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Friday, December 2, 2005

Fazekas plays big for Nevada

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On the stat sheet, Nick Fazekas' most important play Thursday never really happened.

Surely, the Nevada junior can live without the credit. He has a lot more pouring in from the rest of his dazzling night.

After hanging 35 points on Kansas University's basketball team Thursday, the 6-foot-11 Fazekas denied an attempt by C.J. Giles to tie the game just before the horn sounded, giving the Wolf Pack a 72-70 victory in front of a stunned, hostile crowd.

KU's bench thought Giles was fouled. Fazekas says no way.

Whatever the case, Fazekas didn't get whistled for the hack -- yet he didn't get credited with a blocked shot, either.

"I blocked it," Fazekas said. "I thought it was (clean). I don't think you can make a call like that at the end of the game."

It's only fitting that Fazekas was front-and-center for the game-changing play that fell in Nevada's favor. As KU slowly climbed a second-half cliff resulting from a 10-point first-half deficit, it seemed Fazekas was putting his foot on KU's throat one big bucket at a time.

Fazekas had 21 points in the second half alone -- in the paint and from downtown, guarded tight and wide-open, at first crack or on second chance.

"He played like an All-American," Nevada coach Mark Fox said. "Out of high school, people didn't think he could play at this level. But he's gotten better each year, and tonight he showed he can."

Fazekas certainly was Nevada's savior, considering KU's zone defense caused the Wolf Pack fits for most of the second half.

"We haven't seen much zone," Fox said. "We tried to beat it with the three-point shot. You can't do that."

Nevada (4-0) shot 10 threes in the second half, and hit just two, both by Fazekas. Still, the Kansas comeback was slow to build because of offensive rebounds and second-chance points.

In addition, the Wolf Pack nailed 17 of 19 free throws after halftime.

"This is a huge win for us," center Chad Bell said. "This gives us a lot of confidence, especially on the road. It's hard to win anywhere."

Bell then went on to gush about Fazekas, his fellow big man. So did Fox, so did KU coach Bill Self, and so did about anyone else who saw the standout's clinic Thursday.

Fazekas, for one, had a deserved smile on his face afterward.

"To win here is a big deal," Fazekas said. "Coming here and having those people go home unhappy because they lost ... it's a great feeling."

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