GAME NOTES: Former foes from the Western Athletic Conference now tangle as enemies in the Mountain West, as the Fresno State Bulldogs clash with the Boise State Broncos at the Save Mart Center.
The Broncos entered the week tied with UNLV and Wyoming for third place in the MWC standings with a record of 8-6, thanks to a run of solid victories in the last couple weeks. Most recently, the team slipped by UNLV in overtime at home by a final of 91-90.
Best described as enigmatic, the Bulldogs have been all over the map this season, from a five-game slide and losing seven of eight decisions to coming up with six wins in the last seven outings. Over the weekend, the squad took out Utah State on the road in a 79-74 final, yet another opponent coming over from the fledgling WAC.
The Broncos lead the overall series by a count of 19-15, but in California the advantage goes to the hosts, 10-6. Boise State captured an 86-79 win in the first meeting of this season early last month at Taco Bell Arena in Idaho.
Boise State set the tone against the Runnin' Rebels, testing the visitors on how accurate their nickname is these days, and the hosts managed to outlast UNLV at home by just a single point in overtime. Derrick Marks played the hero for the Broncos as he knocked down a jumper in the final seconds to five BSU the win, finishing with 17 points for the hosts. Ryan Watkins and Anthony Drmic accounted for 22 points apiece, the former clearing 15 rebounds, while Nick Duncan tallied 12 points.
Starting all 26 games in which he has appeared, Drmic leads the Broncos in scoring with 17.5 ppg, shooting 38.0 percent behind the 3-point line, while Marks checks in with another 15.7 ppg and contributes a team-high 75 assists in order to get the offense in gear. Watkins is now averaging a double-double with 11.3 points and 10.9 rebounds per contest, one of only a handful of players at this late stage able to claim such a feat.
The Bulldogs led by as many as 16 in the first half at the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum the other night, but the team saw that advantage wither away before holding on for the three-point victory. Tyler Johnson stepped up with a double-double consisting of 21 points and 10 rebounds, while Paul Watson tallied 20 points and Marvelle Harris 15 for the victors. In addition to shooting 11-of-23 behind the 3-point line, FSU also turned the ball over a mere three times.
The leading scorer in four straight games and six of the last seven for the Bulldogs, Johnson has been a bright spot for FSU when he's been on the hardwood, posting 16.6 ppg in his 24 appearances. Harris is responsible for another 14.8 ppg, followed by Cezar Guerrero with another 13.5 ppg to go along with 109 assists. Between the three of them, they've accounted for 140 of the unit's 218 3-pointers.
Once again, as long as the Broncos are out and running, pushing the tempo to their liking, even being on he road should not slow them down enough for Fresno State to keep up.
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