RENO - If there is a team that has had to endure a tougher road basketball schedule than Nevada has this season, it is Norfolk State.
The Spartans (2-8), who visit 20th-ranked Nevada (8-1) tonight, have played exactly one home game thus far.
Their opponents have been some of the most well-known programs in the country, including Wisconsin, Fordham, Eastern Kentucky, George Washington, Ohio State, Fresno State and Creighton. So it's small wonder the Spartans have struggled at times this season.
"Their schedule has been every bit as difficult as ours," Nevada coach Mark Fox said. "They are well-traveled. They are a physical team and we'll have to play well."
Nevada is 4-0 at home this season and is coming off a tough 68-62 win over Georgia, the biggest name on Nevada's home schedule this season.
Forwards Nick Fazekas (20.1) and Mo Charlo (15.1) have played well throughout the season. Marcelus Kemp averages 14.3 off the bench. Nevada got a big offensive boost from Kyle Shiloh, who averages 5.8, but scored 14 against Georgia.
The Pack will face a team with a front line of 6-foot-8 Calvin Brown (11.3), 6-8 Karandick Ogunride (5.8) and 6-7 Tyrell Dunkley (4.0). It's a physical, yet athletic group. Leading scorer Tony Murphy, a 6-4 220-pound guard, averages 16.1 per game.
"We had three or four days to prepare," Norfolk State coach Dwight Freeman said. "We know it will be an uphill battle to win the game. We're playing pretty solid. We're turning the ball over a little bit too much, but we're getting better.
"I don't think anybody is surprised (with the record). I don't think anybody expected us to average as many turnovers (18.7)."
Norfolk State's record isn't impressive by any means, but one has to consider the schedule they have played.
"We're a low-end Division I team,'' Freeman said. "This is a great opportunity for us to measure up and see where we are. When you play on the road as much as we have and against the type of teams we play, you can't expect to be successful until you catch up with the other schools."
Murphy leads the team in scoring at 16.1, but Freeman said he can play better. Brown has nice numbers at 11.3 points and 5.3 boards per contest.
"Tony is not shooting as well as he can," Freeman said. "Shooters go through cycles. He'll be OK.
"Brown is playing pretty well. He's doing a good job inside. He's a special kid. He's a fighter. He's only 6-8. It's going to be tough against Nevada's front line."
NOTES: This is the first meeting between the schools. Norfolk State is a member of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference ... Nevada is 5-0 in games decided by 10 points or less... At 8-1, Nevada is off to the best start since the 1978-79 squad won 10 of its first 11 games en route to a 21-7 record ... The 6-11 Fazekas is third in the WAC in scoring and 38th in the country ... Nevada, which shot 27 percent and made just 2.72 3-pointers a game last season, now leads the WAC and is 30th in the nation. Nevada is shooting 39.8 from beyond the arc and has drained 45 3-pointers this season. The Pack finished with just 87 all of last season.
n Contact Darrell Moody at email@example.com or call 881-1281