RENO, Nev. (AP)—Maine coach Ted Woodward couldn’t find a weakness in Nevada’s game.
Marcelus Kemp scored 20 points and Nick Fazekas added 18 points and 13 rebounds to lead the Wolf Pack to an 89-69 victory over the Black Bears on Thursday night.
“They are an awfully good basketball team. They really have tremendous balance, great size, great depth. Really, I don’t know what weaknesses they have,” Woodward said.
“They play tremendous defense. Obviously on the boards, they are able to get tremendous possessions. They are an outstanding passing basketball team and that is reflected in their assist-to-turnover ratio,” he said.
Kyle Shiloh had nine points and Ramon Sessions eight points and seven assists for the Wolf Pack (11-1), who shot 60 percent from the field while holding the Black Bears to 38 percent.
Junior Bernal scored 18 points, Mark Socoby 11 and Jon Sheets 10 for Maine (5-7), which was outrebounded 36-31 and never led.
It was the first game in a week for Nevada, which plays Gonzaga Saturday in a regional matchup being billed as the “Battle in Seattle.”
“We took a lot away from it because coach was telling us it was a way for us to come back from Christmas break and play a good team like Maine and get a good solid win for No. 11,” Fazekas said.
It was the 10th double-double of the year for Fazekas, who has 51 in his career and entered the night leading the NCAA in rebounding averaging 12.6 per game. He moved into eighth on the Western Athletic Conference’s career scoring list with 2,060 points, surpassing Flynn Robinson, who had 2,049 at Wyoming from 1963-65.
Fazekas, who played only 23 minutes, also became Nevada’s all-time leader for free throws made with 456, moving ahead of Terrance Green, who had 455 from 1999-2003. The 6-foot-11 senior forward has made 81 percent of his 563 free throw attempts in his career.
“It seems like it had been forever since we had played a game,” Nevada coach Mark Fox said. “We played a lot of guys so the rhythm of the game was disrupted but we got some things accomplished. We didn’t do some things very well but we got the win and that’s what mattered most.”
Fazekas had eight points and seven rebounds in the first six minutes, then hit a 3-pointer to put Nevada ahead 19-10 at 12:10 in the first half. Kemp, Tyrone Hanson and Shiloh made consecutive 3-pointers to make it 41-26 and the Wolf Pack led 45-28 at the half.
Jason Hight and Socoby made consecutive threes to cut it to 55-42 with 13:36 left in the game. But Kemp made an 18-footer and two 3-pointers in a 3-minute span to put the Wolf Pack ahead 63-42 and Hanson gave them their biggest lead, 69-47, with a 3-point goal at 9:51.
The Wolf Pack made 8-of-20 shots from behind the arc, including 3-of-6 by Kemp. Hanson finished with eight points and freshman Brandon Fields had eight points and five assists for Nevada, which suffered its only loss against UNLV.
Nevada will meet Gonzaga for the first time since the Wolf Pack knocked the Bulldogs out of the 2004 NCAA tournament in the second round.
“That was a special weekend for us, but those were two different teams,” Fox said. “What happened in that game with execution, Xs and Os, is not going to have a lot of impact on what happens Saturday.”