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Senior Night for Nevada

DARRELL MOODY
Appeal Sports Writer

RENO – It seemed like only yesterday when Nick Fazekas and Kyle Shiloh showed up on the University of Nevada campus for the first time, and now they are saying good-bye.

Fazekas and Shiloh, who have been a part of a school-record 103 wins, and two-year player Denis Ikovlev will be honored at Senior Night prior to Saturday’s regular-season finale against New Mexico State at Lawlor Events Center.

Tip-off is set for 7:05 p.m. (ESPN2), and fans are urged to arrive early because the Senior Night festivities are scheduled to start at 6:50 p.m. The game has been sold out for about a month.

Nevada coach Mark Fox said Senior Night is always an emotional time for him and the team. He hesitated for quite a while when asked what the departing seniors meant to the program and him as a coach.

“All three came in as young men and are leaving as men,” Fox said. “They have been through a lot of experiences together. They have been terrific people, and all three will leave with degrees. They epitomize what the experience is about.

“I have a 6-year-old son (Parker). If he grows up like any of the three I’ll be a proud father. Certainly this is one the kids will remember.”

When you think of Nevada basketball, Fazekas is probably the first name that comes to mind. He has helped make Nevada a major player on the national landscape.

The 6-11 forward, who bypassed the NBA to come back for his senior season, is the school’s all-time leading scorer (2.375), blocked shots leader (184), free throw leader (518 made), field goals (871) and second in rebounding (1,207). He is revered by the Lawlor Faithful.

“I’m definitely looking forward to it,” Fazekas said. “I can guarantee my mom will be crying. I won’t let it get to me too much. It will be special.

“Oh definitely. I couldn’t have made a better choice. I was able to come back and have the special season I’ve had so far.”

And, he’s on the verge of being named the WAC Player of the Year for the third straight year. The announcement will be made Sunday. Keith Van Horn is the only other WAC player to win three WAC Player of the Year awards.

Shiloh earned the fans’ respect with his defensive play, and he’s turned into a double-digit scorer the past two years. He’s hit some big shots to ignite some big scoring surges this year.

“I’ve definitely matured on and off the court,” Shiloh said. “Maturing off the court certainly has been one of the keys.”

Shiloh said that former coach Trent Johnson helped a little in that area, but he credits Fox with more of his maturation.

Shiloh said that the time has flown by in Reno, but he said his four years at Garces Memorial in Bakersfield were the same way. In both places, he has been a winner.

“I’m definitely proud of what we accomplished,” Shiloh said. “Hopefully we’ll continue that (in the next couple of weeks).”

Neither Fazekas or Shiloh were able to pinpoint one memorable moment in their careers.

“I’ll have to think about that,” Shiloh said. “There were a lot of big games that we won.”

“We’ve had a lot of great wins,” Fazekas said. “There definitely have been some games bigger than others.”

Fazekas hopes he plays in bigger games in the next few weeks, and comes away with some wins in the process.

Ikovlev has been the surprise story of the season for the ninth-ranked Wolf Pack. Fox has called him the most improved player on the squad.

A year after averaging only 7.8 minutes per game in 23 appearances at a wing position and averaging 1.8 points per game, Ikovlev has started all 29 games at one of the two forward spots. He is averaging 6.9 points and 3.9 rebounds per game.

“It (his time at Nevada) has gone by quick because it’s only been two years,” Ikovlev said. “It’s been such a great two years, especially this year.

“Getting to start every game … it feels like I’m a part of this team a little more than I was last year.”

Like Fazekas and Shiloh, Ikovlev had trouble pinpointing his most memorable moment in a Nevada uniform.

“I’ll have to think about that,” he said. “One game that comes to mind is Gonzaga and the other would be Boise State (last week) when I knew we had won the title.”

Ikovlev hit a big 3-pointer to spark Nevada to its win over the Zags, and he nailed four 3-pointers in last week’s title-clinching victory over Boise State and finished with 14 points.

“My parents videotaped it (the Gonzaga game), and they re-run it every now and then,” Ikovlev said.

Simply put, the last four seasons have been one big highlight film for Northern Nevada basketball fans.