In the up and down season of Boise State's basketball team, they seldom have lost more than one game in a row. Coming off their loss to Hawai'i, who do they find in their way? None other than defending Western Athletic Conference champion Nevada. The Broncos and Wolf Pack meet tonight at 7 in Taco Bell Arena. The Pack downed Boise State 81-67 earlier this year in Reno.
Nevada, one of the top 25 teams in the nation earlier this year, has defeated Vermont, Kansas, Pacific and Georgia this season. The Pack have lost to UCLA, St. Mary's, Hawai'i, Fresno State and Utah State. Compiling a 13-5 record this season, Coach Mark Fox's team is outscoring opponents 70.8 to 64.1. The offense features good ball movement and aggressiveness. They get to the free-throw line often, shooting 80 more free throws on the season than their opponents. The Wolf Pack have made a name for themselves in the NCAA Tournament the last several years, but this year's team is continuing the tradition by starting 2 juniors, 2 sophomores and a freshman.
When you talk Nevada, you've got to start with forward Nick Fazekas (6-22, 225, So.) who is averaging 20.7 points per game, 21st in the nation. Fazekas does it all. He's 52.7% from the floor (139-264), 78-92 from the free throw line and a good long-range shooter, with 16 3-pointers on the season. He's always around the basket, grabbing 9 rebounds per game, including 42 on the offensive glass, and has 41 assists, 27 blocks and 20 steals. Plus, he plays in excess of 30 minutes a game and has yet to foul out of a game! You cannot stop Fazekas, but you must keep him from getting offensive rebounds and quick putbacks.
Junior Mo Charlo (6-7, 210) presents huge matchup problems for opponents, as he is the Pack's 3rd leading scorer at 11.8 points per contest and also the 2nd leading rebounder at 5.9 caroms a game. Charlo has 45 assists but 47 turnovers and leads the Pack in steals with 22. Kyle Shilo (6-3, 190, So.) also starts in the backcourt, averaging g 8.5 points.
Guard Marcelus Kemp (6-5, 210, So.) has been a spot starter, averaging 13.4 points a game. Like Fazekas, Kemp is an excellent free-throw shooter, hitting 85.7% from the charity stripe, 35th in the country. He's nailed 21 3-pointers and has 25 assists. Ramon Sessions (6-3, 190, Fr.) will relieve Charlo at point guard for Nevada; he's averaging 3.7 points. Sessons has 56 assists and 14 steals on the season. New Mexico transfer Chad Bell (7-0, 270, Jr.) is the center. Bell is averaging just 2.7 points and 3.1 rebounds but with Boise State lacking a strong big man, expect Nevada to go to Bell more often tonight.
You hate to be in a "must-win" situation playing a team like Nevada, but that's what Coach Greg Graham's team has played themselves into. Coming into the halfway point of the season, they are ahead of only San Jose State and Idaho. A win tonight would right a lot of their wrongs.