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Kemp guides Nevada past New Mexico State

Mar 4, 2007 - 7:37 AM RENO, Nevada (Ticker) -- Nevada got its revenge but minus any style points.

Marcelus Kemp scored 32 points to lift the ninth-ranked Wolf Pack to a 69-65 victory over New Mexico State in the Western Athletic Conference regular-season finale for both teams.

With Nevada (27-3, 14-2 WAC) having already clinched the No. 1 seed for the conference tournament and the Aggies having sewn up the No. 2 seed, the teams had little to play for - and it showed.

The Wolf Pack did avenge an 80-73 loss at New Mexico State on January 20, but otherwise the game offered few riveting moments despite the close score.

Nevada coach Mark Fox attributed some of the haphazard play to the emotions brought on by Senior Night.

"It was an extremely emotional night," Fox said. "The key for us in the second half was we took better care of the basketball. ... We were much better in the second half. We calmed down."

Nevada point guard Ramon Sessions shot 1-of-7 from the floor and had zero assists against nine turnovers while his team shot 39 percent (19-of-49) and hit just 2-of-17 from 3-point range.

The Wolf Pack's best offense came at the free-throw line, with Kemp hitting 12-of-13 and two-time WAC Player of the Year Nick Fazekas nailing 12-of-15 on his way to 22 points.

Fazekas also had nine rebounds to just miss his 19th double-double of the season.

"Nick has been so good that people take him for granted," Fox said. "He makes it look so easy and he carried our team. He has always cared more about this team than himself."

A follow shot by Fazekas gave Nevada a 63-59 lead with 4:55 left, but the teams combined for just a single free throw - by Fazekas - over the next 3 1/2 minutes.

"Our guys were focused mentally and physically," Aggies coach Reggie Theus said. "We shot 40 percent and down the stretch we didn't get it done."

New Mexico State's Elijah Ingram finally broke the drought, converting a layup to cut the deficit to 64-61 with 1:18 to go.

After one free throw by Kemp, Rob Knauber brought the Aggies within 65-63 with 28 ticks remaining on a driving layup, but he missed the free throw and a chance for a three-point play.

Kemp and Fazekas each hit two free throws to seal it for Nevada, which won its 12th straight home game.

"While they were making free throws, we had our chances and didn't convert," Theus said. "They made the plays. We had advantages down the court and didn't make the basket."

Kemp finished 9-of-17 from the field as Nevada completed a perfect 8-0 home record in league play.

"It was an adrenaline rush," Kemp said. "They were cheering every time we did something good and it really helped us."

Tyrone Nelson scored 15 points and Ingram 13 for the Aggies (22-8, 11-5), who shot 39 percent (25-of-64).