No. 11 Nevada plays host to Northern Iowa
Reno, NV (Sports Network) – They may be leaders in the Western Athletic
Conference standings, but at the moment the 11th-ranked Nevada Wolf Pack have
to turn their attention to the invading Panthers of Northern Iowa for a
BracketBuster contest from the Lawlor Events Center in Reno tonight.
Nevada, an impressive 11-1 in league play thus far, has run off six straight
victories since losing to New Mexico State on the road in January. Most
recently the Pack hosted San Jose State on Valentine’s Day and turned the
Spartans around in a 68-60 decision. At an impressive 23-2 in 2006-07
Nevada has achieved its highest national ranking in program history this week.
As for the Panthers, members of the Missouri Valley Conference, they’ve hit a
major stumbling block since opening the campaign 13-2. On Tuesday night the
team was knocked off by the Creighton Bluejays in a 66-55 final, marking
their fourth straight loss and the seventh in the last eight outings. As a
result, UNI is now just 7-9 in conference play and has only meetings against
Bradley and Illinois State left in the regular season before the MVC
Tournament kicks into gear the first of March.
With respect to the all-time series between these two schools on the hardwood,
the Panthers have taken both of the previous meetings against Nevada, including
a narrow 76-75 overtime decision back in 1990 in Cedar Falls.
If the Panthers thought they had it rough in the first half when they shot 37.9
percent from the field against Creighton, they certainly weren’t ready to make
a mere eight field goals after the break in the 11-point road loss. Brooks
McKowen was responsible for a team-high 15 points, but he also accounted for
seven of the team’s 12 turnovers, while Grant Stout chipped in 13 points and
eight boards in the losing effort as well. With the same five players having
started each and every game this season for the Panthers, at least they can say
that they are durable. Playing a tight defense is also a trademark of the
squad, with them allowing just 62.3 ppg. However, posting a mere 65.9 ppg these
days doesn’t leave much room for error for the Panthers, who are led by Eric
Coleman and his 13.1 ppg and 9.2 rpg. Stout checks in with 12.3 ppg and 9.1 rpg
as well, while McKowen (11.0 ppg) is the catalyst at the offensive end of the
floor with his 159 assists.
A bit sluggish in their attack, the Wolf Pack actually trailed at the break
against San Jose State earlier this week before pulling out the eight-point win
at home. As always Nick Fazekas was a major contributor for Nevada as the two-
time WAC Player of the Year produced 20 points and 10 rebounds, followed by
Kyle Shiloh with 16 points and four boards. Ramon Sessions chipped in 11
points, six rebounds and five assists, followed by Marcelus Kemp who posted
just 10 points as he focused on his eight boards and team-high six dishes.
Second in the conference in scoring with 77 ppg, the Wolf Pack owe quite a bit
to Fazekas and his 20.7 ppg, although in the WAC rankings Kemp is right behind
him in third place with his 17.9 ppg. With 11.6 rpg Fazekas has dipped down to
third in the nation as of Friday, but that still leaves the program with an
advantage of more than seven rebounds per game against the opponents. Perhaps
the most impressive part of the Nevada attack these days is that the Pack is
hitting on 40.9 percent from three-point range, which is first in the
conference and 10th in the country.