Battle in Seattle pits Nevada against Gonzaga
Seattle, WA (Sports Network) – In one of the better matchups of the
weekend, the 24th-ranked Nevada Wolf Pack will travel to the Pacific
Northwest to take on the Gonzaga Bulldogs in the Battle in Seattle from Key
The Wolf Pack have jumped out to another strong start this season, winning
11 of their first 12 games. The lone loss of the season came against UNLV on
December 9th and the team has strung together four straight wins since
then. Most recently, the Wolf Pack made light work of Maine in Reno on
Thursday, 89-69. Nevada has won all five games it has played outside of Reno
this season and the team has won its last nine regular-season road games
dating back to last year.
Mark Few’s Bulldogs started their season strong as well, but the team has
hit a bit of a wall in the schedule of late, dropping three of the last
four games including two straight. The team was last in action on December
21st in New York City against Duke and fell to the Blue Devils, 61-54.
Gonzaga holds a 4-3 edge in the all-time series with Nevada, but the Wolf Pack
won the last meeting, 91-72 in the 2004 NCAA Tournament. That game was also
played in Key Arena and earned Nevada its first-ever trip to the Sweet 16.
Nevada has gotten the job done at both ends of the court this season,
averaging 76.1 ppg, while allowing just 63.3. The team is shooting a healthy
.493 from the floor, which includes a .428 mark from long range. In addition,
the Wolf Pack hold a +8.6 rebounding margin. This is a team with a true
superstar on the floor in All-American Nick Fazekas. The 6-11 senior could
have come out early a year ago, but returned to Reno and is putting up
ridiculous numbers this year. Fazekas is shooting a scorching .581 from the
floor thus far and is averaging a huge double-double of 20.7 points and 12.7
rebounds per game. Guard Marcelus Kemp also has the ability to fill up the
basket, pouring in 17.7 ppg, while draining almost 48 percent of his three-
point attempts (32-of-67). Fellow guard Ramon Sessions gives the team a third
scoring option at 12.6 ppg, while leading the way in assists (57). In the rout
of Maine this week, Kemp led the offensive charge with 20 points. Fazekas was
once again masterful in the frontcourt, hitting 8-of-13 shots from the floor
and finishing with 18 points and 13 rebounds in just 23 minutes of work.
Gonzaga has some huge wins on the year, including victories over North
Carolina, Texas and Washington, but the brutal schedule could finally be
catching up to the team. In the loss to Duke last week, the Bulldogs shot just
.386 from the floor in the game, including a mere .143 from behind the arc.
Jeremy Pargo did his best to lead the team to victory, posting a near double-
double with 21 points and nine rebounds. However, only Josh Heytvelt joined
him in double figures, with 10 points. Leading scorer Derek Raivio struggled
against Duke, taking just four shots in 38 minutes of work and finishing with
a meager four points. Raivio has been much more explosive on the season,
pacing the Bulldogs with 19.0 ppg. The veteran sniper is shooting .476 from
the floor and .471 from behind the arc (40-of-85). Heytvelt has been a perfect
complement in the frontcourt, adding 16.3 ppg, while leading the team in
rebounding (7.5 rpg). Pargo is the team’s top distributor (4.1 apg), but is
also capable of scoring in bunches, shooting .519 from the floor and averaging
nearly 12 points per game (11.8). In all, Gonzaga is netting a hardy 79.5 ppg.
The team is shooting nearly 50 percent from the floor (.491) and just over 40
percent from behind the arc (.408).