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Nevada, Utah State ready for showdown

DARRELL MOODY
Appeal Sports Writer

RENO – For the second time in three years, Nevada finds itself in the Western Athletic Conference championship game.

Nevada edged New Mexico State 70-59 Friday night, it’s third straight win over the Aggies this season. The win earned Nevada a date with Utah State tonight at 6.

“Utah State is a terrific team,” Nevada coach Mark Fox said. “They have a terrific defense and they are a terrific 3-point shooting team. There’s a reason why they have so many wins.”

Nevada split its two games with Utah State. Nevada lost 59-53 in Reno on Big Monday, and put a 75-57 pasting on the Aggies in Logan.

“Nevada speaks for itself,” Utah State coach Stew Morrill said. “We played well the last time here. We’ve played well in that building.”

Nevada played one of its best defensive games in the second meeting, holding Nate Harris to nine points on 3-for-12 shooting.

FAZEKAS TIME

The people at CBSSportsLine.com seem to have a love affair with the Nevada basketball program.

Greg Doyel has moved Nevada to a No. 4 seed in his bracket prediction. He’s the same guy that had Nevada in the Top 10 in the preseason.

The Web-site ranked the top 50 players in the country considered to have a total package for their team.

Duke’s Sheldon Williams was No. 1, and Gonzaga’s Adam Morrison was No. 4. Nevada’s Nick Fazekas was No. 5 and Louisiana Tech’s Paul Millsap was No. 10.

Fazekas and Millsap are the only players listed from the WAC.

EJECTION HURTS AGGIES

David Fisher was ejected midway through the second half for allegedly throwing a punch at Fazekas. The ejection carries a one-game suspension.

The play happened with 10:49 left after Marcelus Kemp had hit two free throws to snap a 44-all tied. Billy Kennedy made the call.

“He just ran into me,” Fazekas said.

Said referee Rick Batsell, “the calling referee saw the ‘Red’ (Fisher) throw a punch and he deemed it fighting.”

Nevada outscored NMSU 24-15 the rest of the way.

FOX RUMORS

Nevada coach Mark Fox was an assistant coach at Kansas State, and now KSU is in need of a head coach.

“We want to find a coach to take us to the NCAAs,” KSU athletic director Tim Weiser was quoted in The Manhattan Mercury.

Several coaches in the Missouri Valley Conference were mentioned for the opening along with UNLV’s Lon Kruger, Fox and Kansas assistant Tim Jankovich were mentioned.

The newspaper started a poll, and Jankovich was the early leader with 40 percent of the vote. Fox was second with 20 percent when the Appeal went to press.

GOOD CROWDS

A crowd of around 13,000 watched the men’s quarterfinals on Wednesday, including around 7,000 for the evening session which included the Nevada-Idaho game.

The attendance announced for Friday’s women session was 4,908, though there was probably only 2,500 in the building.

A total of 8, 216 attended the evening session.

Tickets for the women’s championship game (noon) are $10. Tickets for the men’s title game at 6 p.m. are $28.

FAZEKAS HONORED

Nick Fazekas was one of 21 players named to collegeinsider.com’s All-American team.