Mountain West Rankings: Nevada Wolf Pack men’s basketball team still rolling
For the Nevada Appeal
About all that has changed in the Mountain West in recent weeks is the calendar.
For the first time this season the Nevada Appeal Mountain West men’s basketball rankings offer no changes from the week before. The top five teams in the conference, led by No. 1 Nevada (24-2, 11-2), were a combined 9-0 last week while the bottom six were a combined 1-10.
The Wolf Pack, which had won 10 games in a row, was simply outclassing the conference before a 65-57 loss to San Diego State. The last seven victories in the Pack’s winning streak had all come by 15 or more points, including an 82-49 one-sided win last Saturday at Wyoming. This is the first time the Wolf Pack had won seven games in a row by 15 or more points in school history. Half of the victories in the Pack’s 10-game winning streak had come by 20 or more points.
“Nevada dominated the ball from the beginning to the end of the game,” Wyoming guard Justin James said last Saturday night.
This season, which started with a 14-game winning streak, is the also the first in Wolf Pack history with more than one winning streak of 10 games or more.
“They’re really talented and they’re old,” Wyoming coach Allen Edwards said. “You can’t really call them kids. They don’t panic. They stay the course. They just go about their business.”
The Wolf Pack didn’t have much reason to panic lately before San Diego State, outscoring opponents on average 86-64 during its 10-game winning streak. The Pack had trailed all of 104 seconds over its last six games combined before facing San Diego State.
“They play together,” Edwards said. “They played hard on both ends of the floor. It was a learning experience for our guys.”
Utah State (21-6, 11-3) remained at No. 2 after beating Wyoming (76-59) and Air Force (76-62) last week. Sam Merrill, who’s second in the Mountain West in scoring at 20.0 points a game, had 39 points with eight 3-pointers combined in the two games.
Fresno State (19-7, 10-4) stayed at No. 3 with wins over Boise State (65-63) and New Mexico (81-73). Braxton Huggins had 26 points against Boise State and 19 against New Mexico and was named by the conference on Monday as the Mountain West’s Player of the Week. The Bulldogs play a key game at Nevada today (5 p.m.). Nevada won the first game between the two teams at Fresno, 74-64, on Jan. 12.
No. 4 San Diego State (17-9, 9-4) beat Boise State (71-65) and Colorado State (71-60) last week. The Aztecs have won seven of their last eight games to remain in the running for second place in the Mountain West.
San Diego State avenged an 88-64 loss at Boise State on Jan. 5 by beating the Broncos this past Saturday.
Devin Watson had 19 points last Saturday against Boise State with 16 coming in the second half.
“There was a lot of chirping the last time we played Boise at their place,” Watson said. “I told them we had something for them when we got home.”
The Nevada Appeal Mountain West men’s basketball rankings heading into the week of Feb. 18 . . .
1. NEVADA (24-2, 11-2): Jazz Johnson was 4-of-5 on 3-pointers against Wyoming. The 5-10 junior had gone 11 consecutive games without making more than two 3-pointers. He was just 15-of-55 (27 percent) on threes over his last 11 games. Last week: Nevada 82, Wyoming 49 (Saturday). This week: San Diego State 65, Nevada 57, Fresno State at Nevada (Saturday).
2. UTAH STATE (21-6, 11-3): Abel Porter, a 6-3 sophomore, had 11 points against Wyoming and 10 against Air Force last week for his first back-to-back games with 10 or more points this season. Last week: Utah State 76, Wyoming 59 (Wednesday), Utah State 76, Air Force 62 (Saturday). This week: Utah State 71, New Mexico 55, Utah State at Boise State (Today).
3. FRESNO STATE (19-7, 10-4): Deshon Taylor’s 26 points against New Mexico on Saturday are his most in a game since he had 32 against Cal Poly on Dec. 1. Last week: Fresno State 65, Boise State 63 (Wednesday), Fresno State 81, New Mexico 73 (Saturday). This week: Air Force 64, Fresno State 61, Fresno State at Nevada (Today).
4. SAN DIEGO STATE (17-9, 9-4): The Aztecs, which host Nevada on Wednesday, are 5-2 against Eric Musselman-coached Wolf Pack teams. Last week: San Diego State 71, Colorado State 60 (Tuesday), San Diego State 71, Boise State 65 (Saturday). This week: San Diego State 65, Nevada 57, San Diego State at UNLV (Today).
5. UNLV (15-11, 9-5): Kris Clyburn scored just 10 points in two games combined last week on 3-of-22 shooting. Clyburn, who is averaging 13.1 points a game this year, had scored 10 or more points in 17 of his previous 21 games before last week. Last week: UNLV 77, Air Force 72 (Tuesday), UNLV 71, San Jose State 64 (Saturday). This week: UNLV 66, Wyoming 56, San Diego State at UNLV (Today).
6. BOISE STATE (11-15, 6-7): Derrick Alston scored just two points on 1-of-8 shooting against Fresno State last Wednesday just four days after scoring 33 against San Jose State. Last week: Fresno State 65, Boise State 63 (Wednesday), San Diego State 71, Boise State 65 (Saturday). This week: Utah State at Boise State (Today).
7. NEW MEXICO (11-15, 5-9): Sophomore Vance Jackson scored a career-high 30 points (4-of-6 on threes) against Fresno State. His previous high was 27 against New Mexico State on Nov. 17. Last week: New Mexico 92, San Jose State 60 (Wednesday), Fresno State 81, New Mexico 73 (Saturday).
8. AIR FORCE (11-15, 6-8): Lavelle Scottie has scored 10 or more points in 18 of his last 19 games. Last week: UNLV 77, Air Force 72 (Tuesday), Utah State 76, Air Force 62 (Saturday). This week: Air Force 64, Fresno State 61, San Jose State at Air Force (Today).
9. COLORADO STATE (10-16, 5-8): Nico Carvacho had 12 rebounds against San Diego State last week and now leads the nation in rebounding at 13.0 a game. Last week: San Diego State 71, Colorado State 60 (Tuesday). This week: Colorado State 91, San Jose State 70, Wyoming at Colorado State (Today).
10. WYOMING (6-20, 2-11): Justin James has scored 518 of Wyoming’s 1,632 points (32 percent) this year. He had 42 of Wyoming’s 108 points last week. Last week: Utah State 76, Wyoming 59 (Wednesday), Nevada 82, Wyoming 49 (Saturday). This week: UNLV 66, at Wyoming 56, Wyoming at Colorado State (Today).
11. SAN JOSE STATE (3-22, 0-13): The Spartans led UNLV 31-28 at halftime last Saturday. It was San Jose State’s first lead at halftime since it led Air Force 31-19 on Jan. 26 in an eventual 73-71 double-overtime loss. Last week: New Mexico 92, San Jose State 60 (Wednesday), UNLV 71, San Jose State 64 (Saturday). This week: Colorado State 91, San Jose State 70, San Jose State at Air Force (Today).