As a Zips fan, you should be content with the team's effort tonight.
Nevada won, 73-71, snapping Akron's 21-game winning streak at Rhodes Arena. Dru Joyce missed a runner at the buzzer to tie the game.
But the team played well and proved it can compete with the nation's elite.
Like Akron's loss at Illinois-Chicago, free throws were an issue. The Zips were 14 for 23, compared to the Wolf Pack's 18 for 21.
Both teams kept turnovers low, but a few from Joyce stand out as basically being unforced, such as an uncontested pass when Nick Dials wasn't looking. Joyce made up for it with 23 points to lead the team.
Dambrot showed incredible faith in his defense in the last minute. Down two with about 43 seconds left, he opted to play defense, rather than foul. I think 90 percent of coaches would foul, but Nevada is a strong foul shooting team. Still, it almost paid off.
Give credit to the coaching staff for adjusting to slow Nevada's superstar Nick Fazekas, who disappeared in the second half. Jeremiah Wood played admirable defense on Fazekas.
I also liked how they attacked the 6-foot-11 future pro in the paint. I don't know why Keith Dambrot abandoned that play, especially when the offense stagnated in the last 10 minutes of the game. Dambrot used more substitutions than I have ever seen in a basketball game. It looked like a hockey game with the line changes.
Nick Dials and Cedrick Middleton had subpar games, combining for 11 points. Romeo Travis, who scored 11, also will leave this game off his highlight reel.
Just as I thought Jimmy Conyers would win the small forward starting job, Nate Linhart had the game of his season. His shooting was nothing special, but he scrapped for several rebounds and won many hustle plays. Conyers was solid in the first half, but really needs to be more confident.
Danny Ferry and LeBron James were in attendance. Other than that, fan support was lackluster. The crowd was loud, but the game was far from a sellout. One positive: Tonight was the first time fans in the expensive seats showed a pulse. My suggestion is to pregame. Rowdiness increases with beer. Maybe load Tommy Evans Lounge with a keg. Distinguished alumni can become AK-Rowdies with some keg stands of Milwaukee's Best aka The Beast.
I'll have more on the game tomorrow.
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