The Nevada Wolf Pack retained its No. 1 ranking in this week’s Nevada Appeal Mountain West men’s basketball rankings with a convincing 100-60 victory over the Colorado State Rams last Wednesday night at Lawlor Events Center.
The rest of the Mountain West last week, though, was mired in failure, mediocrity and controversy. And that, apparently, includes the Mountain West officials who now are helping to decide conference games.
A blown call — a backcourt violation on New Mexico — with 31 seconds to play led to a 68-66 Utah State victory over the Lobos in Albuquerque, N.M. on Saturday. The Mountain West issued a statement after the game admitting the error, saying “the whistle for a backcourt violation was incorrect.”
That didn’t help New Mexico, which dropped a spot to No. 7 in this week’s rankings with a pair of losses last week to Utah State and UNLV (74-58).
“I feel like Sean Payton,” New Mexico coach Paul Weir said, referring to the New Orleans Saints coach whose NFL team was the victim of a controversial non-call on an apparent pass interference late in the NFC championship game against the Los Angeles Rams the previous weekend.
The incorrect call in question in Albuquerque came when New Mexico, leading 66-65, was whistled for a backcourt violation. Anthony Mathis passed the ball to teammate Vance Jackson along the mid-court stripe, prompting the incorrect call. The call led to a 3-pointer by Utah State’s Abel Porter with just under two seconds to play.
“It just looked weird,” New Mexico’s Jackson said. “I hopped over (the mid-court line) to make sure it wasn’t a backcourt call. I guess it’s one of those New Orleans Saints calls.”
Utah State didn’t get a trip to the Super Bowl because of the incorrect call like the Rams but the Aggies (15-5, 5-2) did jump up a spot to No. 2 in this week’s rankings.
Sam Merrill, who had 22 points for Utah State, made the game-winning pass to Porter from the top of the key.
“The losing is taking a toll,” said Weir, whose Lobos have now lost five of its last six games to fall to 9-11, 3-5 on the year after a stunning 85-58 win over Nevada on Jan. 5.
Fresno State (14-5, 5-2) fell a spot to No. 3 after beating San Diego State, 66-62, and losing 74-65 to Colorado State. Fresno State, which had won five of six games before losing to Colorado State, had beaten the No. 9 Rams at home 78-67 on Jan. 5.
San Diego State (11-8, 3-3) moved up a spot to No. 4 after losing a close (66-62) game to Fresno State and then whipping UNLV, 94-77.
Jalen McDaniels, a 6-10 sophomore, had 19 points and 10 rebounds against Fresno State and 30 points and 13 rebounds against UNLV and was named the Mountain West’s Player of the Week on Monday.
“He works like crazy in practice and like crazy away from practice,” San Diego State coach Brian Dutcher said of McDaniels. “We ran everything through Jalen (against UNLV), put the ball in his hands and he produced.”
UNLV (11-8, 5-2) beat New Mexico (74-58) and lost to San Diego State (94-77) in an up-and-down week to fall a spot to No. 5. Nick Blair, a walk-on who’s getting extended playing time lately because of injuries to Shakur Juiston and Cheichna Dembele, had 26 points against New Mexico and 13 against San Diego State. Blair, a Bishop Gorman High graduate who transferred from Idaho before last season, has played 99 minutes and scored 55 points over the Rebels’ last four games.
“Guys like that (Blair), you are really happy for them when they have success because he’s paid the price,” UNLV coach Marvin Menzies said after the game.
Air Force (9-11, 4-4) beat Boise State (74-60) and San Jose State (73-71 in two overtimes) to jump up two spots to No. 6. The Falcons have won four-of-five, with their only loss during that stretch being a competitive 67-52 defeat at Nevada.
A 3-pointer by Chris Joyce with five seconds left in the second overtime was the difference against the Spartans. Joyce had only scored six points on 2-of-11 shooting before making the game-winning shot. Lavelle Scottie (22 points) and A.J. Walker (18 points) led the Falcons over Boise State. Joyce also had 12 points and seven rebounds.
Boise State (9-11, 4-3) fell a spot to No. 8 after beating Wyoming (77-52) and losing to Air Force (74-60). R.J. Williams scored 18 points on 7-of-8 shooting in 19 minutes off the bench against Wyoming.
The Broncos were 9-of-26 on threes against Wyoming, a vast improvement after going 14-of-67 over its last three games combined.
“I told the team, ‘Guys, we’re pregnant with threes and ready to deliver a lot of them,’” Boise State coach Leon Rice said. “They might even be twins. I don’t know when the due date is but it’s soon and it’s coming.”
The bottom three teams in the rankings (No. 9 Colorado State, No. 10 Wyoming and No. 11 San Jose State) remained the same as last week.
Colorado State (8-12, 3-4), though, rebounded nicely from a 40-point loss at Nevada by beating Fresno State 74-65 three days later at home. The Rams are showing improvement lately with three wins in their last five games after losing nine of 10 and five in a row. Their only two losses in their last five games were to No. 1 Nevada and No. 2 Utah State, both on the road.
Wyoming (5-15, 1-6) did earn its first Mountain West victory last week by beating San Jose State, 59-46. Justin James had 20 points in the victory. James, though, had just seven points and shot 2-of-17 (1-of-9 on threes) three days later in a 77-52 loss to Boise State.
San Jose State (3-16, 0-7) lost to Wyoming 59-46 and Air Force 73-71 in double overtime to extend its losing streak to 10 games. The Spartans have now gone eight consecutive games without scoring at least 65 points in regulation, since an 88-80 loss at California on Dec. 21.
The Nevada Appeal Mountain West men’s basketball rankings for the week of Jan. 28-Feb. 3 ...
1. NEVADA (19-1, 6-1): The Wolf Pack is fifth in the nation with an average of 44.5 points in the second half of games this season and 74th with 36.1 points a game in the first half. Last week: Nevada 100, Colorado State 60. This week: Nevada at UNLV (Tuesday), Boise State at Nevada (Saturday).
2. UTAH STATE (15-5, 5-2): Brock Miller had four threes against New Mexico and is now 13-of-24 on 3-pointers in his last three games. Last week: Utah State 68, New Mexico 66 (Saturday). This week: San Jose State at Utah State (Wednesday), UNLV at Utah State (Saturday).
3. FRESNO STATE (14-5, 5-2): The Bulldogs beat San Diego State last week after trailing by 20 in the first half. Last week: Fresno State 66, San Diego State 62 (Tuesday), Colorado State 74, Fresno State 65 (Saturday). This week: Fresno State at Wyoming (Wednesday), New Mexico at Fresno State (Saturday).
4. SAN DIEGO STATE (11-8, 3-3): Jeremy Hemsley scored 27 points combined last week against Fresno State and UNLV after scoring just 10 total points in his three previous games combined. Last week: Fresno State 66, San Diego State 62 (Tuesday), San Diego State 94, UNLV 77 (Saturday). This week: Air Force at San Diego State (Wednesday), San Diego State at San Jose State (Saturday).
5. UNLV (11-8, 5-2): The Rebels played New Mexico last week for the final 30 minutes of the game with just two officials on the court after referee Dave Hall broke his finger after being kicked accidentally by UNLV’s Joel Ntambwe midway through the first half. Last week: UNLV 74, New Mexico 58 (Tuesday), San Diego State 94, UNLV 77 (Saturday). This week: Nevada at UNLV (Tuesday), UNLV at Utah State (Saturday).
6. AIR FORCE (9-11, 4-4): Air Force beat San Jose State in two overtimes last week despite shooting just 11-of-47 on threes. Last week: Air Force 74, Boise State 60 (Tuesday), Air Force 73, San Jose State 71, 2 OT (Saturday). This week: Air Force at San Diego State (Wednesday), Colorado State at Air Force (Saturday).
7. NEW MEXICO (9-11, 3-5): Anthony Mathis had zero assists last week in two games and has not had an assist in three of his last four games. Last week: UNLV 74, New Mexico 58 (Tuesday), Utah State 68, New Mexico 66 (Saturday). This week: New Mexico at Fresno State (Saturday).
8. BOISE STATE (9-11, 4-3): The Broncos held Wyoming to just 14 points in the first half last week. Last week: Air Force 74, Boise State 60 (Tuesday), Boise State 77, Wyoming 52 (Saturday). This week: Boise State at Colorado State (Tuesday), Boise State at Nevada (Saturday).
9. COLORADO STATE (8-12, 3-4): The Rams allowed 58 points in the second half in a 100-60 loss to Nevada last week and then held Fresno State to 65 for the entire game in a 74-65 win. Last week: Nevada 100, Colorado State 60 (Wednesday), Colorado State 74, Fresno State 65 (Saturday). This week: Boise State at Colorado State (Tuesday), Colorado State at Air Force (Saturday).
10. WYOMING (5-15, 1-6): Wyoming was 14-of-17 inside the 3-point circle in a win over San Jose State. Last week: Wyoming 59, San Jose State 46 (Wednesday), Boise State 77, Wyoming 52 (Saturday). This week: Fresno State at Wyoming (Wednesday).
11. SAN JOSE STATE (3-16, 0-7): Noah Baumann, a 6-5 sophomore, scored 20 points combined in two games last week but was just 7-of-28 from the field (5-of-14 on threes). Last week: Wyoming 59, San Jose State 46 (Wednesday), Air Force 73, San Jose State 71, 2 OT (Saturday). This week: San Jose State at Utah State (Wednesday), San Diego State at San Jose State (Saturday).