Kemp scored 21 of his season-high 33 points in the first half to
help the Wolf Pack (No. 15 ESPN/USA Today; No. 19 AP) overcome the loss of their injured
star and beat San Jose State 72-63 Thursday night.
Kemp's best game of the season helped the Wolf Pack bounce back
from a slow start as they fell behind by eight points, struggling a
bit without Fazekas.
"We built a plan for this team that includes Nick Fazekas,"
coach Mark Fox said. "In short periods, you can adjust to not
having him. It's a completely different operation without him in
the middle. So we did have an adjustment period."
With Fazekas watching on the end of the bench with a severely
sprained left ankle, Kemp took over the scoring load for the Wolf
Pack (15-1, 3-0 Western Athletic Conference), who are off to the
best start in school history.
Kemp scored on a wide variety of moves, including floaters, put
backs, fast breaks, and most effectively on long 3-pointers to help
Nevada win its eighth straight overall and ninth in a row against
San Jose State (1-14, 0-3).
Playing without their best post player in Fazekas, the Wolf Pack
relied heavily on the outside shot. They scored half of their
points on 3-pointers, with Kemp hitting five of Nevada's 12
"Nick's out and he averages more than 20 points a game," said
Kemp, who finished one shy of his career high set in the NCAA
tournament last season against Montana. "As a team, we know we
have to get some more baskets for ourselves. I was able to do that
Fazekas, the two-time WAC player of the year, injured his ankle
on Monday night against Boise State and will also miss at least
Saturday's game at Hawaii. Fazekas is second in the nation in
rebounding (12.3 per game) and 17th in scoring (20.8), but Kemp
made sure he would not be missed.
Kemp carried the Wolf Pack in the first half and then scored the
final five points of a 7-0 run early in the second half that gave
Nevada a 46-36 lead. The Wolf Pack led by at least seven the rest
of the way.
"Obviously Marcelus was more aggressive and we wanted him to be
that way," Fox said.
Kyle Shiloh was the only other player in double figures for
Nevada with 14 points.
Menelik Barbary led San Jose State with 23 points and Carlton
Spencer added 16.
The Wolf Pack missed Fazekas more on the defensive end than on
offense, as they had no answer early in the game for the inside
play of Barbary. San Jose State's 6-foot-10 center overpowered
fill-in David Ellis and scored 12 points in a span of 6:22 early in
the game to give the Spartans a 19-11 lead.
Kemp then took over with a dazzling array of long-range shots.
He scored all of Nevada's points during a 14-4 run that gave the
Wolf Pack a 28-25 lead. He hit three 3-pointers during the spurt,
including one from well behind the arc.
"I think we let Kemp get too many open looks in the first
half," San Jose State coach George Nessman said. "In the second
half, the guy made some monster shots on us. What are you going to
do? All you can ask your players to do is to be in the right
position defensively and challenge the guy and make it tough on
The back-to-back 3s to end the run put Kemp over the 20-point
mark for the fifth straight game -- just 17:03 into the contest.
Kemp's big half helped Nevada take a 34-32 lead at the break.
Despite seeing his team lose its eighth straight game, Nessman
is seeing signs of progress following a six-point loss at New
Mexico State and this game against Nevada.
"We're playing better as a group and we're improving and we're
challenging people," he said. "We're going to catch somebody on
the wrong night and get in the right column and start moving
forward. We're disappointed with the results but we're not
discouraged at all. We think as a program we're moving forward."