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Tough turnaround for Nevada

DARRELL MOODY
Appeal Sports Writer

SAN JOSE, Calif. – The turnaround isn’t an easy one for the Nevada basketball squad.

After dropping a four-point overtime thriller to in Hawai’i Thursday night, the Wolf Pack (10-3, 0-1) had little time to prepare and fly back to the mainland for today’s (3 p.m. tip-off) game against the San Jose Spartans (4-10, 0-1) at The Event Center.

And, the Pack had to deal with airplane problems in Honolulu. The 20-person Nevada contingent was supposed to leave at 8 a.m., but that flight was cancelled because of mechanical issues. Rhonda Lundin, Nevada’s associate sports information director, said half of the group was able to get on a 9:30 a.m. flight, but the other half didn’t leave until 2 p.m.

It’s the second straight year Nevada has been in this predicament with the Thursday-Saturday afternoon turnaround, but Nevada coach Mark Fox passed it off like it was no big deal.

“It’s the schedule we have,” Fox said. “We have to deal with it.”

Nevada also is having to deal with a two-game losing streak for the first time this year and two straight road losses after 14 straight road victories.

“I hope they rebound like competitors,” Fox said. “If history means anything, I think they will.”

Fox had only last night to prepare for the Spartans, who enter the game on a four-game losing streak after dropping their WAC opener to Utah State, 67-56.

George Nessman, the Spartans’ first-year head coach, said his team is slowly coming along. His main focus is to get improvement day by day and try to play good basketball by the time the WAC Tournament rolls around in early March.

“We don’t have the manpower to go head-to-head with the Utah States of the world,” Nessman said. “I told the team that if we keep pushing and staying in the games that good things will happen. We want to be the best team we can be by March.

“We’ve lost a lot of close games, and we have some injuries and illness. I believe we’re in a different place than Nevada is. We’re concerned about ourselves and how we’re playing.”

Redshirt junior Demetrius Brown averages around 15 a game for the Spartans and swingman Alex Elam, who hurt Nevada last year with 16 points, including four 3-pointers. They are the only two players averaging double digits. Four other players average between 6 and 7.8 per game.

Nessman has been pleased with the inside play of Menelik Barbary, a 6-9 230-pound center. Barbary had 13 points, six blocks and 11 rebounds in the loss to Utah State.

“That’s his third or fourth double-double,” Nessman said. “He’s been splitting time with Matt (Misko). Matt had been starting and we were bringing Menelik off the bench. We’ve started Menelik the last couple of games. He’s wide and athletic.”

Nessman said he’s seen some tape of Nevada, and is impressed with the Wolf Pack.

“Nevada will be fine,” Nessman said. “What really impresses me is their length and defense. When they want to defend, they can shut people down. (Marcelus) Kemp has added a nice piece.

“Fazekas can dominate a game. We’ll mix up our defense, double him when we can and have guys force him away from places he likes to shoot. He’s capable of scoring 45 points on you.”

Fazekas is coming off a career-high 37 points and 15 rebounds in the loss to Hawai’i. He went 11 for 25 from the field and 12 of 13 from the line in his 39-minute stint.

Darrell Moody can be reached at dmoody@nevadaappeal.com or by calling (775) 881-1281