The Mountain West will be without one of its best players for at least a month.
The Fresno State Bulldogs won a pair of games last week to climb a spot to No. 2 in this week’s Nevada Appeal Mountain West men’s basketball rankings but the news off the court isn’t so good. Bulldogs senior Deshon Tayor, who was averaging 18 points, 5.1 assists 3.6 rebounds and 1.8 steals, dislocated his left elbow in practice last Friday and will be out 4-6 weeks.
“Everybody has that responsibility to pick up their game,” Bulldogs guard Noah Blackwell said.
“It’s tough,” Bulldogs forward Nate Grimes said. “But next man up. We know Deshon is a very good player, the best player on the team. But when he comes back we know he’ll come back 10 times better.”
Taylor had nine points, eight rebounds and five assists in the Bulldogs’ 71-52 win over Weber State last Wednesday. Fresno State, now 7-2, then beat Long Beach State 92-71 three days later without Taylor.
“They all rallied behind Deshon,” Fresno State coach Justin Hutson said.
Blackwell, who played his first two seasons for Long Beach State, had 22 points, six assists, six rebounds and three steals in the win against his former school. Grimes had 15 points against Long Beach State and 14 against Weber State.
The Nevada Wolf Pack improved to 10-0 with a pair of gritty victories over Arizona State (72-66) and Grand Canyon (74-66) on the road to remain on top of the rankings. The Wolf Pack trailed Arizona State 36-24 at halftime and found itself behind 11-0 five minutes into the game against Grand Canyon.
Jordan Caroline keyed both victories with 16 points and eight rebounds against Arizona State and 22 points and 14 rebounds against Grand Canyon.
“It was our worst game of the year,” Nevada coach Eric Musselman said after the win over Grand Canyon in Phoenix on Sunday.
Utah State (8-2) dropped at spot to No. 3 after a 95-80 loss to BYU and a 76-67 win over Weber State. Neemias Queta, a 6-foot-11 center from Portugal, had 13 points, seven rebounds, three assists and three blocks against Weber State after scoring 16 points with eight rebounds, three steals and two blocks against BYU.
“Down in Provo (against BYU) we just didn’t play our style of basketball,” Utah State junior Sam Merrill said. “We didn’t move the ball very well, we didn’t defend like we normally do.”
Merrill, who’s averaging 20.6 points a game, had 17 against BYU and 19 against Weber State in the Aggies’ two games against their in-state rivals.
San Diego State (5-4) lost a pair of games to San Diego (73-61) and California (89-83) but remained at No. 4. It was the Aztecs’ first loss to rival San Diego at home since Dec. 9, 2000.
“They played with great experience,” Aztecs’ coach Brian Dutcher said of San Diego. “They didn’t panic. They played their system, they played their game.”
The Aztecs, though, were tied 83-83 with Cal with just under a minute to go before losing on the road.
Jeremy Hemsley had five 3-pointers (19 points) in the loss to Cal. Jalen McDaniels, a 6-10 sophomore, had 12 points and eight rebounds against San Diego and 20 points and six rebounds against Cal.
UNLV (4-4) moved up a spot to No. 5 after a tough 77-74 loss on the road at Illinois. Joel Ntambwe, a 6-9 freshman from Kinshasa, Congo, had 18 points and seven rebounds in 27 minutes. The Rebels were just 6-of-24 on threes.
Wyoming (3-6) moved up two spots to No. 6 with a 73-64 victory against South Carolina. Justin James had 20 points, 12 rebounds, five assists in 31 minutes for the Cowboys. Jake Hendricks had five 3-pointers and finished with 16 points.
Boise State (3-5) whipped Division II Central Washington 82-62 to remain at No. 7. The Broncos’ R.J. Williams had 14 points and six rebounds in 24 minutes before leaving the game with an ankle injury. The victory snapped a three-game losing streak for Boise State.
New Mexico (4-3) was trounced twice last week, losing 100-65 to New Mexico State and 85-60 to Saint Mary’s. The Lobos fell three spots to No. 8 and have now lost three of their last five games. The Lobos made just 19-of-33 free throws against New Mexico State and have now lost five games in a row to their in-state rivals.
Colorado State (5-5) lost to Arkansas, 98-74, and beat Sam Houston State, 71-65, last week to move up one notch to No. 9. Nico Carvacho, a 6-11 junior, had 12 points and 11 rebounds against Arkansas and 20 points and 19 rebounds against Sam Houston State.
Air Force (4-6) switched places with Colorado State and fell to No. 10 after a 73-65 win over Denver and a 66-61 loss to Army last week. Lavelle Scottie, a 6-7 junior, had 31 points and 24 rebounds combined in the two games.
San Jose State, 2-6, remained at the bottom of the rankings at No. 11, after a 67-65 win over Bethune Cookman at home. The victory snapped a six-game losing streak for the Spartans. Michael Steadman, a 6-10 junior, had a layup with 43 seconds to go to give the Spartans a 66-65 lead and added a free throw with four seconds left.
The Nevada Appeal Mountain West men’s basketball rankings for the week of Dec. 10-16 ...
1. NEVADA (10-0): Caleb Martin was 2-of-18 on 3-pointers and shot just 9-of-29 (31 percent) in the two victories over Arizona State and Grand Canyon and the Wolf Pack still won by six and eight points. Last week: Nevada 72, Arizona State ... Nevada 74, Grand Canyon 66. This week: South Dakota State at Nevada, (Saturday).
2. FRESNO STATE (7-2): Braxton Huggins, a 6-4 senior, had 17 points and seven rebounds against Weber State and 18 points and seven rebounds against Long Beach State. Last week: Fresno State 71, Weber State 52 ... Fresno State 92, Long Beach State 71. This week: No games.
3. UTAH STATE (8-2): Diogo Brito, a 6-5 junior from Portugal, had 13 points and 11 rebounds off the bench against Weber State. Last week: BYU 95, Utah State 80 ... Utah State 76, Weber State 67. This week: Alabama State at Utah State (Saturday).
4. SAN DIEGO STATE (5-4): Jalen McDaniels, a 6-10 sophomore, has gone 0-for-11 on 3-pointers over his last five games. Last week: San Diego 73, San Diego State 61 ... California 89, San Diego State 83. This week: Cal State Dominguez Hills at San Diego State (Wednesday).
5. UNLV (4-4): Cheikh Diong, a 6-11 sophomore from Senegal, had 13 points and 13 rebounds against Illinois. Last week: Illinois 77, UNLV 74. This week: BYU at UNLV (Saturday).
6. WYOMING (3-6): Justin James, a 6-7 senior, had led Wyoming in scoring in all nine games this season. He’s also led in rebounding six times and in assists seven times. Last week: Wyoming 73, South Carolina 64. This week: Denver at Wyoming (Tuesday).
7. BOISE STATE (3-5): R.J. Williams has led Boise State in scoring five times this season and in rebounds four times. Last week: Boise State 82, Central Washington 62. This week: Alabama State at Boise State (Wednesday) ... Boise State at Oregon (Saturday).
8. NEW MEXICO (4-3): The Lobos might be looking to shake up their lineup. No Lobos’ starter had more than nine points in a loss to Saint Mary’s last week and only one starter (Karim Ezzeddine with 11) had more than 10 points against New Mexico State. Last week: New Mexico State 100, New Mexico 65 ... Saint Mary’s 85, New Mexico 60. This week: Colorado at New Mexico (Tuesday) ... Central Arkansas at New Mexico (Sunday).
9. COLORADO STATE (5-5): Rams’ freshmen Anthony Masinton-Bonner and Kendle Moore played well against Arkansas. Masinton-Bonner had 13 points in three threes and Kendle had 16 points. Last week: Arkansas 98, Colorado State 74 ... Colorado State 71, Sam Houston State 65. This week: South Dakota at Colorado State (Sunday).
10. AIR FORCE (4-6): Ryan Swan, a 6-7 junior, had 10 points, four rebounds and three assists in just 19 minutes against Army before fouling out. Last week: Air Force 73, Denver 65 ... Army 66, Air Force 61. This week: No games.
11. SAN JOSE STATE (2-6): Noah Baumann, a 6-5 sophomore, has had three 3-pointers in four of his five games this season. He is shooting 54 percent (15-of-28) on threes after shooting 46 percent (40-of-87) last year as a freshman. Last week: San Jose State 67, Bethune Cookman 65. This week: Northern Arizona at San Jose State (Saturday).