Marcelus Kemp scored 17 points and No. 10 Nevada gave its starters plenty of rest in an 88-56 win over Idaho in the quarterfinals of the Western Athletic Conference tournament March 8.
The Wolf Pack (28-3) hit their first five shots and didn't need three-time conference player of the year Nick Fazekas to quickly put away the smaller, younger and overmatched Vandals (4-27).
Kemp, who at 6-foot-5 and 210 pounds has the quickness of a guard and strength of a power forward, got the run going with a 10-foot jumper and a 3-pointer. The Wolf Pack built a 12-3 lead 3 minutes into the game and by the time Fazekas scored on a baseline hook with 11:54 left in the first half, the lead was 28-10.
Idaho never posed a threat against Nevada, which didn't hesitate to go deep into its bench. Ten Wolf Pack players scored in the first half as the lead grew to 49-24 by halftime.
Idaho, the ninth seed in the conference tournament, was led by freshman David Jackson with 17 points and guard Keoni Watson with 15. The Vandals, who snapped a 12-game losing streak with a win over San Jose State in the tournament's play-in game Tuesday night, got no closer than 76-52 in the second half.
Fazekas, who came into the tournament averaging 21 points and 11.3 rebounds a game, took just two shots and had only two points in the first half. For a while, his 58-game streak of double-figure scoring appeared in jeopardy, but he took care of that by scoring the Wolf Pack's first six points of the second half and a jumper in the lane with 13:12 left.
He finished with a season-low 10 points, but managed a double-double with 10 rebounds. His backup, 7-foot-1 junior David Ellis, scored a season-high 11 points.
Even with its starters on the bench, Nevada was a study in efficiency in the decisive first half. The Wolf Pack hit 20 of 34 shots, went 5-for-10 on 3-pointers and had just three turnovers.
Nevada Game Notes:
- With the 88-56 win over Idaho in the WAC Tournament quarterfinals, Nevada improved to 28-3 on the year. That ties the school record for wins in a single season, matching the 28 victories the Wolf Pack turned in during the 1945-46 season (28-5 that year).
- Third-year head coach Mark Fox picked up his 80th career win with today's victory. Fox was named the National Association of Basketball Coaches District 13 Coach of the Year today and has now turned in an 80-16 record in his three seasons at Nevada.
- The Wolf Pack also won its WAC Tournament quarterfinal game for the fifth time in its seven years as a member of the league and improved to 10-4 in WAC Tournament games.
- Junior Marcelus Kemp led four Wolf Pack players in double figures for scoring with 14 points. Junior David Ellis set his career high with 11 points, while senior Kyle Shiloh added 12 and senior Nick Fazekas had 10.
- Fazekas pulled down a team-best 10 rebounds, marking his 19th double-double this year and the 60th of his career.
- Nevada got a season-high 42 points from its bench vs. the Vandals. In addition to the career-high 11 points from Ellis, freshman Matt LaGrone set a career best with seven points and freshman JaVale McGee matched his career high with eight.
- The top-seeded Wolf Pack will take on the winner of the quarterfinal game between fourth-seeded Utah State and fifth-seeded Hawai'i on Friday at 6:05 p.m. Mountain Time (5:05 p.m. Pacific) in the WAC Tournament semifinals. That game will be televised locally on KAME-TV 21 and can be heard on Nevada's flagship radio station, ESPN 630 AM.