Nevada set to host Idaho tonight
Appeal Sports Writer
RENO – During the course of a college basketball season, even the best of teams will go through some peaks and valleys, and Nevada finds itself in a little bit of a valley these days.
“We’re not playing our best basketball obviously,” Nevada guard Kyle Shiloh said as he prepared for tonight’s game against Idaho (7:05 p.m.) at Lawlor Events Center. “Hopefully we’ll start peaking by the end of conference.
“It’s having focus on what we want to accomplish as a team. Coach Fox tells us the only way to get better is to fight through it. I had the same thing happen in high school. You get the same feelings, just at a different level.”
Shiloh, known for his hard-nosed defense, is expected to play a big role in tonight’s game. The 6-3 junior likely will have the task of containing IU’s Tanoris Shepard, who is is scoring 14.5 per game.
“Kyle usually guards the other team’s best offensive (backcourt) threat,” Nevada coach Mark Fox said. “If logic holds … he’s very good defensively. He’s been solid in that area all year.
“Shepard is a good guard. He’s multi-dimensional. He’s an excellent 3-point shooter, gets to the foul line a lot and leads the team in assists. When a guy averages 3 or 4 assists a game, shoots the 3 and gets to the line, he’s a pretty complete player. He’s as solid of a guard as we’ll see all season.”
Shepard has been the Vandals’ main offensive threat through the first 12 games. He is the only double-figure scorer on the squad, as points have been tough to come by for the Vandals.
“They (points) are tough to come by,” IU coach Leonard Perry said. “We have a ways to go in terms of execution. There is a lot of room for improvement. Knowing how to read the defense and how to counter when the first set won’t work.
“We are not necessarily trying to slow it down. We’re looking for the best shot we can get. If that means it comes late, we’ll hold the ball and get the best shot. If it comes early, we’ll take the shot.”
In this case, numbers don’t mean a lot. Nevada had a decided advantage in the numbers. However, everybody is gunning for Nevada, and Fox, better than anybody, knows the defending champs have a big target on their backs. For that reason, he doesn’t expect this to be a cakewalk.
“Obviously they’re new to the league,” Fox said. “I know Leonard very well. We were assistants in the same conference (Big 12). He’s an excellent coach. I expect a physical game, and we’ll have to fight hard to earn a victory.”
Perry, meanwhile, said that his team has a huge task ahead of it, and it doesn’t matter whether Nevada starts its big lineup or goes small like it did against San Jose State.
“What’s there to say,” Perry said. “They are a top 25 team playing with a guy we think is an NBA player in Nick Fazekas (21.7, 8.9). They are road tested. They are tested at home. They have won the all with the exception of a couple. Mark Fox is a good coach. They know how to execute offensively. They present problems at both ends of the floor.
“A migrane headache is a migrane headache. It doesn’t matter what lineup they use this week. This week I’ll be looking for some extra-strength Tylenol. A smaller lineup doesn’t make things any easier; doesn’t make a difference.”
Perry also is impressed with Nevada’s guards, particularly Marcelus Kemp, whom he compared favorably with ex-Pack star Kirk Snyder.
“I think (Ramon) Sessions is getting better every game. (Kyle) Shiloh is a heckuva player. (Lyndale) Burleson is a hard-playing guy. They understand how to play together.
“Kemp makes a huge difference. He is so big and so strong. He can create his own shot. He’s comparable to Snyder. He is instant offense. He’s so explosive.”
Kemp leads the Pack in 3-point shooting with a 36.5 mark from beyond the arc. Mo Charlo leads the starters with a 41.2 mark.
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“What’s to say,” Idaho coach Leonard Perry said. “They’re a top 25 team with a guy that will be in the NBA in Nick Fazekas. he has a great supporting cast