LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP)—One bad scoring game was all it took to get Nick Fazekas’ attention.
Held to single digits in his last outing, Nevada’s junior power forward responded with a career-high 35 points in the 20th-ranked Wolfpack’s 72-70 victory over Kansas on Thursday night.
“I took the UNLV game to heart,” said Fazekas, who had just six points in Nevada’s 68-61 win on Nov. 26. “I just played bad against UNLV, and I wasn’t going to come out here and do it again. I just felt really determined to come out here and do my thing.”
It was the most points scored against the Jayhawks by one player since Missouri’s Arthur Johnson scored 37 on March 27, 2004.
“He was hot,” Nevada coach Mark Fox said. “He didn’t play well the other night, and I really challenged him to bring it—and he did.”
Fazekas scored 21 points in the second half and made a disputed block in the closing seconds, helping the Wolfpack (4-0) hold off Kansas’ comeback bid. The Jayhawks fell to 2-3 for the first time since the 1972-73 season.
“We helped him be great, but he was great,” Kansas coach Bill Self said. “The whole thing with Nick, in my opinion, is you need to be physical with him. He didn’t have bodies on him.”
The Jayhawks got to 71-70 on Micah Downs’ 3-pointer with 17.6 seconds left, and got the ball back with time to get down the floor after Mo Charlo hit the second of two foul shots with 6.9 seconds left.
Jeff Hawkins, caught up in traffic near the baseline, dished to C.J. Giles in the lane. But Fazekas knocked the ball away as Giles went up to shoot, and time ran out.
Self stormed onto the court, demanding a foul be called, but to no avail.
“I’m not one to complain about officiating, and I’m not going to tonight,” Self said. “But we did exactly what we wanted to do. We wanted to drive it, because they’re told not to foul. Hawk made a great play to C.J.
“C.J. said he got fouled, but obviously we didn’t get the call.”
Fazekas, meanwhile, thought the Jayhawks had turned the ball over even before the block.
“We actually thought (Hawkins) dribbled the ball out of bounds,” he said. “Then C.J. got the rebound, and I think a few of us actually blocked it.”
Charlo added 12 points for the Wolfpack, who made up for their second-half shooting struggles by finishing 21-for-24 from the line. The Jayhawks lost despite outscoring Nevada 57-51 from the field.
Sasha Kaun led Kansas with 19 points on 7-for-14 shooting, but missed several open looks near the basket.
“He missed a couple of bunnies, because he got in a hurry,” Self said. “But, gosh, we didn’t expect Sasha to be averaging 17 a game right now.”
Brandon Rush added 15 points, all but two in the second half.
Kansas shot just 34 percent (12-for-35) in the first half, dropping as low as 30 percent (10-for-33), and trailed 35-27 at the break. But a 16-7 run, capped by Russell Robinson’s basket with just over 8 1/2 minutes left, put the Jayhawks up 52-50.
They took their biggest lead, 57-54, on two free throws by Rush with 4:42 left. But Fazekas converted a 3-pointer at the other end and Ramon Sessions followed with a pair of free throws to make it 59-57, and the Wolfpack never trailed again.
“It’s really frustrating,” Giles said. “We need to turn it on at the beginning of the game instead of waiting until the second half.”
Nevada took the lead for good, 61-59, on two free throws by Charlo with 3:44 left.
An intentional foul on Nevada’s Chad Bell helped spark Kansas’ second-half comeback.
Bell shoved Kansas’ Mario Chalmers as Chalmers drove for a layup, and Chalmers was injured and had to leave the game. Hawkins replaced Chalmers and hit both free throws, then scored on a layup on the ensuing inbounds play to get Kansas to 43-42 with just over 13 1/2 minutes left.
Chalmers later returned to the bench, limping noticeably, and did not play again. Self said Chalmers had an injured toe, but he would not know the extent of the injury until Chalmers was examined by a doctor.