Pack Tops First Place Utah State

Marcelus Kemp scored 22 of his career-high 35
points in the second half and a young, error-prone Nevada team
avoided turnovers down the stretch as the Wolf Pack hung on to beat
the Aggies 85-80 Monday night in the Western Athletic Conference.
Kemp made 4-of-8 3-pointers and 13-of-14 free throws for the
Wolf Pack (16-8, 8-3 WAC), who had lost their last three games
against league-leading Utah State.
"Marcelus is such a warrior. He loves the big games and the big
moments," Nevada coach Mark Fox said.
"We beat an excellent team that we have a lot of respect for,"
he said. "We're not picked to win the conference so to be where
we're at is a great accomplishment for this team."
Jaycee Carroll scored 24 of his 29 points in the second half for
the Aggies (18-7, 8-2 WAC), who had pulled as close as 78-74 on
Gary Wilkinson's slam dunk with 46 seconds left after trailing by
as much as 64-46 midway through the second half.
Brandon Fields followed that dunk with a pair of free throws and
Kemp made 4-of-5 from the line the final 35 seconds to secure the
win for Nevada, which has won six of its last seven.
It was only the second loss in the last 15 games for Utah State,
which outrebounded Nevada 36-33.
"We had no answer for Kemp," Utah State coach Stew Morrill
said. "You've got to guard a guy like that with the whole team and
we didn't do that."
The Wolf Pack entered the game averaging 14 turnovers per outing
but finished the night with only four, a sign Fox said his team is
maturing offensively.
"I think you've seen that the last few games," he said. "I'm
real proud of the way we handled the ball and that was a big key to
this game."
Kemp, who also had seven rebounds and six assists, moved into
third on Nevada's career scoring list with 1,757 points. He
surpassed Alex Boyd, who scored 1,731 from 1967-70, and now trails
only Nick Fazekas, 2,464 (2003-07) and Edgar Jones, 1,877
(1975-79).
"It's a great honor but the main thing is we won the game,"
said Kemp, who initially entered the NBA draft last spring but
pulled out to return to Nevada for his senior year. "We just had
to keep fighting. The team stayed together and we got the win. We
kept our composure and stayed within our offense."
Armon Johnson had 16 points on 7-of-10 shooting from the field
and six assists for Nevada, which finished the first half with an
11-2 run to take a 38-30 halftime lead.
"I just let the game come to me," said Johnson, a true
freshman point guard from Reno's Hug High School. "The shots were
there and I took advantage of them."
JaVale McGee added 12 points and six blocked shots, including
one he grabbed and threw half court to Johnson, who pulled up for a
10-foot jumper to cap a 16-4 run that put Nevada ahead 58-41 with
12:46 left in the game.
"They played awfully well," Morrill said. "We knew what we
were up against with how well they've been playing, their talent
level."
"Our team hung in there and battled. I've got no complaints
about our effort. We were playing catchup the rest of the way," he
said. "We made some errors that hurt us, but they deserve
credit."
Caroll made 8-of-11 field goals the second half and scored 11
consecutive points for the Aggies - including 3-of-3 from behind
the arc - during one stretch to single-handedly put them back in
the game.
"It felt like he made 10 3-pointers," Fox said. "He's a great
player and a terrific representative of every school in the
conference."
Carroll, who had only 5 points the first half, said he tried to
be more aggressive the second half.
"Nevada was all over me. They did a good job defending. They
were physical. They were active. We played hard all night. We did
come back and fight," he said.
"Not a lot of teams are going to win here. Nevada's always
tough to beat here," Carroll said about a squad they could meet
again in the WAC conference tournament.
Freshman Tai Wesley had 13 points and 10 rebounds and Wilkinson
12 points and eight rebounds for the Aggies. Kris Clark tied his
career-high 10 assists.
The game originally was scheduled Jan. 5 but was postponed due
to a snow storm.


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