Public Bettors Say Favorite Gonzaga is The Play Today Over Nevada
The Wolf Pack (11-1) are 5-0 away from the Lawlor Events Center so
far, including wins at Pac-10 schools Oregon State and California. Nevada will begin Western Athletic Conference play after this game, but Mark Fox's team also has a non-conference home game as part of ESPN's ``Bracket Buster'' series in February.
As has been the case for almost the entire season, Marcellus Kemp and Nick Fazekas were the stars of the Wolf Pack's most recent victory. Kemp scored 20 points while Fazekas added 18 and 13 rebounds as Nevada extended its current win streak to four games with an 89-69 romp over Maine.
``It seems like it had been forever since we had played a game,'' said Fox, whose team had been idle since edging Akron 73-71 on Dec. 22. ``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.''
Either Kemp or Fazekas has led the Wolf Pack in scoring in all 12 games, but Fazekas - the school's all-time leading scorer - also has three consecutive double-doubles, giving him 10 this season and 51 for his collegiate career. The senior forward is averaging 20.7 points, shooting 58.1 percent from the field and leads the nation at 12.7 rebounds per game.
The 6-foot-11 Fazekas, who likely will match up with Gonzaga center Josh Heytvelt, felt the win was a good tune-up for the Bulldogs.
``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,'' he said.
Fazekas also moved into eighth on the WAC's all-time scoring list with 2,060 points.
Gonzaga (9-4) is playing its fourth ranked opponent of the season, having already beaten North Carolina and Washington before losing 61-54 to then-No. 6 Duke at New York's Madison Square Garden in its most recent game on Dec. 21. Jeremy Pargo scored 21 points for the Bulldogs, who have lost three of their last four after an 8-1 start, but leading scorer Derek Raivio was held to a season-low four and went just 1-for-4 from the field in 38 minutes.
``We are trying to play in big games and big environments that mimic the NCAA tournament,'' Bulldogs coach Mark Few said. ``That game had an NCAA tournament feel to it, with somewhat of a neutral floor and teams away from home. Two teams going at it really hard, playing hard and wanting it. Their guys stepped up and made plays down the stretch.''
This is the first time the Bulldogs have lost consecutive games since a three-game road skid from Dec. 9-20, 2000. But Gonzaga is 3-0 all-time in ``The Battle at Seattle,'' defeating Missouri, Massachusetts and Oklahoma State each of the past three seasons.
Raivio is averaging 19.0 points and shooting 47.1 percent (40-for-85) from 3-point range. The 6-foot-11 Heytvelt has scored in double figures in all 13 games this season and is second on the team in scoring at 16.3 points per game.
Gonzaga leads the all-time series 4-3, but Nevada came away with a second-round upset of the second-seeded Bulldogs in the second round of the 2004 NCAA tournament in a 91-72 upset as Fazekas had 16 points and 10 rebounds.
``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.''
by: Marc Young - theSpread.com - Email Us
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