You can add Fresno State Bulldogs coach Justin Hutson to the Nevada Wolf Pack’s fan club.
“A very experienced group,” Hutson told the Fresno Bee after a 74-64 loss to the Wolf Pack men’s basketball team on Saturday night in Fresno. “The adjective for them is tough, mentally and physically.”
The decisive victory over the Bulldogs allowed the Wolf Pack (16-1, 3-1) to remain atop the Nevada Appeal Mountain West men’s basketball rankings this week.
Fresno State (12-4, 3-1) stayed at No. 2.
“They don’t beat themselves,” said Hutson of Nevada. “They’re big, they’re tough and they go. We needed to be a little more physical.”
The Wolf Pack, which plays at Boise State on Tuesday, also whipped the No. 12 San Jose State Spartans 92-53 earlier in the week. Nevada’s 16-1 start to the season is its best since the 2006-07 team started 17-1.
Caleb Martin had 50 points combined for the Wolf Pack against Fresno State (27 points) and San Jose State (23). Jordan Caroline had 19 points in each game.
Fresno State, which was just 10-of-17 at the free throw line against the Wolf Pack, also beat Utah State 78-77 on the road last week. Braxton Huggins, a 6-foot-4 senior, had 33 points against Utah State and 25 more against the Wolf Pack with 13 3-pointers combined in the two games.
The UNLV Rebels trounced New Mexico (80-69) and Air Force (87-64) last week to move up two spots to No. 3. The Rebels (9-6, 3-0) got 25 points from 6-6 senior Kris Clyburn to beat New Mexico last Tuesday in Albuquerque, just three nights after the Lobos whipped Nevada (85-58) on the same floor.
“It’s really hard to win here,” UNLV coach Marvin Menzies told the Las Vegas Review-Journal. “Trust me, I understand that better than anybody (Menzies is a former New Mexico State head coach). You have to have a whole team effort.”
New Mexico led the Rebels 42-35 at the half. The Rebels, though, got 12 points each from Amauri Hardy and Joel Ntambwe and 14 from Noah Robotham.
UNLV, one of the original members of the Mountain West in 1999-2000, is 3-0 in Mountain West games for the first time in school history.
Utah State (12-5, 2-2) dropped a spot to No. 4 after losing to Fresno State (78-77) at home and winning at Wyoming (71-55) last week. It’s the Aggies’ first victory at Wyoming since Feb. 16, 1962.
Sam Merrill had 22 points against Wyoming and 16 against Fresno State. Merrill, though, was just 3-of-10 from the floor against Fresno.
Boise State (8-8, 3-0) moved up a notch to No. 5 after beating San Jose State 87-64. The Broncos have won three games in a row and four of their last five.
The Broncos made all 12 of their free throws and 15-of-31 3-pointers against the Spartans.
“They (the Broncos) keep improving and they’re playing together,” Broncos coach Leon Rice said recently. “And, boy, they’re scrappy and tough. How awesome is this team to watch? There’s a lot to be proud of with our team right now.”
Colorado State (7-10, 2-2) jumped up two spots to No. 6 with big victories over Air Force (87-64) and New Mexico (91-76) last week. Nico Carvacho, a 6-11 senior, had 16 points and eight rebounds in just 19 minutes against New Mexico and had 27 points and nine boards against Air Force.
New Mexico (8-8, 2-2) fell three spots to No. 7 after losing to UNLV (80-69) and Colorado State (91-76). Anthony Mathis, who had 27 points against Nevada on Jan. 5, had 25 combined in two games last week.
The Lobos missed 8-of-10 3-pointers against UNLV and were 12-of-29 against Colorado State.
San Diego State (9-7, 1-2) dropped a spot to No. 8 after beating Wyoming (84-54) and losing to Air Force (62-48). Jalen McDaniels, a 6-10 sophomore, played well with 40 points and 23 rebounds combined in the two games. He had a double-double in both games and now has four this season. The Aztecs have now lost to Air Force four times over the past eight seasons.
Air Force (6-10, 1-3) climbed two spots to No. 9. In addition to beating San Diego State the Falcons also lost to Colorado State (87-64) last week. Lavelle Scottie, a 6-7 junior, had 16 points and 11 rebounds against San Diego State and 20 points against Colorado State.
Wyoming (4-13, 0-4) dropped a spot to No. 10 after losing to San Diego state (84-54) and Utah State (71-55). The Cowboys’ 30-point loss to San Diego State is its largest since a 39-point loss to the Aztecs in 2011.
Wyoming is in jeopardy of not winning at least 10 games in a season for the first time since 1973-74.
“At the end of the day I’m a fighter,” Wyoming coach Allen Edwards said. “Like I told our staff, this is what we’ve got and we’ve got to figure something out.
“We’ve still got a lot of season left. And you would say, ‘Well, what are you fighting for?’ We’re fighting to get better.”
San Jose State (3-12, 0-3) was blown out by Nevada (92-53) and Boise State (87-64) last week to fall to the bottom of the rankings at No. 11.
The Nevada Appeal Mountain West men’s basketball rankings for the week of Jan. 14-20 . . .
1. NEVADA (16-1, 3-1): Corey Henson made his first two starts of the season last week and responded with 21 points on five 3-pointers in the two games. Tre’Shawn Thurman played just 17 minutes and scored two points combined in the two games after never playing fewer than 17 minutes in any of the Pack’s first 15 games. Last week: Nevada 92, San Jose State 53 . . . Nevada 74, Fresno State 64
This week: Nevada at Boise State (Tuesday), Air Force at Nevada (Saturday).
2. FRESNO STATE (12-4, 3-1): Sam Bittner, a 6-6 senior, had nine points and eight rebounds in a win over Utah State and then did not score in 36 minutes in the loss to Nevada. Last week: Fresno State 78, Utah State 77 . . . Nevada 74, Fresno State 64. This week: Fresno State at Boise State (Saturday).
3. UNLV (9-6, 3-0): Kris Clyburn, a 6-6 senior, leads UNLV in scoring this year a 13.3 points a game. Clyburn also averages 5.2 rebounds a game. Last week: UNLV 80, New Mexico 69. This week: UNLV at Air Force (Wednesday), San Jose State at UNLV (Saturday).
4. UTAH STATE (12-5, 2-2): Neemias Queta had 30 points and 17 rebounds combined in two games last week. Last week: Fresno State 78, Utah State 77 . . . Utah State 71, Wyoming 55. This week: Utah State at San Jose State (Wednesday), Colorado State at Utah State (Saturday).
5. BOISE STATE (8-8, 3-0): The Broncos had five players score in double figures against San Jose State last week. Last week: Boise State 87, San Jose State 64. This week: Nevada at Boise State (Tuesday), Fresno State at Boise State (Saturday).
6. COLORADO STATE (7-10, 2-2): Hyron Edwards, a 6-foot junior, had a season-high 20 points in 28 minutes against New Mexico. It was just Edwards’ seventh game this season. The transfer from Texas Tech was 2-of-18 from the floor combined in his first three games. Last week: Colorado State 87, Air Force 64 . . . Colorado State 91, New Mexico 76. This week: Colorado State at Utah State (Saturday).
7. NEW MEXICO (8-8, 2-2): Vance Jackson had 32 points combined off the bench last week in two games. Last week: UNLV 80, New Mexico 69 . . . Colorado State 91, New Mexico 76. This week: New Mexico at San Diego State (Tuesday), Wyoming at New Mexico (Saturday).
8. SAN DIEGO STATE (9-7, 1-2): Matt Mitchell and Jordan Schakel combined for 34 points and 13 rebounds in a win over Wyoming but combined for just nine points in a loss to Air Force four days later. Last week: San Diego State 84, Wyoming 54 . . . Air Force 62, San Diego State 48. This week: New Mexico at San Diego State (Tuesday).
9. AIR FORCE (6-10, 1-3): Ryan Swan, a 6-7 junior, combined for 25 points and 21 rebounds in two games last week. Last week: Colorado State 87, Air Force 64 . . . Air Force 62, San Diego State 48. This week: UNLV at Air Force (Wednesday), Air Force at Nevada (Saturday).
10. WYOMING (4-13, 0-4): Justin James had 45 points on 15-of-35 shooting in two games last week. “J.J. is taking on a lot,” Wyoming coach Allen Edwards said last week. Last week: San Diego State 84, Wyoming 54 . . . Utah State 71, Wyoming 55. This week: Wyoming at New Mexico (Saturday).
11. SAN JOSE STATE (3-12, 0-3): Zach Chappell, a 6-3 freshman, had season highs in points (12), assists (seven) and minutes played (29) against Boise State. Last week: Nevada 92, San Jose State 53 . . . Boise State 87, San Jose State 64. This week: Utah State at San Jose State (Wednesday), San Jose State at UNLV (Saturday).