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Nevada knows what to do without Fazekas

DARRELL MOODY
Appeal Sports Writer

NEW ORLEANS, La. – No Nick Fazekas would have been a source of concern in the past couple of years for the Nevada Wolf Pack.

After having played without him for five-plus minutes against Gonzaga when he fouled out and 2 1/2 games after he sprained his left ankle against Boise State, the rest of the Nevada players don’t fret, and they certainly know what to do.

“The experience of Nick fouling out (against Gonzaga) helped us a little bit,” Marcelus Kemp said. “The team plays well when he is out. We have a lot of options. I know the team can do it without Nick. He has the confidence in us that we can play without him.”

Fazekas left the game with 3:06 remaining in overtime with Nevada up by a basket, and the 13th-ranked and seventh-seeded Wolf Pack went on to a 77-71 win over 10th-seeded Creighton Friday afternoon at New Orleans Arena.

“It reminded me of the Gonzaga game,” said Fazekas, who scored 17 points and grabbed 11 rebounds for the 62nd double-double of his illustrious career. “It was like instant replay because I fouled out at about the same time. I did not have any doubt at all that Marcelus (Kemp) or (Kyle) Shiloh could take over and that’s what they did.”

Kemp, Shiloh and Ramon Sessions all made big plays down the stretch to give Nevada its school-record 29th win.

FUNK IS TOUGH

Creighton’s Nate Funk was just as good as advertised.

Funk went 10-for-21 from the floor and finished with 23 points. He closed his Creighton career with 1,754 points, sixth-best all-time.

“Nick is the key to the team,” Nevada guard Kyle Shiloh said. “When he scores and gets going, they win games.

“We didn’t really stop him. We just contained him and that’s all you can do with good players like that.”

Funk had 10 at the half, and scored 13 combined points in the second half and overtime.

Nevada did play him tough down the stretch, forcing him to miss three of his last four field-goal attempts.

MEMPHIS IS NEXT

Memphis could be the quickest and most-athletic team Nevada has faced this season.

“I’ve never coached in an NBA game before, but from what I watched of them we will be playing one on Sunday,” Nevada coach Mark Fox said. “They are a terrific team and coach (John) Calipari has done a terrific job with that team this year.

“He has won in a a lot of places, and he is doing a good job organizing the great players that he has and that is why they are one of the premiere teams in the country.”

SHORTENED ROTATION

Fox has been criticized by some fans for playing his freshmen so many minutes this season, and he really shortened his bench on Friday.

The Pack used just eight players, and 6-11 freshman JaVale McGee was the only freshman to get any playing time (9 minutes). He responded with a basket on his only attempt and five rebounds.

“It was disappointing to see Nick walk off the floor with his fifth foul in a tight ballgame, but I have confidence in all of these kids,” Fox said. “We didn’t panic and kept playing. JaVale was certainly a big key to the game. He played like a sophomore not a freshman and he didn’t try to do things he couldn’t do.”

McGee guarded Anthony Tolliver, and at least in one instance, forced him to alter his shot.

“I felt that he did a decent job,” Tolliver said. “He is a good player, long and tall. He has a similar build to Nick Fazekas. He did a pretty good job.”

SHILOH HOLDS UP WELL

Senior guard Kyle Shiloh played all but three minutes of the game, finishing with 10 points, seven rebounds and three assists, despite playing with a strained left hamstring.

“It’s good,” Shiloh said after the game. “I’ll be fine for Sunday.”

Shiloh said that he would get treatment when he wasn’t in the game, and that trainer Shelly Germann used heat packs to keep the hamstring warm and loose.

NOTABLES

Memphis has advanced to the second round for the third straight year. It’s the first time that has happened since the Tigers won their first tournament game from 1982 to 1986 … The Tigers have won a school-record 31 games. The last time Memphis lost was at then No. 9 Arizona back on Dec. 20 … North Texas finished the season with a school record 23 wins … North Texas guard Calvin Watson drained two 3-pointers, giving him a school-record 90 for the season and a career record of 208 … This is the second time in Creighton’s last four tournament appearances that their opening game went to overtime. In 2002, Creighton beat Florida in double-overtime … Creighton turned the ball over just a season-low six times against Nevada … Nevada blocked a season-high nine shots with Fazekas getting four of those … Nevada is now 24-3 when out-rebounding its opponent.

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