RENO, Nev. (AP)—Nick Fazekas wasn’t concerned about coming out flat after a weeklong layoff since No. 21 Nevada’s last game.
Marcelus Kemp scored 22 points and Fazekas added 19 points and 11 rebounds to lead the three-time defending Western Athletic Conference champions to an 81-55 victory over Idaho on Saturday night.
Kemp made 8-of-13 from the field and Fazekas 7-of-8 for the Wolf Pack (13-1, 1-0), who went on a 20-6 run late in the first half and shot 57 percent on the game en route to their sixth straight victory since their lone loss to rival UNLV.
Nevada had not played since beating Gonzaga in Seattle last Saturday.
“We were wanting to play,” Fazekas said. “We were looking forward to starting the WAC season so we weren’t really worried about coming out flat. We were definitely ready to play tonight.”
Keoni Watson was the lone scorer in double figures with 19 for the Vandals (2-12, 0-2), who were outrebounded 45-26 and shot only 31 percent from the field.
Nevada led 46-28 at the half and by as much as 32—80-48 on freshman JaVale McGee’s slam dunk off a pass from Lyndale Burleson with 4 minutes remaining.
“This is far and away the best team we’ve played,” Idaho coach George Pfeifer said. “They are solid. They do everything well.”
Fazekas, a 6-foot-11 senior, moved past Josh Grant (Utah 1988-93) into eighth place on the WAC’s all-time rebounding list with 1,072. It was his 11th double-double of the season and 52nd of his career.
Kyle Shiloh, Ramon Sessions, David Ellis and freshman Brandon Fields each scored seven points for the Wolf Pack, who are off to their best start in 55 years and now are 52-6 at home since the start of the 2003-04 season.
“I thought we came out and played fairly sharp in the first half,” Nevada coach Mark Fox said. “We were able to build a lead and get some young guys some experience,” he said.
Fazekas scored eight consecutive points for Nevada early in the second half — three in a row off rebounds—and Kemp sandwiched a pair of 3-point plays around Ellis’ hook shot for a 66-37 lead with 13:37 left in the game. The lead grew to 78-45 when Ellis converted a 3-point play then Burleson scored on a break off a pass from Shiloh 1t 6:56.
Kemp scored nine points in the first 7 minutes of the game, including two 3-pointers. Watson followed a 3-point goal with a drive to the hoop to pull to 19-14 at 11:29.
But Nevada outscored the Vandals 20-6 over the next 7 minutes—including consecutive 3-pointers by Denis Ikovlev, Sessions, Shiloh and Fazekas—and went ahead 39-20 on Sessions’ basket inside off an inbounds pass at 4:29.
Trevor Morris ended the Wolf Pack’s 9-0 run with an 18-footer then Michael Crowell made a 3-pointer and Mitchell Johnson scored inside, was fouled and made the free throw to make it 43-28 but Kemp converted a 3-point play of his own with 18 seconds on the clock to make it 46-28.
“I’m happy we got our first win in WAC play,” Kemp said. “Any win is a good win.”