GAME NOTES: Two of the three teams in the Mountain West Conference tied for seventh place in the standings get together at the Save Mart Center, as the Fresno State Bulldogs host the Colorado State Rams.
The Bulldogs are enjoying a rare four-game win streak, the first of the season in fact, thanks to a 75-67 victory at Nevada on Wednesday night. With the favorable decision three nights ago, FSU is now 5-7 in conference play, which is where the Rams are, as well as Utah State heading into the weekend.
Meanwhile, the Rams saw a brief two-game win streak come to an end earlier this week when they took a tumble against Utah State at home, 71-62. With the defeat CSU dropped to 12-5 at home in 2013-14, but what is more of a concern for the Rams entering this meeting is their mere 2-6 showing outside of Moby Arena.
Thanks to a 76-57 blowout win in the first meeting of the season a little over a month ago in Fort Collins, CSU leads the all-time series by a count of 14-8.
Colorado State fell behind the Aggies right out of the chute the last time out, converting a mere five field goals on 29 attempts in the first half, en route to the nine-point home loss. Jon Octeus tallied 22 points, hitting on just 6-of-17 from the field, followed by Daniel Bejarano with 21 points and J.J. Avila another 14, but while the former converted half of his 14 field goal chances, the latter was only 3-of-11 as the team finished the meeting at a mere 29.8 percent.
The Rams have had a different leading scorer in each of the last three games, but on the season overall the top man is Avila who is posting 17.3 ppg, although his mere 27.3 percent accuracy out on the perimeter is still a concern that should be addressed. Avila is also first with 83 assists in 25 games, his 7.7 rpg second only to Bejarano (15.8 ppg) who is hitting the glass to the tune of 8.4 rpg and like Avila is more than capable of keeping his teammates involved in the action with 80 assists.
Considering Nevada seems to be moving in the right direction lately, it was somewhat startling to see the Bulldogs not only defeat the Wolf Pack by eight earlier this week, but to do so on the road. Tyler Johnson produced a double- double with 17 points and 10 rebounds, and the same went for Marvelle Harris who cleared as many boards and dropped in 13 points. Paul Watson posted 15 points and Cezar Guerrero 12, although the latter shot only 2-of-9 from the floor on the night.
Nine times in the last 11 games it has been Johnson as the top offensive performer for the Bulldogs and that has been the case for Johnson on the average for the entire campaign. A starter in all 21 games in which he has appeared, Johnson paces the program with 16.0 ppg and 7.5 rpg as well, adding 65 assists which is second only to Guerrero (14.1 ppg) who has handed out an even 100 in his 25 outings.
Some spirited play of late for the Bulldogs is just what they need in order to generate some confidence as the regular season begins to wind down. However, the Rams are also in need of some encouragement right now as well, so expect a close contest in California.
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