With all due respect to Air Force and Boise State, there are really four teams that have set themselves apart for the pack in the Mountain West race: UNLV, San Diego State, Colorado State and New Mexico.
Only one of those four teams has won a road game against the top four in the MWC. That was UNLV, when they picked up an 82-75 win at SDSU back in January. UNLV also happens to be one of the teams that is the most notorious for their inability to win on the road, and not just in the MWC. Nationally.
That’s really all you need to know about the MWC this season.
And that’s what you need to keep in mind when you hear about No. 22 Colorado State’s loss at the Thomas & Mack Center on Wednesday night.
Yes, there were some positive signs for the Rebels. A team that has had a bad habit of getting beaten up in the paint, the Rebels went all Waka Flocka on Colorado State, who just so happens to have one of the biggest and most powerful front lines in the country. They’ve shown an increased aptitude for making smart passes and taking fewer dumb shots. They didn’t wilt in the second half when the Rams completely erased a 13 point lead. Anthony Marshall was able to shake off a tough shooting night and hit the game-winner.
UNLV’s hopes of winning the league vanished long ago, but they’re still going to be in the NCAA tournament and they still have the talent to make some noise in the Big Dance.
Tonight’s performance was a step in the right direction. Now let’s see them do it on the road.
It’s worth noting that, as far as the Rams are concerned, this loss put them behind the eight-ball in terms of winning the Mountain West title outright. They will have a chance to host conference leader New Mexico on Saturday, a game that should be one of the best of the weekend.
You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.
Two of the best guards in the country went absolutely bananas on Tuesday night as Iona senior A.J. English and Davidson junior Jack Gibbs had huge nights.
English dropped 46 points and went 13-for-19 from the 3-point line as the Gaels raced past Fairfield. The Iona star went 15-for-25 from the field and also had eight assists in the win.
Not to be outdone, Gibbs started Davidson’s game against Charlotte by going 14-for-14 from the field. Finishing 14-for-17 for the game, Gibbs had 25 points by halftime and 39 points at the under-12-minute timeout in the second half before deferring to teammates in a blowout win.
Steph Curry and his parents were at the game watching Davidson play as Gibbs became the first Wildcat to go for 40 since the former NBA MVP in 2009.
The 40-point efforts for both English and Gibbs were the first of their college basketball careers, and given the way both have scored the past two seasons, it’s not out of the question that this could happen again.
Michigan 66, N.C. State 59: Playing without starting point guard Derrick Walton Jr. in the second half, the Wolverines still played well enough to win on the road in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. Caris LeVert played a tremendous overall floor game to finish with 18 points, nine rebounds and seven assists while Duncan Robinson came off the bench to hit five 3-pointers and finish with 17 points.
A.J. English, Iona: Iona was able to run past Fairfield as the senior guard had 46 points and made 13 3-pointers in the win. English also tallied eight assists as he went 15-for-25 from the field and 13-for-19 from 3-point range.
Jack Gibbs, Davidson: The junior guard had 25 points by halftime and he went 14-for-14 before finally missing a field goal in the second half. Gibbs finished with 41 points in total in the win over Charlotte as he was 14-for-17 from the field.
Robert Hatter, Cornell: The junior guard helped the Big Red to a win over Siena as Hatter had 32 points and six assists to go along with three rebounds and three steals.
D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera, Georgetown: The Hoyas earned an easy home win over Maryland-Eastern Shore as the senior guard went for 30 points on 10-for-16 shooting.
THE REST OF THE TOP 25
- Another big game for Wayne Selden Jr. as he had 18 points, six rebounds and four assists to lead No. 4 Kansas to a big win over Loyola (MD). In his debut, Cheick Diallo went 6-for-8 from the field for 13 points, six rebounds and three blocks.
- Abdel Nader had 21 points and Jameel McKay had 15 points and 19 rebounds to lead No. 5 Iowa State past North Dakota State.
- No. 8 Villanova won a road game in Philly as they defeated Saint Joseph’s, 86-72. Kris Jenkins and Josh Hart each finished with 18 points while Ryan Arcidiacono had 17 points.
- Virginia was able to win on the road at Ohio State without London Perrantes as Malcolm Brogdon had 22 points and six rebounds. The Buckeyes have lost four consecutive games.
OTHER NOTABLE RESULTS
- Quality blowout win for Florida as they easily dispatched Richmond. John Egbunu finished with 17 to pace the Gators while Dorian Finney-Smith had nine points, 13 rebounds, six assists and three blocks.
- Northwestern outlasted Virginia Tech in overtime as Bryant McIntosh had 19 points and Tre Demps finished with 17.
- Georgia Tech defeated Wofford at home as Adam Smith led with 16 points for the Yellow Jackets.
- Georgia needed 23 points from J.J. Frazier and 21 points from Yante Maten to outscore Oakland in a close win.
- Moses Kingsley had 21 points and 10 rebounds as Arkansas ran past Northwestern State.
- B.J. Tyson had 15 points and nine rebounds to help lead East Carolina past Florida Atlantic.
- Nice win for William & Mary over Old Dominion as Omar Prewitt had 18 points and seven rebounds.
- Ohio got past Marshall as guard Jaaron Simmons had 25 points, six assists and five rebounds.
- Shane Rector had the game-winning free throws to lead Utah State over Missouri State.
- Arkansas-Little Rock got a win over Central Arkansas as Marcus Johnson Jr. had 28 points.
- Aaron Cosby had 26 points and went 8-for-15 from the field to lead Western Kentucky to a win over Eastern Kentucky.
- D.J. Balentine had 26 points and eight assists as Evansville ran by Alabama State.
- UMKC had a home win over Tennessee-Martin as Martez Harrison had 24 points, five rebounds and five assists.