Mountain West Men's Basketball Weekly Release No. 7

Dec. 17, 2012


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The Mountain West is one of three conferences to have at least three men's basketball teams (New Mexico, San Diego State, UNLV) ranked in both national polls. The Lobos enter this week's action riding an 11-game win streak, while the Aztecs have won eight straight and the Runnin' Rebels have won six in a row.

STRONG OUT OF THE GATE
Through games of December 16, Mountain West teams still boast the nation's best collective win percentage. MW squads are 69-18 against non-conference opponents for a .793 win percentage. Seven of the MW's 18 losses have been to teams that were or are currently ranked (Texas, Syracuse, Michigan State, Colorado, Wichita State).

With its 69-18 non-conference mark, the Mountain West is on pace to post the best composite out-of-conference record in the league's 14-year history. The MW's .793 win percentage currently ranks ahead of the .756 (102-33) clip the league compiled last season. The MW has finished with a .700 or better win percentage in non-conference play each of the last three seasons and four times overall.

MOUNTAIN WEST RANKS FIFTH IN CONFERENCE RPI
The Mountain West has the fifth-best conference RPI through games of December 16, according to Collegiate Basketball News, ranking ahead of the Atlantic-10, Big 12 and SEC. Six MW teams are listed among CBN's top-75 RPI rankings, with New Mexico leading the pack at No. 7. UNLV (21st) is second, followed by Colorado State (28th), Wyoming (35th), Boise State (36th) and San Diego State (75th).

MW IN NATIONAL RANKINGS
New Mexico, San Diego State and UNLV posted a combined 3-0 record last week and remain ranked in both national Top 25 polls. The MW is one of three conferences (Big Ten 6; Big East 5) to have at least three teams listed by both panels. In addition, Wyoming continues to receive votes, garnering 14 in the Associated Press poll and eight in the USA Today/Coaches' poll.

The 11-0 Lobos, off to their best start since opening the 2009-10 campaign with a 12-0 record, climbed to No. 16 and 17 in the AP and Coaches' polls, respectively. This marks the third time in four seasons UNM has been listed in the Top 25.

Riding an eight-game win streak, the Aztecs (8-1) remained steady at No. 18 by the AP panel and No. 15 by the coaches. SDSU has been included in the AP poll for 19 straight weeks and in the Coaches' poll for 18 of the last 20 weeks.

The Runnin' Rebels (8-1) have won six straight and are listed 21st by the AP voters and 18th by the Coaches' panel. UNLV has been ranked in the AP poll for 20 consecutive weeks and in the Coaches' poll for 21 of the last 24 weeks.

This is the fourth straight year the Mountain West has had three teams ranked at some point during the season. The MW has had one team ranked in both polls for 21 consecutive weeks and two teams listed in the AP poll for 19 straight weeks. Two MW teams have been ranked in the Coaches' poll 18 of the last 19 weeks.

LOBOS AND COWBOYS REMAIN UNDEFEATED
New Mexico (11-0) and Wyoming (10-0) are two of eight undefeated teams nationally and join Illinois (12-0), Michigan (11-0), Cincinnati (10-0) as the only five squads to boast 10-0 or better records through games of December 16. The MW is one of three conferences (Big East, Big Ten) to have two or more unbeaten teams.

Big East (2): Cincinnati (10-0); Syracuse (9-0)
Big Ten (2): Illinois (12-0); Michigan (11-0)
MW (2): New Mexico (11-0); Wyoming (10-0)
ACC (1): Duke (9-0)
Pac-12 (1): Arizona (8-0)

MW-MVC CHALLENGE
With one game left to play, the Mountain West has clinched the 2012 MW-MVC Challenge, taking a 5-3 lead into Wednesday's Challenge finale between UNI and UNLV.

Including this year's results, the Mountain West holds a 21-13 lead in the series. The two conferences split last year's matchups, 4-4, while the MW won the 2010 Challenge, 8-1, and the MVC took the 2009 Challenge, 5-4.

HOME SWEET HOME
Colorado State has won 17 straight games at Moby Arena, which ranks as the nation's fifth-longest active home win streak. The Rams' last loss in Moby Arena was a 79-58 setback to Southern Miss on Nov. 19, 2011.

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 849 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.

400 WINS AND COUNTING
With the addition of Colorado State's Larry Eustachy, the Mountain West is now home to three 400-win head coaches. New Mexico's Steve Alford has accumulated a 445-229 (.660) record over a 21-year head coaching career, while San Diego State's Steve Fisher is 450-243 (.649) in 21 seasons as a head coach. Eustachy has amassed a 408-260 (.611) career record, also over a 21-year span.

TWO NEW HEAD COACHES JOIN MW RANKS IN 2012-13
The Mountain West welcomes two new head men's basketball coaches in 2012-13. Dave Pilipovich brings 26 years of coaching experience to his first full season as a head coach, officially taking over the reins at Air Force after serving as the Falcons' interim head coach for the final eight contests of the 2011-12 campaign. Pilipovich, who joined the Air Force program as an assistant prior to the 2007-08 season, also served on the staffs at Michigan (2005-07), Eastern Michigan (2000-05), Robert Morris (1996-00), Georgia State (1994-96), Florida Atlantic (1989-94) and California (1986-89).

Colorado State is now under the direction of Larry Eustachy, who recently completed an eight-year stint as the head coach at Southern Miss. Eustachy has 33 years of coaching experience, the last 21 as a head coach. He guided Southern Miss to 20-win campaigns each of the last three seasons, including a 25-9 mark and NCAA tournament berth in 2011-12. Prior to overseeing the Southern Miss program, Eustachy served as the head coach at Idaho (1990-93), Utah State (1993-98) and Iowa State (1998-03).

SAN DIEGO STATE PICKED TO CAPTURE MW TITLE
Defending Mountain West co-regular-season champion San Diego State edged UNLV as the preseason favorite to win the MW men's basketball regular-season title in 2012-13. The Aztecs received 10 of 18 first-place votes and 153 points to garner the top spot in the poll. San Diego State amassed a 26-8 overall record in 2011-12 en route to capturing a share of the MW regular-season crown with a 10-4 mark. The Aztecs made their third consecutive NCAA tournament appearance last year, receiving an at-large bid. Four of five starters return among seven letterwinners, led by the 2011-12 MW Player of the Year Jamaal Franklin (Jr., G) and fellow all-MW performers Chase Tapley (Sr., G) and Xavier Thames (Jr., G).

One senior and four juniors representing four institutions were chosen for the 2012-13 preseason all-MW team. San Diego State's Jamaal Franklin received Preseason MW Player of the Year honors, while San Diego State's Dwayne Polee II and UNLV's Bryce DeJean-Jones shared Preseason Newcomer of the Year accolades. UNLV's Anthony Bennett earned Preseason Freshman of the Year kudos.

PRESEASON ALL-MOUNTAIN WEST
Deonte Burton, Jr., G, Nevada
Kendall Williams, Jr., G, New Mexico
Jamaal Franklin, Jr., G, San Diego State
Chase Tapley, Sr., G, San Diego State
Mike Moser, Jr., F, UNLV

PRESEASON MW PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Jamaal Franklin, Jr., G, San Diego State

PRESEASON MW CO-NEWCOMERS OF THE YEAR
Dwayne Polee II, So., F, San Diego State
Bryce Dejean-Jones, So., G, UNLV

PRESEASON MW FRESHMAN OF THE YEAR
Anthony Bennett, F, UNLV

Coming Up in Mountain West Men's Basketball
Game Time TV/Webstream
MONDAY, DECEMBER 17
NO. 21/18 UNLV at UTEP 6 p.m. MT CBSSN
North Florida at COLORADO STATE (1A) 7 p.m. MT Live Stream
TUESDAY, DECEMBER 18
Denver at WYOMING 7 p.m. MT Live Stream
Point Loma Nazarene at NO. 18/15 SAN DIEGO STATE 7 p.m. PT FSSD
WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 19
CSU Bakersfield at COLORADO STATE (1A) 7 p.m. MT Live Stream
NO. 16/17 NEW MEXICO at New Mexico State 7 p.m. MT ALT
UNI at NO. 21/18 UNLV 7 p.m. PT TWCSN
THURSDAY, DECEMBER 20
Idaho State at BOISE STATE (2) 7 p.m. MT ROOT
FRIDAY, DECEMBER 21
UC Santa Barbara at WYOMING 7 p.m. MT Live Stream
Cal State San Marcos at NEVADA 7 p.m. PT Live Stream
SATURDAY, DECEMBER 22
South Dakota State at NO. 16/17 NEW MEXICO 12:30 p.m. MT ROOT
AIR FORCE at UC Riverside 1 p.m. PT Live Stream
NO. 18/15 SAN DIEGO STATE vs. San Francisco (3) 1 p.m. HT ESPNU
Canisius at NO. 21/18 UNLV 7 p.m. PT Live Stream
COLORADO STATE vs. Portland (1B) 7:30 p.m. PT
Fresno State at UCLA 8 p.m. PT P12N
SUNDAY, DECEMBER 23
BOISE STATE vs. New Orleans Noon PT
NO. 18/15 SAN DIEGO STATE at Diamond Head Classic (3) TBD ESPNU
COLORADO STATE at Continental Tire Las Vegas Classic (1B) TBD
Legend
(1A) Continental Tire Las Vegas Classic (Fort Collins, Colo.)
(1B) Continental Tire Las Vegas Classic (Las Vegas, Nev.)
(2) CenturyLink Arena (Boise, Idaho)
(3) Diamond Head Classic (Honolulu, Hawaii)
(4) Orleans Arena (Las Vegas, Nev.)
* - Mountain West game.
CAPS denotes Mountain West team.
Bold denotes home team.
Rankings listed according to Associated Press/USA Today Coaches' Top-25 polls.
All dates and times subject to change.
Live stats available for most games.