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Nevada gets by Cal-State Fullerton
by Dan Eckles
Nov 16, 2012 | 2540 views | 0 0 comments | 5 5 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Tribune photo by John Byrne - University of Nevada junior point guard Deonte Burton ties the game with this driving layup in the final minute of Friday night's home win over Cal-St. Fullerton.
Tribune photo by John Byrne - University of Nevada junior point guard Deonte Burton ties the game with this driving layup in the final minute of Friday night's home win over Cal-St. Fullerton.
RENO -- Deonte Burton has played the role of hero a few times for the Nevada Wolf Pack men's basketball team. He did it again Friday night.

Burton scored a team-high 19 points and helped Nevada pull out an 80-77 victory in its home opener against Cal-State Fullerton.

Just a few seconds after missing a driving runner that would have given Nevada a late lead, he got another chance. Burton took advantage of a seam in the lane and made a driving left-handed layup to tie the game at 77-77 with 14.1 seconds left in the contest. He was also fouled on the play, so he drained the ensuing foul shot and put the Pack ahead 78-77.

On Cal-State's Fullerton's corresponding possession, DJ Seeley attacked the rim from the baseline but Burton got a piece of his shot for a block. The ball fell out of bounds and left Nevada with possession and 2.6 seconds remaining on the game clock. Burton got open, grabbed the in-bounds pass and proceeded to make two more free throws in the waning seconds to ice the Pack's three-point victory, its first triumph of the young season.

Fourth-year Nevada coach David Carter wasn't surprised by Burton's heroics.

"When we call timeout, I call his number. When the game is close, I call his number," Carter said. "I trust he'll make the right play. It's my third year with him and he's a big-time player. He wants the ball in those types of situations."

Burton echoed those sentiments.

"I just kept attacking," Nevada's junior point guard said, alluding to the late-game sequence. "I was a little off tonight, but had the will to win. I wanted to keep attacking and my teammates had faith in me ... On their last possession, I just couldn't give up a bucket. I switched onto the guy who was driving. I did everything I could and got the block."

Nevada trailed by five, 37-32, at the half. The margin was still six, 47-41, after Seeley made good on 1-of-2 free throws four minutes into the second half.

That's when Nevada finally got going. The Wolf Pack answered with a 9-0 spurt that was wrapped up on a Burton layup at the 13:10 mark of the second half. The run saw the local school take its first lead of the game, 50-47.

Still, Nevada could not run away and hide. Cal-State Fullerton hung tough and still held a five-point lead, 72-67, after Alex Harris buried a trey from the corner with just under five minutes remaining in the contest, which was a first-round affair of Nevada's three-day World Vision Classic.

Six days after dropping its season opener 78-64 at UC Irvine, Nevada refused to collapse. The Pack scored eight of the next nine points and led 75-73 after a pair of free throws by Kevin Panzer.

Unfortunately for Nevada, Harris knocked down another corner 3-pointer and Kwame Vaughn connected on 1-of-2 free throws, giving the visiting Titans (0-2) a 77-75 advantage, but setting the stage for Burton's late-game efforts.

In addition to Burton's scoring, Nevada also got a career-high 18 points from Panzer and freshman Cole Huff chipped in 11 points while also snatching a game-high nine rebounds.

Cal-State Fullerton did not trail in the first 20 minutes. Titans guard Sammy Yeager drained a 3-pointer from the corner at the 10:25 mark of the first half and helped the suburban Los Angeles grab a 24-12 lead and the early momentum.

Yeager hit 4-of-6 shots in the first half and led all scorers at the half with 11 points. He finished with 19.

The Wolf Pack began to cut into the Titans' lead from there. A 13-2 Nevada run, capped by a Panzer dunk, saw Nevada get within a point at 26-25 with 6:55 left in the first half. Fullerton scored nine of the next 13 points to extend its edge back to six, 35-29, before settling for the five-point halftime lead.

Nevada helped its cause by settling down on offense after the break. The Pack turned the ball over 12 times in the first half but finished with 15 on the night.

"It was tough because their small lineup was switching everything," Carter said. "They took us out of our offense a little bit. Their switching really hurt us.

"I thought our guys really grew up tonight. Close games make you grow up quicker."

The Wolf Pack won the rebounding war 34-32 but the shooting stats were tight. Nevada made good on 26-57 (45.6 percent) shots from the field, compared to CSF's 25-53 (47.2) performance.

"This was really big coming off the loss at Irvine," Panzer said in the postgame interview session. "It really boosts our confidence and that will show in tomorrow's game."

The Wolf Pack will play Wisconsin-Green Bay today at 6 p.m.

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