Nevada rolls to easy win
Appeal Sports Writer
RENO – It was the best half of basketball that Nevada coach Mark Fox has seen Nevada play in a while, and it was more than enough for an impressive victory.
Nevada scored 50 first-half points, defended well and rebounded well in an impressive 81-67 win over Boise State Saturday night before a crowd of 8,757 at Lawlor Events Center.
Nevada improved to 3-1 in Western Athletic Conference play and 13-3 overall. Boise State dropped to 8-7 overall and 1-3 in conference.
The game wasn’t nearly as close as the score indicated. Nevada led by 31 points with nine minutes left, and Boise State gradually cut into the big lead against Nevada’s second unit. Neither Nick Fazekas or Mo Charlo played the last 10 or so minutes.
“I was extremely pleased,” Fox said. “We did well in the three areas that we stress – rebounding, defense and offensive execution. The first half I was extremely pleased with the progress of our team.
“We made it a point to defend the 3-point line. They still had seven I guess. I don’t think they shot extremely well. They’re still a great offensive team. We were fortunate to get off to a good start and a big lead, and we were able to sustain it. We were much more aggressive rebounding. That’s something we emphasized.”
It was billed as a revenge game because of Nevada’s loss to the Broncos at last year’s WAC Tournament. Nevada’s coaching staff and players denied it all week, but their intense play at the outset may have belied that.
“We came out with a lot of intensity and fire,” said Fazekas, who went 9 for 9 from the field en route to a 20-point effort. “We defended Boise State to the best of our ability.
“I don’t think so (about revenge). Last year was last year. I don’t think any of us took it as a revenge game. It might have been in our minds. I don’t know that guys put forth their best effort because of revenge. We just came out and executed well.”
Revenge or not, the Pack impressed the heck out of Boise State coach Greg Graham.
“I’m sure they remembered last year,” Graham said. “It’s a good team. They played hard.
“They came out ready to throw a knockout punch, and they did. They took it right at us and we didn’t respond.”
Boise led twice in the first half – 3-2 and 5-4. After that it was all Nevada. The Pack outrebounded Boise State 29-11 and shot 54.5 from the floor en route to a 50-30 halftime lead. The 50 first-half points was a season-best for the Pack.
And, it was vintage Nevada basketball, reminiscent at times of the Sweet 16 team of two years ago. The Pack clawed for offensive rebounds, got inside for easy baskets, defended hard on the perimeter and ran the floor with abandon.
That was maybe stretching it a bit far, according to Fazekas.
“I don’t know if I’d say that,” Fazekas said. “That’s a tough team to resemble. We played well.”
Fazekas, who led Nevada with 16 first-half points on 7 for 7 from the floor and two free throws, scored 10 early points to spark an 18-2 run, enabling Nevada to take a 22-7 lead with 12:37 remaining.
After a free throw by Tyler Tiedeman, Nevada reeled off 12 of the next 15 points for a 34-10 lead. Mo Charlo (11 points, 11 rebounds) sparked the surge with a basket and free throw, and he threw an alley-oop pass to Fazekas who put down a rim-shaking dunk. Kyle Shiloh (17 points) added a layup and two free throws in that span.
Boise State made a brief run late in the first half, cutting the lead to 44-30, but a putback by Charlo, a bucket by Fazekas and a runner in the lane by Ramon Sessions interrupted the Broncos’ comeback attempt.
“We were on a pace to score 100 and that’s not something that happens very often,” Fox said. “There were a couple of minutes …they’re going to make play and we answered.”
“We took a couple of (bad) shots,” Graham said. “We let it get away from us.”
The second half wasn’t much different.
A 10-3 surge, including two more buckets by Fazekas, stretched the lead to 27, 60-33, with 17:13 left. After a 3-pointer by Kenny Wilson and a bank shot by Tez Banks, Nevada put together a 12-3 run for a 72-41 advantage with 9:07 remaining.
Marcelus Kemp started the barrage with a baseline jump shot, Charlo threw down a monster slam and Sessions scored on a putback after a grabbing a loose ball to make it 66-38. After a trey by Seth Robinson, Shiloh, Chad Bell and Lyndale Burleson knocked down two free throws apiece.
Fazekas and Charlo never returned to the game, and BSU finished the game with a 23-9 run. Tyler Tiedeman played well in garbage time, scoring 15 of his game-high 24 points in that span.
Obviously Fox didn’t like the way his team finished, but he didn’t find much fault with the first 30 minutes.
“A coach looks for perfection,” Fox said. “That’s our goal. Marcelus was 1 for 7 in the first half. We can play better than that. Hopefully we can be more consistent.”
Still, as Fazekas pointed out, the Pack played a better game than it did against Idaho two nights ago.
“We played well,” Fazekas said. “It was a good victory. It’s a lot better than we’ve played a few games in the past.”