Nevada travels to face UNLV | NevadaAppeal.com

Nevada travels to face UNLV

LAS VEGAS – Nevada puts two different streaks on the line tonight when it visits arch-rival UNLV (2-0).

Tip-off is 7:30 p.m. at Thomas & Mack Center. Prior to the game, UNLV will dedicate the court to former coach Jerry Tarkanian.

The Pack (2-0) have won 11 straight road games dating back to their 10 straight wins last year and Wednesday’s win at Vermont. Also, Nevada has won the last two games against its rival, 84-78 last season in Reno and 74-62 two years ago at UNLV.

“It’s a real big night,” UNLV coach Lon Kruger said. “They are dedicating the court to “Tark” and we have a quality team coming in. It’s a good night for basketball.”

This is a better UNLV team, according to Nevada coach Mark Fox. UNLV pounded Long Beach State in its home opener and then edged Hawai’i 67-61 earlier this week.

“They are a much better team in my opinion,” Fox said. “They’re a better shooting team. They have two premier inside players (Louis Amundson and Dustin Villepigue).

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“They seem to be playing much tougher, and they have had a year to adjust to the new system.”

Kruger likes the way his team has performed thus far. It’s shown a lot of teamwork.

“We’re another year older,” Kruger said. “The leadership has been outstanding. It’s given us a basis to work from.

“I think so, as far as sharing the basketball is concerned. They are looking for the team result; for each other out there. Guys like Louis, Dustin, Ricky Morgan and Michael Umeh are showing great leadership.”

Kruger has been especially impressed with Amundson, who is averaging 17 points and 14 rebounds per game. He scored 22 points and 21 in wins over Long Beach State and Hawai’i, which was coming off an upset win over Michigan State last week in Honolulu.

“He worked hard in the off-season,” Kruger said. “He just wants to lace it up and play.”

Umeh is averaging 15 a game, Morgan is at 12.5 and Villepigue is averaging 8.5 points and 7.5 rebounds. Jason Petrimoulx, who is coming off a 1 for 7 outing against Hawai’i, is averaging 7 a game. Newcomer Jo’Van Adams is averaging 8 a game.

The Rebels will face a tired team tonight. The Pack, which are on the second leg of a four-game road swing, flew back from Vermont on Thanksgiving, and the group was delayed in San Francisco for three hours. They didn’t arrive in Reno until 8 p.m.

Besides being tired, the Pack aren’t sure about the status of 6-11 forward Nick Fazekas and 6-3 point guard Ramon Sessions. Both suffered from food poisoning that affected them during the Vermont win. Fazekas managed to contribute 20 points in 27 minutes. Sessions, who has been bothered by a hip injury, scored one bucket in 12 minutes.

“They came to life a little bit, but they weren’t feeling great this morning,” Fox said after Nevada worked out Friday night. “It will be a game-time decision, but I’m assuming they’ll both play (start). Nick only had the energy to play one (end) of the floor and I told him to spend it at one end.”

Because Sessions and Fazekas weren’t at full strength, Fox said it was hard to judge any improvement the Pack might have made from their opener against Sacramento State.

“The rotation was different, but the kids adjusted pretty well,” Fox said. “I liked the guys’ approach when we had some adversity.

“We’ve been solid offensively both games. Defensively, we were able to sustain it longer against Vermont; 27 minutes as opposed to 20. It wasn’t great, though.”

The Pack got a solid game from sophomore Marcelus Kemp, who scored a career-high 24 points. Kemp, who scored from a variety of spots on the court, knocked down 8 of 12 from the floor and was 7 for 8 from the line.

“He played well,” Fox said. “He hit a lot of jump shots; more jumps shots than anything else.”

Mo Charlo had perhaps his most complete game at Nevada, scoring 13 points and pulling down a career-high 14 rebounds. He also blocked a shot and dished out three assists in his 33-minute stint. He is averaging 12 points and 10 rebounds a game.

Notes: UNLV has won its last eight nonconference home games … The Rebels are shooting 49 percent from the floor and outrebounding their opponents by seven rebounds per game … Tarkanian, who took UNLV to four Final Fours, guided the Rebels to the 1990 title with a 103-73 win over Duke. He was 729-201 lifetime. Besides UNLV, he also coached at Long Beach State and Fresno State.