2014-15 Mountain West Men's Basketball Weekly Release - March 2

 

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UPCOMING MOUNTAIN WEST MEN'S BASKETBALL SCHEDULE
Wednesday, March 4 Broadcast Time
Utah State at Wyoming* MWN/CI 7 p.m. MT
Air Force at Fresno State* ASN/MWN 7 p.m. PT
Colorado State at Nevada* MWN 7 p.m. PT
Boise State at San Jos&eacute State* ROOT/MWN 7:15 p.m. PT
San Diego State at UNLV* CBSSN 8 p.m. PT
Saturday, March 7 Broadcast Time
Fresno State at Boise State* ESPN3 6 p.m. MT
Wyoming at New Mexico* CBSSN 6 p.m. MT
Colorado State at Utah State* ROOT/MWN 7 p.m. MT
Nevada at San Diego State* CBSSN 7 p.m. PT
UNLV at San Jos&eacute State* ESPN3 7 p.m. PT
*Mountain West game

 

RACE FOR MW REGULAR-SEASON CROWN ENTERS FINAL WEEK
As the 2014-15 Conference slate heads into the home stretch, five teams remain in contention for the Mountain West regular-season crown. With two games left to play for each member of the group, co-leaders Boise State (12-4) and San Diego State (12-4) hold at least a one-game advantage on Colorado State (11-5), Utah State (11-5) and Wyoming (10-6).

Only twice in the previous 15 years of the Mountain West have more than two teams shared the regular-season crown. The 2000-01 season saw BYU, Utah and Wyoming named tri-champions after posting identical 10-4 marks in Conference play. BYU and Utah were also part of a three-way championship in 2008-09, joining New Mexico atop the final league standings with 12-4 marks.

No Mountain West regular-season champion has ever had more than four losses. The occurrence of four-loss champions has happened four times since the league’s inception in 1999-00 and each time, two or more teams shared the crown (UNLV and Utah, 10-4 in 1999-00; BYU, Utah and Wyoming, 10-4 in 2000-01; BYU, New Mexico and Utah, 12-4 in 2008-09; New Mexico and San Diego State, 10-4 in 2011-12).

 

MW CHAMPIONSHIP RETURNS TO LAS VEGAS
The Mountain West Basketball Championship returns to Las Vegas, Nevada, for 2015. The Thomas & Mack Center has a seating capacity of 18,500 and will play host to the MW championship for the 13th time in the 16-year history of the league.

Seeds for the Mountain West Basketball Championship are determined by the finish of each team in an 18-game regular-season schedule. The winner of the 2015 Mountain West Basketball Championship receives an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. Please visit the Mountain West website TheMW.com for additional information.

To order tickets for the 2015 Mountain West Basketball Championship, contact your local institution’s athletic ticket office.

 

MOUNTAIN WEST IN NATIONAL RANKINGS
San Diego State slipped out of both the Associated Press and USA Today Coaches’ polls following its loss to Boise State last Saturday. Both the Aztecs and Broncos are receiving votes from both panels, as is Colorado State.

Colorado State, San Diego State and Wyoming have each spent time in the AP Top-25 poll in 2014-15, marking the fifth time in six years that three different MW squads have been ranked in that poll at some point during the season.

 

FOUR MOUNTAIN WEST TEAMS REACH 20-WIN BENCHMARK
Boise State, Colorado State, San Diego State and Wyoming have all reached the 20-win milestone this season. This marks the ninth consecutive year (11th overall) the Mountain West has been home to at least four 20-win programs. A league-record six teams hit the 20-win benchmark in 2012-13.

Boise State has hit the 20-win mark for the third straight season, and fourth time overall, in head coach Leon Rice’s five-year tenure. Rice joins Bobby Dye as the only coaches in program history to register four 20-win seasons. This marks the second time Boise State has strung together three straight 20-win campaigns (1986-89). It is the Broncos’ 11th 20-win season as a Division I program.

Colorado State has compiled the program’s ninth 20-win campaign, and second in three years under head coach Larry Eustachy. Eustachy joins Boyd “Tiny” Grant and current Utah State head coach Stew Morrill as the only coaches in CSU history to lead the team to multiple 20-win campaigns.

San Diego State has posted its 20th 20-win campaign, including its 11th under head coach Steve Fisher, and 10th consecutive.

Wyoming has reached the 20-win threshhold for the third time in five years under head coach Larry Shyatt. The Cowboys have 21 20-win campaigns overall, with this year marking the earliest the Pokes have reached the mark since the ‘51-52 season.

UNLV leads the league with 11 20-win campaigns as a MW member, followed by San Diego State (11), New Mexico (nine), Wyoming (four), Air Force, Boise State and Colorado State (three each) and Fresno State (one).

 

AGGIE COACH PICKS UP MILESTONE VICTORY
Utah State’s victory over Fresno State on Feb. 21 marked the 400th win at USU for head coach Stew Morrill. Morrill, who earlier announced his retirement at the end of this season, holds a 402-153 record in 17 years at the helm of the Aggie program. He becomes just the eighth active coach in the NCAA to register 400 wins at his current institution. Texas head coach Rick Barnes needs just one more win to become the ninth member of the club.

 

GETTING DEFENSIVE
San Diego State (53.6) ranks third nationally in points allowed this season. The Aztecs have limited 22 of their 29 opponents to fewer than 60 points, including 13 who have been held under the 50-point mark.

 

WOLF PACK ON THE OFFENSIVE GLASS
Nevada ranks fifth nationally in offensive rebounds per game, averaging 14.96 per game. The Wolf Pack has pulled down nine or more offensive boards in each of its 28 games this season, including 15 contests with 15 or more.

 

PROTECTING THE RIM
UNLV has registered 196 blocks as a team for a 6.8 per-game average in 2014-15, which ties for third and fourth in the nation, respectively. The Runnin’ Rebel tandem of sophomore forward Christian Wood and freshman forward/center Goodluck Okonoboh accounts for 80 percent of the team’s rejections, boasting 82 and 77, respectively.

 

UNLV’S GOODLUCK OKONOBOH SETS MW FRESHMAN BLOCK MARK
UNLV’s Goodluck Okonoboh continues to add to his Mountain West freshman class record for blocked shots. The freshman forward has 77 rejections through games of March 1, surpassing the 51 tallied by San Diego State’s Skylar Spencer in 2012-13. Okonoboh has amassed 39 of those in MW play, which is also a new freshman class record, eclipsing the 29 collected by former Utah Ute and current Golden State Warrior Andrew Bogut during the Conference portion of the 2003-04 campaign.

 

CSU’S DANIEL BEJARANO IN ELITE GROUP
Colorado State’s Daniel Bejarano became the seventh player in Mountain West history to record 1,000 points, 600 rebounds and 200 assists in a career. The senior guard, who hit the milestone on Feb. 7, currently has 1,059 points, 650 rebounds and 223 assists through games of March 1.

 

WYOMING’S LARRY NANCE JR. CLIMBING MW REBOUNDS CHART
Wyoming’s Larry Nance Jr. is closing in on the Mountain West’s Top 5 list for career rebounds (all games). As of March 1, the senior forward has 765 rebounds in his career to rank sixth on the league’s all-time list.

 

CLASS OF THEIR CLASSES
UNLV’s Christian Wood has moved into the Top 5 of the Mountain West’s list of all-time sophomore rebounders. Through games of March 1, Wood has 286 rebounds, which ranks fourth among the league’s sophomore class leaders. Teammate Rashad Vaughn, who is out indefinitely with a knee injury, currently ranks seventh on the freshman class list for scoring with 410 points.

 

INDIVIDUAL BLOCK PARTY
Just a junior, San Diego State forward Skylar Spencer has already moved into the Top 5 on the Mountain West list of career shot-blockers, ranking third with 213 rejections to his credit through games of March 1. Spencer has amassed 106 of those blocks in Conference play to also rank fifth on that career chart.

 

CLEARING THE (OFFENSIVE) GLASS
Nevada’s AJ West is the nation’s top offensive rebounder through games of March 1, boasting 158 boards for a 5.85 average on the offensive end of the glass.

West’s 2014-15 tally of 158 offensive rebounds ranks as the second-best single-season performance in Mountain West history. Boise State’s Ryan Watkins set the league record just last year with 170 offensive boards.

West has amassed 108 offensive rebounds in Mountain West play in 2014-15, establishing a new MW record for Conference-only games. He surpasses Watkins, who racked up a league-record 104 offensive boards in MW-only games last season. West, whose 72 offensive rebounds in 2013-14 rank fourth on the league’s single-season chart, is the only player in MW history to register 70 or more offensive boards in Conference-only games in multiple seasons.

In just two seasons of Conference play, West has collected 180 rebounds on the offensive end of the glass, eclipsing Watkins for most in a career in Conference-only games. San Diego State’s JJ O’Brien is fourth on that same list, compiling 162 offensive rebounds in a four-year MW career that includes one season at Utah (2010-11). Watkins previously held the league’s career mark for most offensive rebounds in MW-only games with 179.

 

30-POINT MAN
Boise State’s Derrick Marks has scored at least 30 points in a game 10 times in his career, the most by a Bronco in program history. Marks has reached the 30-point plateau six times in 2014-15, doubling his tally of three from the 2012-13 campaign. He is just the fourth Bronco to eclipse 30 points three times in a season and the first to do so in two different seasons. Marks’ six 30-point games in 2014-15 tie for fourth on the league’s all-time chart, while his 10 career 30-point performances rank third.

 

ICE AT THE CHARITY STRIPE
Wyoming’s Riley Grabau enters this week’s action as the nation’s top free throw shooter, converting 74-of-78 attempts for a 94.9 rate at the charity stripe through games of March 1. Players must average 2.5 made free throws per game in order to be ranked.

 

MW TRIO ON INAUGURAL AWARD WATCH LISTS
Wyoming’s Larry Nance Jr. and UNLV teammates Christian Wood and Rashad Vaughn are among those vying for a pair of inaugural awards being presented by the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. Nance and Wood have been named to the 16-member watch list for the 2015 Karl Malone Power Forward of the Year Award, while Vaughn is one of 16 candidates for the 2015 Jerry West Shooting Guard of the Year Award.

Named after the Hall of Famer and two-time NBA Most Valuable Player, the Malone Award will recognize the top power forward in Division I men’s college basketball. The West Award, named after the Hall of Famer and 1959 NCAA Final Four Most Valuable Player, will honor the top shooting guard in Division I men’s college basketball.

A national committee comprised of top college basketball personnel determined the watch lists for both awards. Each watch list will be narrowed down to five players by early March, and the five finalists will be presented to West, Malone and the Hall of Fame’s selection committee. The winners of the West and Malone awards will be presented at ESPN’s new College Basketball Awards in Los Angeles, Calif., on April 10. The Awards will be televised live on ESPN2 at 8 p.m. ET.

 

DIALING FROM LONG DISTANCE
UNLV currently holds the NCAA record for consecutive games with at least one made 3-pointer. Since the official adoption of the 3-point rule at the start of the 1986-87 season, the Runnin’ Rebels have connected on at least one trey in all 936 of their games. UNLV, Princeton, Vanderbilt are the only three teams in the country to have made at least one 3-pointer in every one of their games since the rule was implemented.

 

WORKING OVERTIME
There have been 15 overtime games played by Mountain West teams in 2014-15. Five MW teams are perfect in overtime outings this season (Boise State 3-0; Wyoming 2-0; Air Force 1-0; Colorado State 1-0; Nevada 1-0). The Wolf Pack was the last MW team this season to play an overtime contest, earning a 66-63 victory over New Mexico on Feb. 14.

 

400 WINS AND COUNTING
The Mountain West is home to three 400-win head coaches. Through games of March 1, Utah State’s Stew Morrill has amassed a 620-291 (.681) record over a 29-year head coaching career. San Diego State’s Steve Fisher is 518-265 (.662) in 25 seasons as a head coach, while Colorado State’s Larry Eustachy has compiled a 468-288 (.619) career record over a 24-year span.

 

RAMS STRONG OUT OF THE GATE
Colorado State opened the season with a 14-game win streak before seeing the run end with a Jan. 3 loss at New Mexico. The 14-0 start marked the best undefeated opening to a campaign in program history, surpassing the previous record of 6-0, which was accomplished three times (1970-71; 2005-06; 2012-13). The 14-game win streak was also the longest in program history, eclipsing the previous school record of 11, set during the 1988-89 season.

Colorado State went 13-0 in non-conference play, becoming the third team in the 16-year history of the Mountain West to end its non-league slate undefeated. The Rams join San Diego State, who entered the 2010-11 MW slate with a perfect 15-0 record in non-conference action, and Wyoming, who brought a 13-0 mark against non-league opponents into its 2012-13 Conference opener. The Cowboys added a 14th non-conference victory in early February of that season, making the Rams, Aztecs and Pokes the only three teams in MW history ever to go undefeated in regular-season non-conference play.