RUSTON, La. -- Nevada coach Mark Fox was not happy with the Wolf Pack's play even though they came away with a win.
"We just didn't play at the level we needed to against a Louisiana Tech team that is better than their record shows and who fought extremely hard throughout the game," Fox said. "We were fortunate to be able to get this win."
Nick Fazekas and Marcellus Kemp each scored 20 points as Nevada (No. 13 ESPN/USA Today, No. 15 AP) beat Louisiana Tech 79-71 on Wednesday night in the Western Athletic Conference game, with Fazekas fueling a 12-6 run to start the second half and extend a 31-27 halftime lead to 43-33.
"We got off to a good start in the second half and got a little breathing room with Kemp's outside shooting but then Tech got right back in it with their defensive stops," Fox said.
Louisiana Tech (6-15, 4-5) closed within 47-44 on a 6-2 run. Tech was able to keep the game within three and trailed 68-65 with 2:30 left before Nevada closed the game with a 11-6 run.
"It came down to us just not making enough big stops," Tech coach Keith Richard said. "We had our chances, got pretty close to them late in the game but against a good team like Nevada, you've got to make every big stop every chance you get and we just didn't do that in the last four or five minutes of the game.
"Every time we got close they'd hit big shots and the guys they had coming off their bench, they don't lose much," he said.
After getting down 19-9, the Bulldogs used stingy defense and free throws to climb back, and Trey McDowell connected on a 3-pointer with 6:45 left in the first half to give Tech its first lead in the game 23-21.
Nevada would outscore the Bulldogs 11-7 for the remainder of the half and started the second half much like the first with a 6-0 run, before Jerome Richardson connected on a pair of free throws to cut to the lead to 37-29 with 17:12 left in the game.
Another McDowell 3 later in the half sparked a 6-0 Bulldog run that pulled Tech back within three points at 47-44 with 11:41 left, but the Wolf Pack answered with a 6-0 run of their own to take a 53-46 lead.
Both teams traded baskets for almost the remainder of the half, but it would be Nevada who would come away with the win.
"The thing Nevada does so well is they have good play-makers," Richard said. "If you make a defense mistake, they find the right guy and capitalize on it. It makes it difficult to get over the hump since they make such big plays. You can't make mistakes against this team."
Kyle Shiloh added 10 points for Nevada, who shares first place in conference play with New Mexico State.