Nevada and Creighton meet in South Regional first round
New Orleans, LA (Sports Network) – The seventh-seeded Nevada Wolf Pack are
ready to make their fourth straight NCAA Tournament appearance today, as they
tangle with the 10th-seeded Creighton Bluejays in the first round of the South
Region. Whichever team wins this game will earn the right to face either
second-seeded Memphis or 15th-seeded North Texas in the second round on Sunday.
The Wolf Pack tied a school record for wins (28) in a season and that helped
them earn an at-large bid after losing out in the West Coast Conference
Tournament. Despite that loss, Nevada still had a strong regular season
campaign, as it won its fourth consecutive WAC title with a 14-2 finish. This
is the team’s sixth all-time appearance in the NCAA Tournament, where it has
gone 3-5. Last season, the Wolf Pack were upset in the first round by Montana,
while in 2005 they advanced to the second round.
As for Creighton, it knocked off top-seeded and nationally-ranked Southern
Illinois in the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament championship game to earn
an automatic invite to the Big Dance. The Bluejays are making their 16th NCAA
Tournament appearance and their seventh in the last nine years. The team is
9-16 all-time in this event, including 6-9 in first round play.
With regard to the all-time series, Creighton and Nevada have split six
previous meetings on the hardwood. The Wolf Pack however, have won the last
three encounters, including a 61-58 victory in the most recent meeting in 1995.
The Bluejays have fared well in their attempt to slow down opposing clubs, as
they are allowing their foes to score just 60.4 ppg and shoot only 41.5 percent
from the floor. Offensively, Creighton is turning in 67.2 ppg, in addition to
converting 75.5 percent of its free-throw attempts. Nate Funk is the leader of
this team and he leads the Bluejays in scoring (17.6 ppg), assists (3.0 apg)
and steals (39). Anthony Tolliver has enjoyed a solid campaign as well, as he
contributes 13.4 ppg and a team-high 6.7 rpg. Nick Porter adds 10.6 ppg and 5.5
rpg to this balanced attack, while Dane Watts puts forth 10.1 ppg and 6.3 rpg.
Nevada is one of the top all-around shooting teams in the tournament, as it is
hitting on 48.9 percent of its attempts from the field, 41.4 percent from long
range and 75.1 percent at the foul line. All the solid shooting has helped the
team to average a hardy 77.9 ppg. Nick Fazekas, a three time WAC Player of the
Year recipient, is one of the premier players in the nation, and the 6-11
forward is averaging an impressive double-double with 20.5 ppg and 11.2 rpg. He
has a nation-best 20 double-doubles to his credit and he is certainly the main
reason why the Wolf Pack are outrebounding their opponents by 6.7 rpg on the
season. Marcelus Kemp has been overshadowed by Fazekas, but he has also enjoyed
a highly successful campaign. Kemp is turning in 18.3 ppg and 4.3 rpg, in
addition to shooting 41.5 percent from behind the arc. Ramon Sessions chips in
with 12.5 ppg and he has been responsible for running the offense with a team-
high 4.7 apg to his credit.