Nevada’s opponents have been focusing on stopping Nick Fazekas in the paint. Now, open shooters from beyond the arc are starting to grab their attention.
With Fazekas’ inside play opening up the perimeter for some sharp shooting, the 21st-ranked Wolf Pack (4-0) open a three-game road swing Saturday night against Santa Clara (2-1).
Fazekas had 29 points and 14 rebounds for his fourth double-double in as many games this season, and Marcelus Kemp added 23 points to lead Nevada to an 83-64 win over UC Irvine on Tuesday night.
With defenses concentrating on the 6-foot-11 Fazekas inside, players like Kemp and Kyle Shiloh have taken advantage with long-range jumpers.
The Wolf Pack shot 11-of-19 on 3-pointers Tuesday, including four by Shiloh, three by Fazekas and two by Kemp. Nevada has made 48.6 percent (36-of-74) of its shots from beyond the arc this season.
“We have a lot of guys who can shoot the ball,” coach Mark Fox said. “We made a conscious effort to recruit shooting and work on shooting and we’ve got guys that are taking advantage of their opportunities right now.”
Fazekas, one of 21 players in the nation to average double digits in scoring and rebounding last season, is averaging 24.3 points and 14.8 rebounds per game.
“He scores like 30 points a game,” Shiloh said of Fazekas. “He has five guys around him at all times.”
Kemp has made 60.0 percent (15-for-25) of his three-point attempts this season, and is second on the team with 21.0 points per game.
“When you’ve got Shiloh and Marcelus and Ramon (Sessions) shooting the ball well, it can only help me,” Fazekas said. “Definitely with these guys playing well, that’s what we need.”
Fazekas has also shot well from long range, making 6 of 9 attempts. He said his own success on 3-pointers is due to Nevada’s consistent ball movement.
“I’ve been trying to take better looks, that’s what it is,” he said. “Definitely not trying to force anything. We’re just staying in the system like coach has us doing.”
The Wolf Pack have also been strong on defense, holding opponents to 59.0 points per game and 37.1 percent shooting.
Santa Clara, meanwhile, is coming off its worst game on offense this season, a 73-48 road loss to California on Monday.
The Broncos shot just 2-for-18 from 3-point range and 33.3 percent overall for the game.
“I believe that our team will get better, but we have to start making some more shots,” said Santa Clara coach Dick Davey, whose team scored 83 points in each of its first two games.
The Broncos, picked to finish sixth in the West Coast Conference, were coming off a 83-72 win over Utah.
Sean Denison leads Santa Clara with 16.0 points per game and is shooting 62.2 percent for the season.
“I am feeling pretty good right now,” he said. “I worked a lot on my moves around the basket this summer and I feel confident with my shot. Hopefully, I can keep playing well and doing my job to help the team win some games.”
The Broncos lead 34-24 in the all-time series with the Wolf Pack.