Mountain West rankings: Pack rides five-game win streak

Will Baker (50) celebrates during Nevada’s game against Loyola Marymount on Dec. 18, 2021. (Photo: Nevada Athletics)

Will Baker (50) celebrates during Nevada’s game against Loyola Marymount on Dec. 18, 2021. (Photo: Nevada Athletics)

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The Nevada Wolf Pack is now one of the hottest men’s basketball teams in the Mountain West.
The Wolf Pack won its fifth game in a row on Saturday, beating Loyola Marymount, 68-63, in front of 6,689 fans at Lawlor Events Center.
“We played tough,” said Pack point guard Grant Sherfield. “We had to dig deep to get this win. It was tough but we got it done.”
The Wolf Pack, which also whipped Minnesota-Duluth on Tuesday, 98-62, is now 6-4 and No. 6 in this week’s Nevada Appeal Mountain West men’s basketball rankings. The five victories in a row have come by an average of 18 points a game. Nevada is now 4-1 at home and will host Grand Canyon on Tuesday (7 p.m.) at Lawlor.
“This was a good test for us,” Nevada coach Steve Alford said of the victory over Loyola Marymount.
It was Sherfield who helped the Pack pass the test. The 6-foot-2 point guard, who also had 28 points, 12 rebounds and nine assists against Minnesota-Duluth and was named Mountain West Player of the Week, played all but three minutes of the game against Loyola Marymount. He struggled in the first half but rebounded to rescue the Pack, scoring 20 of his 24 points in the second half. At one point in the second half he scored 12 of the Wolf Pack’s 14 points over a nine-minute stretch. Sherfield was 1-of-6 from the floor for four points in the first half and 5-of-8 in the second half to finish with 24 points, four assists and two steals.
“Grant figured things out at the half,” Alford said. “They trapped him but he really got loose in the second half.”
Will Baker had nine points and Desmond Cambridge had eight as the Pack built a 35-28 lead at the break. Baker (four) and Cambridge (2) had just six points combined in the second half as the Wolf Pack saw its 47-37 lead with 13:26 to play shrink to a 63-63 tie with 1:39 to go. Cambridge missed five of his seven 3-point shots and finished with just 10 points.
“Dez missed open shots he normally makes,” Alford said. “To win a game when he doesn’t shoot the ball well, we showed growth.”
No. 1 Colorado State (10-0) did not play last week while No. 2 San Diego State (7-3) got past Saint Mary’s, 63-53, in Phoenix.
The Aztecs led just 26-25 at the half but never trailed in the second half. Adam Seiko had a pair of 3-pointers 32 seconds apart for a 34-28 lead with 18 minutes to play and the Aztecs held the lead the rest of the way. San Diego State was 7-of-10 on threes with Seiko going 4-for-4.
No. 3 Fresno State (9-2) whipped Cal Poly, 83-48, as Orlando Robinson and Junior Ballard each had 18 points. The Bulldogs’ 9-2 start (7-0 at home) is their best since 2006 (also 9-2).
“We shared the ball,” Fresno State coach Justin Hutson said. “It was a nice team victory.”
No. 4 Wyoming (9-1) also was idle last week while No. 5 Boise State (8-4) beat both Santa Clara, 72-60, and Montana Tech, 88-57. Freshman Tyson Degenhart had 33 points in the two games combined while Mladen Armus had 24 points and 27 rebounds.
No. 7 Utah State (8-4) beat Weber State, 95-80, on Wednesday as Steven Ashworth had 27 points and Brandon Horvath and Brock Miller each had 20. The Aggies were 15-of-30 on threes. Utah State, though, then lost to Iowa, 94-75, in Sioux Falls, S.D. on Saturday, missing 15-of-23 3-pointers.
No. 8 UNLV (7-5) whipped Omaha, 84-71, for its third victory in a row. The Rebels, which trailed 38-35 at halftime, got 26 points from Bryce Hamilton and 16 points and 12 rebounds from Royce Hamm. The 6-foot-9 Hamm, who played four years at Texas in a reserve role, is averaging 8.8 points and 10 rebounds as a UNLV starter.
No. 9 San Jose State (6-5) dumped Portland, 90-78, as Trey Smith had 24 points on eight 3-pointers (14 attempts). The Spartans, who had six players score in double figures, had a school-record 17 threes on 33 attempts.
No. 10 New Mexico lost to SMU, 90-72, in front of 8,394 fans at home in The Pit despite 25 points from Jamal Mashburn Jr.
No. 11 Air Force (7-3) was dumped 68-46 by Arkansas State on the road after an 11-day layoff. The Falcons started 7-1 this year but have since lost to Montana and Arkansas State by a combined 40 points.
The Nevada Appeal’s Mountain West men’s basketball rankings for the week of Dec. 20:
1. COLORADO STATE (10-0, 0-0). Last week: No games. This week: Colorado State at Alabama (Tuesday).
2. SAN DIEGO STATE (7-3, 0-0). Last week: San Diego State 63, Saint Mary’s 53. This week: UC San Diego at San Diego State (Wednesday).
3. FRESNO STATE (9-2, 0-0). Last week: Fresno State 83, Cal Poly 48. This week: Fresno State at Utah (Tuesday), Fresno State at Weber State (Thursday).
4. WYOMING (9-1, 0-0). Last week: No games. This week: Wyoming at Stanford (Wednesday), Wyoming vs. Liberty or Northern Iowa at Honolulu (Thursday), Wyoming vs. TBA at Honolulu (Saturday).
5. BOISE STATE (8-4, 0-0). Last week: Boise State 72, Santa Clara 60 ... Boise State 88, Montana Tech 57. This week: Boise State at Washington State (Wednesday).
6. NEVADA (6-4, 0-0). Last week: Nevada 98, Minnesota-Duluth 62 ... Nevada 68, Loyola Marymount 63. This week: Grand Canyon at Nevada (Tuesday).
7. UTAH STATE (8-4, 0-0). Last week: Utah State 95, Weber State 80 ... Iowa 94, Utah State 75. This week: Portland State at Utah State (Tuesday).
8. UNLV (7-5, 0-0). Last week: UNLV 84, Omaha 71. This week: San Diego at UNLV (Wednesday).
9. SAN JOSE STATE (6-4, 0-0). Last week: San Jose State 90, Portland 78. This week: Santa Clara at San Jose State Tuesday).
10. NEW MEXICO (6-6, 0-0). Last week: SMU 90, New Mexico 72. This week: Norfolk State at New Mexico (Tuesday).
11. AIR FORCE (7-3, 0-0). Last week: Arkansas State 68, Air Force 46. This week: Air Force at Tarleton State (Tuesday).


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