Nevada needed all the points center Nick Fazekas could muster this weekend to avoid its first road loss of the season. Now, the 24th-ranked Wolf Pack hopes another productive effort from him can lead to their fourth straight win overall and third in a row at home.
Fazekas and Nevada return home to meet Maine on Thursday at the Lawlor Events Center.
Fazekas turned in his second consecutive double-double and ninth of the season—tied for the most in the nation—by contributing a team-high 24 points and 11 rebounds for Nevada (10-1) in its 73-71 win at Akron last Friday.
The senior, who is averaging 20.9 points per game, leads all Division I-A players in rebounding with 12.6 per contest. His effort last Friday came on a sprained ankle.
“He had a little sprain, but got it retaped and came back out and helped us finish,” Nevada coach Mark Fox said. “We needed him. We had our hands full.”
With Fazekas’ help, the Wolf Pack narrowly escaped their second upset loss of the season to an unranked team when Akron missed a potential game-tying shot with 2.6 seconds left. Nevada, which has not faced a ranked opponent this season, fell 58-49 to UNLV at home on Dec. 9.
Junior guard Ramon Sessions added a season-high 22 points on 8-of-12 shooting Friday to help Nevada’s cause, as the Wolf Pack recorded their ninth straight victory on the road.
A victory would give Nevada a better start to the season than last year’s club, which also opened 10-1 but dropped its two following games.
Maine (5-6) draws a tough assignment as it tries to recover from an overwhelming defeat, 75-42 at Penn State last Saturday.
Maine was held to its lowest point total since March 9, 2002, a 66-40 defeat to Boston University, and shot only 25.0 percent (14-for-56) from the floor.
Senior guard Jon Sheets made only 3 of 14 field-goal attempts, but was the only Black Bears player to reach double figures with 10 points. Sheets, who ranks second on the team with 11.6 points per game, has finished in double figures in five of his last six games.
Black Bears leading scorer Kevin Reed, who is averaging 11.7 points and 5.6 rebounds, had just eight points and three boards in Saturday’s loss.
This is the first meeting between Maine and Nevada in the history of the programs.
Nevada will follow Thursday’s game with a trip to KeyArena to face unranked Gonzaga on Dec. 30 in the Battle in Seattle, before opening Western Athletic Conference play at home against Idaho on Jan. 6.