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Taking The Temperature of MW Hoops

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Nevada stayed Nevada, turbulence below...

NCAA Basketball: Nevada at Arizona State Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

SCALDING:

Nevada:

The Wolf Pack erased a double digit deficit and came from behind to beat #20 Arizona State at the Staples Center this past weekend, 72-66. This may be the only chance that Nevada has to play a ranked opponent and they impressed in the second half, outscoring the Sun Devils 46-30. The Wolf Pack came from behind to win a game in which they shot 16% on 18 three-point opportunities, turned the ball over eleven times, and trailed by as many as 15. The Mountain West really hopes that they run the table. Oh, and this team is scary good.

Last week: “Scalding”

HEATING UP:

Utah State:

The Aggies played two of their three in-state rivals and walked away with a split, losing to BYU in Provo and beating Weber State at the Beehive Classic. The 76-67 win over the Wildcats on Sunday was a wire-to-wire win, with the Aggies stretching their lead to as many as 18. Of note, the Beehive Classic was in Salt Lake City and a large contingent of Aggie fans made the trek down from Logan, something that Coach Craig Smith was very appreciative of. Next up, a home match-up with Alabama A&M.

Last week: “Hotter than Fire”

Fresno State:

They’re 7-2; they hammered Weber State 71-52 and then dispatched Long Beach State 92-71 last week. In both games, the Bulldogs featured an aggressive man-to-man defense with pressure higher up the floor. They still have issues with turnovers, they had sixteen and twelve turnovers in the two games. However, the increased defensive pressure allowed Fresno State to force seventeen turnovers in each game. This figures to be a staple for Coach Hutson going forward, the former SDSU assistant and defensive guru. Troubling news is that guard Deshon Taylor may be out for at least a month after an elbow sprain.

Last week: “Room Temperature”

BROKEN THERMOMETER:

Boise State:

The Broncos hammered Division II Central Washington this past weekend, 82-62. That’s the good news and the better news is, last year’s MW Sixth Man of the Year Alex Hobbs is back in the lineup. Junior Justinian Jessup continues to shoot well from beyond the arc, going 3 for 5 against the Wildcats while adjusting to a bigger offensive role, taking over ten shots per game. I’ve said this every week, but we really don’t know a lot about this team until they’re full healthy. They still have a couple tough games with Oregon and Loyola Marymount on tap.

Last week: “Broken Thermometer”

Colorado State:

They were manhandled by Arkansas, 98-74, in front of a large crowd at Moby Arena on Wednesday. The Rams have two things going for them so far this season, one good and one not. They have a tough time stopping anybody defensively, giving up nearly 80 points per game. The blowout to Arkansas didn’t help those metrics. The good thing is that the Rams don’t stop fighting and have resilience in spades. They made the game as close as seven in the second half and rebounded with a weekend win over Sam Houston State on Saturday.

Last week: “Broken Thermometer”

UNLV:

They played just one game this past week, dropping a tough 77-74 game at the University of Illinois. Cheihk Mbacke Diong, who I talked about last week, finished the game with eighteen points and thirteen rebounds. Freshman Joel Ntawambe stepped up with a season high 18 points to blunt the edge of quiet games from Juiston and Clyburn. Going forward, senior guard Kris Clyburn has to get going. He’s been in a slump the last four games, shooting under 33% from the field and 25% from beyond the arc.

Last week: “Winter is Approaching”

WINTER IS APPROACHING:

Air Force:

They played two home games this past week, beating University of Denver 73-65 and losing a heart breaker against Army 66-61 on Saturday. The second half of the Army game was a house of horrors for the Falcons. Junior forward Lavelle Scottie has been in double figures for each of the past four games. Junior guard Caleb Morris started both games last week and rewarded Air Force with solid efforts and may be a nice secondary scoring option going forward.

Last week: “Winter is Approaching”

Wyoming:

The Cowboys played a solid game and beat South Carolina 73-64 at the double A. Senior Justin James continues to terrorize opponents, finishing with a double-double. Junior guard Jake Hendricks shot well from distance again and between him and sophomore Hunter Maldonado, the Cowboys could surprise folks during conference play with a solid core group of scorers.

Last week: “Winter is Approaching”

ANTARCTICA:

San Jose State:

The Spartans won a back and forth affair against Bethune-Cookman, 67-65. JUCO transfers Michael Steadman and Brae Ivey continue to anchor down the Spartans lineup, averaging nearly thirty minutes per game. Sophomore guard Noah Baumann hit a couple of key three pointers down the stretch, and may be the key to unlocking a little bit offensive efficiency and potency for SJSU.

Last week: “Antarctica”

A SPECIAL SHOUT OUT:

San Diego State and New Mexico:

These two teams were the second and third place favorites in the Mountain West in the preseason poll. They both notched impressive road wins to close out the Missouri Valley-Mountain West Challenge. Then, they had weeks like this:

New Mexico: got into a scuffle before the game and proceeded to lose by 35 points to in-state rival New Mexico State. On Sunday, they played Saint Mary’s at the Staples Center and lost by 25.

San Diego State: lost at home to cross-town rival University of San Diego, 73-61. It was the first time the Toreros won at Viejas Arena since 2000. Saturday night, they went up to Berkeley and lost 89-83 to Cal, who had only beaten Hampton and Santa Clara this season.

Basically, they confirmed that unless someone gets hot and steals the automatic bid from Nevada during the Mountain West tournament, this is a one bid league.