Nevada romps past Idaho
Appeal Sports Writer
RENO – Kyle Shiloh left the court with 4:33 left to play to a loud ovation from the Nevada basketball fans.
It was well deserved.
Shiloh, a junior guard, drained a career-best six 3-pointers and finished with a career-high 20 points to lead Nevada to a 70-44 victory over Idaho in a WAC game before a crowd of 7,557 Thursday night at Lawlor Events Center.
Nevada improved to 12-3 overall and 2-1 in conference entering Saturday’s home game against Boise State (1-2, 8-6). Idaho dropped to 3-10 and 0-3.
Shiloh, who came into the game shooting 37.5 overall and 33 percent from beyond the arc, is as soft-spoken and modest as one can get, and he held to form at the post-game news conference.
“I guess it was just one of those games where everything goes in,” he said after his 7 for 8 effort from the field. “Not since high school; my senior year in high school (had a game like this).”
Shiloh spent day after day during the summer working on his jump shot. A year ago, his alignment would either be off left or right, and he tended to shoot the ball coming down instead of at the apex. He still shoots the ball lower than he’d like, but his mechanics are better.
Nobody was happier to see Shiloh enjoy a big night offensively than Nevada coach Mark Fox.
“Kyle is and has been an integral part of our success,” Fox said. “Look back a couple of years ago, and he played more than (Todd) Okeson did when we beat Kansas.
“He was here all summer working on his shooting, and he was able to reap the benefits. He shoots the ball well. He just doesn’t shoot as many.”
Shiloh’s onslaught came in just 19 minutes, and was certainly something Idaho coach Leonard Perry didn’t expect.
“I think they’re a good team,” Perry said. “They had guys step up. Shiloh stepped up and made some big 3s.”
Three of those came in the first half when Nevada, which went a season-best 10 for 24 from 3-point range, broke open a tight 9-6 game with a 13-0 run, eight by Shiloh, to take a 22-6 lead with 6:56 remaining.
Nick Fazekas, who led the Pack with 12 first-half points and 15 overall, started the surge with a 3-pointer from the top of the key. After a layup by Demarshay Johnson, Shiloh, who was 4 for 4 from the floor in the first 20 minutes, knocked down back-to-back 3-pointers and then a jump shot to complete the barrage.
The Vandals, who opened 2 for 17 from the field and shot just 28 percent for the first 20 minutes, trimmed the lead to 24-14 with 4:56 left, but another 3-pointer by Shiloh and a putback by Chad Bell stretched the lead back to 15, 29-14. Idaho cut the deficit to 13 at the half, 33-20.
Nevada opened the second half with seven straight points, extending its lead to 40-20 with 16:55 left. Ramon Sessions and Bell scored on layups, and Shiloh drilled another 3-pointer.
Idaho trimmed the lead to 15 two different times in the next four minutes, but a 14-5 run keyed by 3-pointers from Marcelus Kemp, Shiloh (2) and Fazekas made it 61-37 with 5:42 left in the contest.
In the past, Nevada hasn’t played well with a double-digit lead, allowing teams to get back into games. That didn’t happen tonight, and the Pack enjoyed a huge victory, their second biggest of the year.
“It feels good,” Fazekas said. “We need to keep building off this. Coach Fox has talked to us about burying teams. We didn’t let Idaho stick around. A few times we’ve played down to the competition.”
“I think we’ve played poorly when we’ve gotten double-digit leads,” Fox said. “We haven’t played well with a lead. We’ve been there before. We went from 13, 15 to 20, and we got them (second group) to extend it.”
Not surprisingly, Idaho stayed in a 2-3 zone the entire game. Perry felt it might be a better fit against Nevada’s athleticism and possibly negate the Pack’s height advantage.
“We’re outmanned,” Perry said. “We’re not able to guard man-to-man like I’d like to do. It is what it is. They’re an excellent free-throw shooting team. I didn’t want them to be shooting (bonus) with 11 or 12 minutes to go in the first half.”
With the Vandals in the zone, Nevada only got to the line five times the entire game, none in the first half which is extremely rare.
“We tied a school record for a half,” Fox said. “We took what the defense gave us.”
Fox was thrilled with the defensive effort. Idaho shot 29.6 from the floor, one of its worst of the season. Tanoris Shepard finished with 15, but only went 6 for 17. The rest of the team went 10 for 37.
“No knock to Nevada, but we had some open looks,” Perry said. Sure Idaho missed some easy shots, but the Pack defended well on others.
Fox was first to admit the Pack were not perfect, but he was pleased with the overall performance, and he believes two straight days of practice was beneficial.
“We weren’t perfect,” Fox said. “We got outrebounded (37-36).
“It always helps when you have two practices back-to-back,” Fox said. “It really helps. When you only practice once a week it’s tough to make improvements.”
In the end it was a kid that had ice cream for breakfast that had the biggest impact on the game.