FRESNO, Calif. (AP)—For the first time since spraining his ankle last month, Nick Fazekas told his coach that he really felt healthy.
Then he went out and showed it with more than a dozen NBA scouts in attendance.
Fazekas had a season-high 33 points, 15 rebounds and keyed a big run to open the second half that carried No. 12 Nevada to a 81-68 victory over Fresno State on Thursday night.
“I definitely had the touch tonight,” Fazekas said. “That’s the way I feel every night. Sometimes the ball is not going in or I see a different defense. Fortunately, tonight they were falling.”
Kyle Shiloh added 18 points and a career-high 11 rebounds, and the Wolf Pack (22-2, 10-1 Western Athletic Conference) dominated the boards against the Bulldogs (16-8, 5-6) to win for the 15th time in 16 games.
Nevada outrebounded Fresno State 56-27, getting 25 offensive boards that led to 25 second-chance points.
“It was toughness and determination to go get the ball,” Fazekas said. “We worked as hard as we could in practice the past week. We hadn’t been playing well. We worked on rebounding because we had been getting outrebounded. This last week of practice we beat each other up and it paid off tonight.”
Fazekas scored the first two baskets of the second half to extend a two-point lead and had nine points in all in a 14-4 run that gave the Wolf Pack a 54-42 lead.
After Kevin Bell hit a 3-pointer for Fresno State, Nevada answered with a pair of 3-pointers by Shiloh and another by Denis Ikolev to go up 63-45 with 13:49 remaining.
“Coming out of halftime in close games, that first five minutes will dictate which way the game will go,” Ikolev said. “We came out pretty fresh and ran our stuff and pulled away.”
The Bulldogs responded with a 12-2 run that cut the lead to eight, but Fazekas answered with a basket and the lead never got below 10 after that.
Fazekas, who missed two games last month with the ankle sprain, recorded his 15th double-double in 22 games this season.
“Nick’s a lot healthier than when we played the first time,” Nevada coach Mark Fox said. “He told me yesterday that he felt good, which is the first time he told me that. I’d say he was between 95 and 100 percent. It was the healthiest he looked in over a month.”
Dominic McGuire led Fresno State with 15 points, but was just 3-for-11 from the foul line. The Bulldogs were 10-for-25 overall from the line, losing for just the fifth time in 29 home games the past two seasons. Hector Hernandez added 13 points and Quinton Hosley had 12.
“We got to the line. Those should be easy shots,” Hosley said. “Nobody is contesting them. It was disappointing when you miss them. If we knocked more of them down the game would have been a lot closer.”
Fresno State missed its first nine shots from the field before Bell’s baseline jumper got the Bulldogs on the board three minutes into the game. Despite the poor shooting start, Fresno State hung close and provided the highlight of the opening half with a sequence of back-to-back dunks.
Hosley started the jam-fest with the more impressive of the dunks, an emphatic slam over Fazekas that also drew a foul. Hosley missed the free throw but fed McGuire on a fast break the next trip down for another slam that cut the Wolf Pack’s lead to 28-26.
Fresno State was hurt by poor foul shooting in the half, missing 10 of 17 from the line, including two by McGuire with 8.1 seconds left that could have tied the game at 40 before the break.
“Normally I block everything out,” McGuire said. “You miss a couple and you start hearing the crowd. I was thinking about too much other stuff. It was just a lack of focus.”
Fresno State was without one of its top players, Ja’Vance Coleman, who was dismissed from the team earlier this week for violating team rules. Coleman, who was averaging 10.2 points, was replaced by Eddie Miller in the starting lineup. Miller finished with six points on 1-for-7 shooting.