Nevada receives dog fight in win
Appeal Sports Writer
RENO – Nevada coach Mark Fox expected a dogfight, and he got exactly that.
The 20th-ranked Pack needed a career 14-point night from Kyle Shiloh, a 20-point, 13-rebound effort from Nick Fazekas and 17 points from Mo Charlo to overcome Georgia 68-62 before a crowd of 9,845 Wednesday night at Lawlor Events Center.
Nevada improved to 8-1, and Georgia dropped to 7-3. The Pack will take two days off before resuming practice Christmas Eve in preparation for its game on Dec. 27 against Norfolk State.
“Georgia is an excellent basketball team,” Fox said. “I knew it would be a battle; just knew it all day. We executed better late than early.
“At half they had five threes and the second half they had one. We had a difficult time getting stops. Twos aren’t as painful as 3s. The second half we defended the 3-point line.”
Georgia went 5 for 11 from beyond the arc, which helped it run off 13 straight points in the first half. The ‘Dogs went 1 for 10 in the final 20 minutes, as the Pack stepped up the pressure. Also, the fact that Nevada had a 22-4 edge at the foul line, didn’t hurt, either.
“They were just a little tougher than us,” Georgia coach Dennis Felton said. “They got too many second opportunities.
“Fazekas is so good. He made two big-time plays that benefited them. He was terrific for them throughout the game. He’s one of the best players in the country.”
Fazekas had a rough first half, hitting just 3 for 10 from the field for eight points. He knocked down 5 of 6 in the final 20 minutes and had 12 in that span, including seven in the final five-plus minutes, which gave the Pack some breathing room.
Fazekas snapped a 54-all tie with a layup. After a miss by Billy Humphrey, Fazekas took another pass from Charlo and scored on a layup for a 58-54 lead with 3:55 left.
“I was just working for position,” Fazekas said. “Mo saw me at the right time. Basically I was just working for position.
“It was the reality of winning and losing. All of us love to win, and that is probably what flipped the switch. We were going to win or lose, and none of us like to lose.”
Younes Idrissi (16 points) threw down a fadeaway from the baseline over Fazekas, closing the gap to 58-56. Idrissi was 7 for 11 from the field, and made several nice shots despite good defensive pressure.
Fazekas scored on another nice pass, this one from Marcelus Kemp (9 points), extending the lead to 60-56. Steve Newman scored to make it a two-point game again, but Nevada scored the next five points for a 65-58 lead.
Chad Bell started the surge by hitting a free throw. After Levi Stukes missed a runner down the lane, Nevada called timeout with 1:29 left. Georgia was forced to foul, and Stukes fouled Shiloh, who calmly knocked down two free tosses for a 63-58 lead. Stukes lost the ball out of bounds on the ensuing possession, and Charlo scored with 46 seconds left.
Georgia never got closer than five the rest of the way.
It was just a different team in the second half. Nevada, after a 10-turnover first half, turned the ball over only four times in the final half. That and the 3-point defense made the difference.
Nevada’s first half was nothing to write home about. Nevada struggled, turning the ball over 10 times, and at one stretch went five straight trips downcourt without a shot. Also, Fazekas wasn’t overly involved, and his looks at the basket weren’t great.
Call it good defense by Georgia. Call it a layoff because of finals. Call it poor coaching. Fazekas preferred the layoff. Fox preferred the latter.
“We didn’t play that well,” Fazekas said. “We were sluggish because of the nine days off.”
“It was bad coaching,” Fox said. “I did a terrible job of getting him the ball (in the right places).”
Georgia’s perimeter game, which Fox raved about earlier in the week, sparked a 13-0 run midway through the half that wiped out a 21-13 deficit.
Stukes bombed a three, and nearly a minute later, Humphrey threw down a trey, chopping the lead to 21-19. Humphrey knocked down another three to regain the lead for the Bulldogs, 22-21. Idrissi converted a layup as did Channing Toney to make it 26-21 with 4:43 left.
Charlo and Ramon Sessions, both of whom had been sitting during much of Georgia’s run came back into the lineup, and the Pack went on a half-ending 9-3 run to take a 30-29 lead into the lockerroom.
Sessions, who has been bothered by a hip flexor, threw down two shots inside the key to cut the deficit to 26-25.
“I was the only one that thought he should sit,” Fox said. “He’s been pain free. He didn’t play great, but he made a couple of key plays late in the first half.”
Charlo gave Nevada a 28-26 lead when he scored on a putback after a Shiloh airball. He was fouled on the play and made the free throw. Mike Mercer (11 points) threw in a 3-pointer to regain the lead for the ‘Dogs at 29-28, but Fazekas, who suffered through a 3-for-10 first half, slipped a pass to Charlo for a dunk with 28.6 left.
Georgia built up a four-point lead, 36-32, in the early minutes of the second half. Kemp, who struggled in the first half, hit a free throw, a 3-pointer and two more free throws to give the Pack a 47-46 lead.
“He had a tough first half,” Fox said. “He just needed one to drop. He finally made one and then two free throws and that got us the lead.”
The game remained close the rest of the way until Nevada’s burst late in the game.
Contact Darrell Moody at email@example.com, or 881-1281