run with a nice shot in the key over Padgett to make it 28-20, but a three-point field goal by J.R. Giddens (15 points) and a three-point play by Langford pushed the lead to 14, 34-20.

Casey Cook answered for the Gauchos with a nice baseline jump shot, but five straight points by Miles completed the run.

Cook led UCSB with 16 points, and Josh Davis added eight.

Self said in his post-game interview that the Jayhawks need to get off to a better start, and shoot the ball better throughout the game.

“If we play like we did tonight, they could beat us,” Self said. “We have to come in ready to play. Even when you play well, there are no guarantees.”

Nevada’s Trent Johnson was singing the same tune after his club’s easy win over Alabama State. He was already looking toward tonight’s game with Kansas.

“That Kansas group makes you work for everything,” he said. “Coach Self has them defending better I think than they did last year. We have to come out and play really, really well to be in the game.The kids know what’s in store for them.”

“”They have some big guys,” forward Kevinn Pinkney said. “They’ll try to bang us (around). We have to come together as a team and play good defense.”

This will be Nevada’s second test against a ranked opponent. Earlier, Nevada dropped a 93-79 decision to then top-ranked UConn, but played the Huskies tough most of the way. Don’t look for them to be in awe of the Jayhawks.

On the plus side, Johnson will have plenty of fresh players.

Kirk Snyder, after getting two quick charging fouls, played a paltry 11 minutes. He scored only two points. Garry Hill-Thomas played only 16 minutes, but finished with eight points.

“I thought it was a good chance to get Jermaine Washington some minutes, and to give Seth (Taylor) some minutes, and to give other guys the opportunity that haven’t played a lot, a chance to play.”

Washington took advantage of his opportunity, scoring a team-high 13 points and pulling down 10 rebounds, including eight at the offensive end.

Washington and Pinkney (12 points) were right in the middle of the aforementioned 25-2 onslaught, which spanned the final 1:20 of the first half, and the first 9:30 of the second half.

Nevada finished the first half with two foul shots by Sean Paul and a bucket by Marcelus Kemp to take a 32-21 halftime lead, and then scored the first nine points of the second half. Pinkney had a dunk and two free throws, and Todd Okeson contributed a three-pointer.

After an Alabama State score, Nevada went on a 12-0 run for a 53-23 lead with 10:30 left in the game. Pinkney threw down another dunk and made two free throws, and Washington had a foul shot and an impressive putback.

“They got the ball to me where I could score,” said Pinkney of his teammates. “I stayed under the basket, and they gave me the ball, and I was able to capitalize on their passes.”