Fresno State’s Orlando Robinson scored 55 points in two wins last week. (Photo: Fresno State)
Orlando Robinson and the Fresno State Bulldogs are attracting attention in the Mountain West this season.
The 7-foot center scored 55 points combined in victories over San Jose State and UNLV last week as the Bulldogs improved to 12-4 overall and 2-1 in the Mountain West. Fresno State, which plays at Nevada’s Lawlor Events Center this Friday night, is No. 4 in this week’s Nevada Appeal Mountain West men’s basketball rankings.
“I was really focused,” said Robinson after scoring 31 points with 12 rebounds and four assists in a 79-59 win over San Jose State last Tuesday. “Every day in practice I try to have that focus mentally.”
Robinson, who went to Centennial High School in Las Vegas, followed his performance against San Jose State three nights later with 24 points and 11 rebounds in a 73-68 win at UNLV. The junior was named the Mountain West Player of the Week on Monday and has now scored 22 or more points in his last four games and leads the Mountain West in scoring (19.8) and is fourth in rebounding (8.4) and blocks (1.5).
“I’ve been around Orlando now for three years so it’s good to see him get to the goals he wants,” said Anthony Holland, who scored 20 points against San Jose State and 16 against UNLV. “He’s taken a real big jump.”
Robinson has one goal this year above all others.
“I try to get my team better and build a championship team,” he said.
No. 1 San Diego State had both its games last week (at Wyoming and New Mexico) postponed because of health and safety protocols. The Aztecs (10-3, 2-0) have not played since a 79-49 win over Colorado State on Jan. 8 and already have had their game this Tuesday against UNLV postponed. San Diego State will return to the court Saturday in a key matchup against No. 3 Boise State.
No. 2 Colorado State (13-1, 3-1) rebounded after its loss at San Diego State to beat Utah State (77-72) and San Jose State (78-42) last week. David Roddy had 24 points and Isaiah Stevens had 22 against Utah State.
The Rams are now an eye-opening 23-0 in their all-time series with San Jose State. Head coach Niko Medved saw his team race to a 35-17 halftime lead at San Jose State and then told them to put an emphasis on defense.
“We needed to defend in the second half at maybe a higher level,” Medved said. “Our mentality was good. We definitely didn’t play the scoreboard. We were locked in.”
Colorado State outscored Utah State 40-17 in its five-point victory three days earlier. “They (Colorado State) killed us in the paint,” said Utah State’s Justin Bean, who had 14 points against the Rams. “But more than anything, our shots (4-of-18 on threes) weren’t falling. We were kind of in our own heads a little bit.”
No. 8 Utah State also lost to Wyoming, 71-69, on Saturday to fall to 10-7, 1-3.
Bean had 19 points and 13 rebounds in the two-point loss to Wyoming but the Aggies struggled from beyond the arc again, missing 20-of-26 threes.
“We have to figure out how to turn these defeats into wins,“ Utah State coach Ryan Odom said.
No. 5 Wyoming (12-2, 1-0) got 21 points from Hunter Maldonado and 23 from Graham Ike to beat Utah State. The game was Wyoming’s first since Christmas Day.
“Ike and Maldonado kind of took turns punching us,” Odom said.
Utah State’s three losses in the Mountain West, to Colorado State, Wyoming and Air Force, have all been by five points or less.
“We lost on the last possession three times in conference,” Utah State’s Rylan Jones said. “We have to find a way to finish.”
Wyoming’s victory over Utah State was on a basket by Ike with three seconds to play. Cowboys’ coach Jeff Linder, though, credited the win to his team’s defense.
“The way we finished with three straight stops was special,” Linder said. “I challenged the guys at the half because I thought Utah State had better energy late in the first half. What can I say about our guys? We haven’t had a whole practice (because of health and safety protocols) and for us to come out with that effort was excellent.”
Wyoming will play three times this week, starting with a game Monday night at Nevada. The Cowboys will also play San Jose State (Wednesday) and New Mexico (Saturday) at home.
No. 3 Boise State (12-4, 3-0) whipped Nevada (85-70) and grinded out a 71-63 win over New Mexico last week. Marcus Shaver had 28 points against Nevada and 18 against New Mexico. The Broncos, though, struggled against New Mexico, missing 14-of-20 threes and 17-of-38 free throws.
No. 6 Nevada (8-6, 2-1) recovered from its 15-point loss to Boise State on Wednesday with a 75-68 win at Air Force on Saturday.
Pack coach Steve Alford came away impressed with Boise State after the one-sided loss.
“Boise is really physical,” Alford said. “They really defended us well and we had a hard time defending them. They played much better than we did. They looked stronger and faster than we did.”
No. 7 UNLV (9-7, 1-2) split its two games last week, whipping No. 11 New Mexico (85-56) and losing to Fresno State (73-68). Donovan Williams had 29 points on 10-of-12 shooting against New Mexico and Bryce Hamilton had 24 against Fresno State.
No. 11 San Jose State lost a pair of games last week, 79-59 to Fresno State and 78-42 to Colorado State. Trey Anderson had 18 points (four threes) against Fresno while Omari Moore had 15 against Colorado State.
The Spartans (7-7, 0-2) will play three games this week. They will play twice against UNLV (Monday at home and Saturday in Las Vegas) sandwiched around a game at Wyoming on Wednesday.
The Mountain West now heads into its busiest conference week of the year so far with 13 league games. UNLV, Boise State, Wyoming, Air Force and San Jose State will each play three games this week.
The Nevada Appeal’s Mountain West men’s basketball rankings for the week of Jan. 17:
1. SAN DIEGO STATE (10-3, 2-0). Last week: No games. This week: at San Diego State (Saturday).
2. COLORADO STATE (13-1, 3-1). Last week: Colorado State 77, Utah State 72 ... Colorado State 78, San Jose State 42. This week: vs. New Mexico (Wednesday), at Air Force (Saturday).
3. BOISE STATE (12-4, 3-0). Last week: Boise State 85, Nevada 70 ... Boise State 71, New Mexico 63. This week: vs. Air Force (Tuesday), at Utah State (Thursday), at San Diego State (Saturday).
4. FRESNO STATE (12-4, 2-1). Last week: Fresno State 79, San Jose State 59 ... Fresno State 73, UNLV 68. This week: vs. Utah State (Tuesday), at Nevada (Friday).
5. WYOMING (12-2, 1-0). Last week: Wyoming 71, Utah State 69. This week: at Nevada (Monday), vs. San Jose State (Wednesday), vs. New Mexico (Saturday).
6. NEVADA (8-6, 2-1). Last week: Boise State 85, Nevada 70 ... Nevada 75, Air Force 68. This week: vs. Wyoming (Monday), vs. Fresno State (Friday).
7. UNLV (9-7, 1-2). Last week: UNLV 85, New Mexico 56 ... Fresno State 73, UNLV 68. This week: at San Jose State (Monday), at Air Force (Thursday), vs. San Jose State (Saturday).
8. UTAH STATE (10-7, 1-3). Last week: Colorado State 77, Utah State 72 ... Wyoming 71, Utah State 69. This week: at Fresno State (Tuesday), vs. Boise State (Thursday).
9. AIR FORCE (8-6, 1-2). Last week: Nevada 75, Air Force 68. This week: at Boise State (Tuesday), vs. UNLV (Thursday), vs. Colorado State (Saturday).
10. NEW MEXICO (7-10, 0-4). Last week: UNLV 85, New Mexico 56 ... Boise State 71, New Mexico 63. This week: at Colorado State (Wednesday), at Wyoming (Saturday).
11. SAN JOSE STATE (7-7, 0-2). Last week: Fresno State 79, San Jose State 59 ... Colorado State 78, San Jose State 42. This week: vs. UNLV (Monday), at Wyoming (Wednesday), at UNLV (Saturday).