MW: SDSU, Pack 1-2 going into Tuesday’s game
The Fresno State Bulldogs brought the New Mexico Lobos to the floor last week.
“This group has worked really hard,” said Fresno State coach Justin Hutson, whose Bulldogs stunned the Lobos, 71-67, on Jan. 3 in front of 4,868 fans in Fresno. “They stick with it and that’s what it’s all about, right?”
The loss snapped a 14-game season-opening streak for New Mexico. The Lobos also lost again four nights later, 84-77, at home to UNLV and fell from No. 1 to No. 3 in this week’s Nevada Appeal Mountain West rankings.
“It was an unbelievable run to go two months without a loss,” said New Mexico coach Richard Pitino, whose Lobos (15-2, 2-2) snapped their brief two-game losing streak in Monday by a non-82-75 score. conference win over Oral Roberts.
New Mexico’s Jamal Mashburn had 22 points against Fresno State. The Lobos led the Bulldogs 67-66 with 1:58 to go, but didn’t score the rest of the game.
Morris Udeze had 22 points and 13 rebounds in New Mexico’s loss at UNLV. The Lobos blew a 43-38 halftime lead in front of 15,424 fans at The Pit in Albuquerque, the Lobos’ largest home crowd since 2009.
“I’m disappointed that our fans had to leave here with a loss,” Pitino said.
No. 9-ranked Fresno State didn’t hang on in its win over New Mexico. The Bulldogs fell to Colorado State, 79-57, four nights later. Isaih Moore had 23 points and eight rebounds for Fresno State, which fell to 6-9, 2-2.
“They (Colorado State) were good tonight and we weren’t good,” Hutson said. “You need to let everyone know we weren’t the Bulldogs tonight.”
San Diego State (12-3, 3-0) moved up to No. 1 by beating Wyoming, 80-75, last week. Lamont Butler scored a career-high 23 points for the Aztecs, making 5 of 11 three-pointers. Butler had scored just 29 points in his last four games combined.
“He played with confidence,” San Diego State coach Brian Dutcher said. “Someone has to step up and make shots and tonight it was Lamont. If Lamont had sat there and said, ‘They’re leaving me open, I can’t shoot,’ then we never would have won the game.
The 6-foot-2 Butler, in his third season at San Diego State, had made just six 3-pointers all season before the game.
“I put in a lot of work over the summer to let people guard me like that,” Butler said. “I haven’t shot as well as I wanted to this year, but today I was out of it.”
The Aztecs will host No. 2 Nevada on Tuesday in a matchup of the top two teams in the conference. Nevada, winners of its sixth straight, is now 14-3 overall and atop the conference at 4-0 after beating Colorado State, 80-69, and San Jose State, 67-40, last week.
“Nevada was just more aggressive and more connected,” said San Jose State coach Tim Miles, whose Spartans did not score in the final 10 minutes of the first half against the Wolf Pack. “Nevada committed two players to the ball and their defensive length and pressure were good. We never set the threshold that Nevada set. The aggressor wins and we did not rise to the necessary level”.
7 San Jose State (11-6, 2-2) also lost to Boise State, 67-64, last week. Boise State’s Marcus Shaver connected on a 3-pointer with two seconds left for the Broncos’ win. 4 (12-4, 2-1). Boise State nearly lost at home after leading 41-29 at halftime.
“We’re leaking oil,” Boise State coach Leon Rice said. “It was getting weird. We couldn’t stop them, we were struggling offensively.”
Shaver finished with just nine points.
“I was really calm (in the last shot),” he said. “I’ve been in that situation a lot. It felt like I was just in the park taking shots.”
The Broncos also beat Utah State, 82-59, at home last Saturday as Tyson Degenhart had 19 points and 10 rebounds. Boise State made 11 of 19 threes.
“Thank you to the fans,” Rice said, referring to the crowd of 12,007 in Boise. “It was a great atmosphere and we had to play a great game to beat them.”
“These types of games are why you play college basketball,” said Boise’s Max Rice, who had 14 points, five rebounds and five assists and made four threes. “It was a sold out arena against a team that is super competitive.”
No. 5 Utah State (13-3, 2-1) started its week with a 77-65 win at Air Force on Tuesday. The Aggies led 44-28 at halftime and were 21 of 27 from the line to go along with six threes. Utah State will come to Reno to take on Nevada this Friday at the Lawlor Events Center.
No. 6 UNLV (12-3, 1-2) defeated New Mexico, 84-77, last Saturday behind 25 points from Elijah Harkless.
“That atmosphere (15,424 fans in Albuquerque) just makes everybody competitive,” UNLV coach Kevin Kruger said. “Everybody was fighting. We got off to a slow start (down 43-38 at halftime), but the guys took a deep breath.”
8 Colorado State (9-8, 1-3) bounced back from an 11-point loss at Nevada last Wednesday to beat Fresno State, 79-57, three nights later. Isaiah Stevens had 16 points, six assists for the Rams. The Rams had 26 assists on 29 field goals and made 14 of 29 three-pointers. Colorado State had lost four straight and 6 of 8.
Air Force No. 10 (9-7, 0-3) and No. 11 Wyoming (5-10, 0-3) climbs to the bottom of the standings and both are still looking for their first league win.
The Nevada Appeal’s Mountain West men’s basketball rankings for the week of Jan. 9:
1. SAN DIEGO STATE (12-3, 3-0): Last week: San Diego State 80, Wyoming 75 (Jan. 7). This week: Nevada at San Diego State (Tuesday); New Mexico at San Diego State (Saturday).
2. NEVADA (14-3, 4-0): Last week: Nevada 80, Colorado State 69 (Jan. 4); Nevada 67, San Jose State 40 (Jan. 7). This week: Nevada at San Diego State (Tuesday); Utah State at Nevada (Friday).
3. NEW MEXICO (15-2, 2-2): Last week: Fresno State 71, New Mexico 67 (Jan. 3); UNLV 84, New Mexico 77 (Jan. 7); New Mexico 82, Oral Roberts 75 (Jan. 9). This week: New Mexico at San Diego State (Saturday).
4. BOISE STATE (12-4, 2-1): Last week: Boise State 67, San Jose State 64 (Jan. 3); Boise State 82, Utah State 59 (Jan. 7). This week: Boise State at UNLV (Wednesday); Boise State at Wyoming (Saturday).
5. UTAH STATE (13-3, 2-1): Last week: Utah State 77, Air Force 65 (Jan. 3), Boise State 82, Utah State 59 (Jan. 7). This week: Wyoming at Utah State (Tuesday); Utah State at Nevada (Friday).
6. UNLV (12-3, 1-2): Last week: UNLV 84, New Mexico 77 (Jan. 7). This week: Boise State at UNLV (Wednesday); Colorado State at UNLV (Saturday).
7. SAN JOSE STATE (11-6, 2-2): Last week: Boise State 67, San Jose State 64 (Jan. 3), Nevada 67, San Jose State 40 (Jan. 7). This week: Fresno State at San Jose State (Tuesday).
8. COLORADO STATE (9-8, 1-3): Last week: Nevada 80, Colorado State 69 (Jan. 4); Colorado State 79, Fresno State 57 (Jan. 7). This week: Air Force at Colorado State (Tuesday); Colorado State at UNLV (Saturday).
9. FRESNO STATE (6-9, 2-2): Last week: Fresno State 71, New Mexico 67 (Jan. 3); Colorado State 79, Fresno State 57 (Jan. 7). This week: Fresno State at San Jose State (Tuesday); Air Force at Fresno State (Saturday).
10. AIR FORCE (9-7, 0-3): Last week: Utah State 77, Air Force 65 (Jan. 3). This week: Air Force at Colorado State (Tuesday); Air Force at Fresno State (Saturday).
11. WYOMING (5-10, 0-3): Last week: San Diego State 80, Wyoming 75 (Jan. 7). This week: Wyoming at Utah State (Tuesday); Boise State at Wyoming (Saturday).