RENO, Nev. (AP)—Northern Iowa coach Ben Jacobson knew his Panthers were in trouble when Nevada scored the first 10 points of the second half.
Trailing at halftime for only the sixth time this season, the 11th-ranked Wolf Pack started the second with a surge and pulled away to defeat Northern Iowa 79-64 for their 17th victory in the last 18 games.
Marcelus Kemp led the way with 18 points, nine rebounds and six assists, Nick Fazekas had 17 points and eight rebounds and Kyle Shiloh scored all 16 of his points in the second half for Nevada (24-2) of the Western Athletic Conference.
“They are too good of basketball team, they have too many offensive weapons to let them get that far away on their home floor,” Jacobson said.
“And when you don’t see them every day like a league team, until you get in that spot against these guys, I don’t know if you fully realize how good they are offensively,” he said.
Eric Coleman had 16 points and Grant Stout 10 for the Panthers (16-12) of the Missouri Valley Conference, who led at the half 33-32 but now have lost five in a row and eight of their last nine.
“We just executed offensively and came out and defended them a little bit better and just came out with a little more intensity,” Fazekas, who took only nine shots, making five, and converted all seven free-throw attempts.
“We didn’t play bad in the first half. They just played with us. They were playing a tough ball game the whole night,” Fazekas said.
Ramon Sessions was the fourth Nevada player in double figures, scoring 14 points with six assists for the Wolf Pack, who are now 59-6 at home since the start of the 2003-04 season.
“I was very pleased with our unselfish play,” Nevada coach Mark Fox said. “Tonight we shared the ball and because we did, we got some great shots in rhythm. It certainly helps with Nick getting all the attention inside. Kyle was terrific tonight.”
With UNI double-teaming the 6-foot-11 Fazekas, the Wolf Pack made 62.5 percent of their shots from the field the second half and 51 percent on the game. They made 9-of-18 from behind the 3-point arc, including 4-of-8 by Shiloh.
Jacobson said Fazekas’ unselfishness “is a big key and a big reason why this team is so good.”
“Nick doesn’t mind that the other guys score more than he does. You can see it on the tapes and you can see it again tonight,” Jacobson said.
Nevada started the second half with Fazekas’ baby hook, consecutive 3-point goals by Shiloh and Denis Ikovlev, and a pair of free throws from Sessions to go ahead 42-33 at 17:30.
Coleman stopped the run with a basket inside, but Sessions scored again then JaVale McGee and Sessions had back-to-back tip-ins to make it 48-35 lead with 15:10 left in the game.
Coleman again stopped the run, this time with a pair of free throws, but Shiloh hit consecutive 3-pointers to make it 54-37 at 13:43.
After Sessions laid the ball in off an alley oop from Kemp, Shiloh made another three and Kemp added a pair of free throws for a 66-45 lead at 8:39.
UNI freshman Jordan Eglseder answered with a 3-point goal and Jared Josten made a layup to pull within 66-50 at 7:45.
But Nevada ran off five in a row to make it 71-50 on Fazekas’ layup with 5:11 left and put the game away with its biggest lead on his two free throws at 2:27, 77-54.
Fazekas moved into fourth place on the WAC’s career rebounding list with 1,174, surpassing Paul Millsap, who had 1,172 at Louisiana Tech from 1984-88. Fazekas is fifth on the WAC’s all-time scoring list with 2,306, five shy of Fennis Dembo (Wyoming, 1984-88).
The Panthers scored eight in a row, including four by Coleman on a left-handed slam dunk over Fazekas and a 14-footer to tie it 17-17 midway through the first half. They went ahead 28-26 when freshman Jordan Eglseder followed a pair of free throws with a basket off a rebound at 5:07.
Ikovlev of Postville, Iowa, hit a 3-point goal to help Nevada regain the lead but Jared Josten made a 19-footer then made two free throws with 1 second on the clock for UNI’s 33-32 halftime lead.
Ikovlev finished with nine points on 3-of-3 shooting from long range.
“It was nice to play well,” he said. “I played in front of my high school coach and it was nice to play well in front of him.”