Nevada to host Maine | NevadaAppeal.com

Nevada to host Maine

RENO – Nevada coach Mark Fox told the media, and no doubt told his players not to take Maine lightly.

The 10-1 and 18th-ranked Pack, fresh off a narrow 73-71 road win over Akron in a return of last year’s BracketBuster game, host the Black Bears, 5-6, tonight at 5:30 at Lawlor Events Center.

The game is starting 90 minutes early because it’s the first game of a double-header. Nevada’s women’s team will play Portland State 30 minutes after the conclusion of the men’s game.

“They have played a difficult schedule,” Fox said, referring to Maine’s games against Providence, Robert Morris, Penn State and Detroit. “They have a couple of really good shooters (Jon Sheets and Kevin Reed) and a transfer (6-9 320-pound Brian Andre) that just became eligible.

“Each team has its own unique identity. They both shoot well. Their front line is quick, and sometimes we haven’t matched up well with quicker players (on our bigger players) up front.”

Reed is the Black Bears’ all-time leader in 3-point field goals with 262 in 100 games. He sat out last year with an injury. He’s hitting 33 percent from beyond the arc, while Sheets, the team’s point guard, is hitting 34 percent.

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Neither Reed or Sheets were effective in a 75-42 loss at Penn State on Dec. 23. Reed went 2-for-7 from 3-point range and Sheets went 2-for-11. As a team, the Black Bears shot 25 percent from the floor (14-for-56) and 18 percent from beyond the arc (4-for-22).

Maine coach Ted Woodward is hoping that was just a one-time thing.

“We didn’t shoot that well,” Woodward said. “I don’t think we took many bad shots. I give them (Penn State) a lot of credit.

“Against Providence we scored 45 points in a half. It (shooting) has not been a consistent part of our game. I have a lot of belief, a lot of confidence in our players.”

Speaking of 3-pointers, Woodward said he’s yet to run up against a 3-point shooting team like Nevada. The Pack is shooting 43 percent from the field as a team, and the starting line-up of Nick Fazekas, Marcelus Kemp, Ramon Sessions, Kyle Shiloh and Denis Ikovlev are all shooting more than 40 percent from beyond the arc.

“Providence didn’t shoot it as well,” Woodward said. “Five of their top seven guys are in the 40s.

“They (Nevada) are going great. We got our first glimpse of them when they played Vermont a couple of years ago, and I’ve followed them. Obviously they (coaches and players) have done a great job.”

Nick Fazekas (20.9, 12.6) will have a size advantage of several inches over Phillippe Tchekane-Bofia, who is the Bears’ biggest starter at 6-6 and 230 pounds. Underwood has several bigger players coming off the bench, including Andre, 6-10 Olli Ahvenniemi, 6-10 Jordan Cook and 6-10 Christian Cavanaugh. Woodward may opt to change the line-up to get a better match-up inside.

Nevada had a tough trip last week, going to Akron for a single game, and Maine has to go even farther for tonight’s game. As of 11 a.m. Wednesday, the team was still in Las Vegas awaiting its final connection into Reno.

“It’s a long way to go,” Fox said. “The most difficult thing in traveling is keeping hydrated and lack of sleep. We left Akron at 3 a.m. Reno time to come home.”

One thing that may help Nevada throughout the season is that the Pack have played in a lot of close games, both at home and on the road. Five of Nevada’s games, four wins and one loss, have been decided by 10 points or less.

“It’s good to be in situations that you have been in before,” All-American forward Nick Fazekas said about the close games. “It will help us down the road (in January and February).”

Notes: Freshman forward Richie Phillips has a torn tendon, and Fox said that the training staff has been experimenting with a different kind of splint. Fox said that Phillips has essentially been unavailable the last two games … The game will be a homecoming of sort for Sheets, who grew up in Grass Valley which is about 80 or so miles from Reno. Sheets is expected to have plenty of family and friends rooting for him tonight … Nevada has won 14 of its last 15 games at Lawlor Events Center.

• Contact Darrell Moody at dmoody@nevadaappeal.com, or by calling (775) 881-1281

MAINE (5-6) AT NO. 18/24 NEVADA (10-1)

When: Tonight, 5:35 p.m.

Where: Lawlor Events Center

TV: http://www.wactv.com (fee charged)

Radio: ESPN Radio 630 AM, pregame at 5:05 p.m.

Probable starters: MAINE – F Chris Bruff (7.5, 5.4), Phillipe Tcheslane Bofia (9.5, 4.7); G Jon Sheets (11.6, 2.6), Kevin Reed (11.7, 5.6), Junior Bernal (11.3, 3.8). NEVADA – F Nick Fazekas (20.9, 12.6), Denis Ikovlev (5.9, 4.3); G Marcelus Kemp (17.5, 3.9), Ramon Sessions (13.0, 3.8), Kyle Shiloh (8.7, 2.7).

Prediction: Nevada 75, Maine 60