The Nevada Wolf Pack is no longer the happiest team in the Mountain West.
The New Mexico Lobos are all smiles this week after handing the Wolf Pack its first loss of the season, 85-58, on Saturday night in Albuquerque.
“It’s an amazing win for our team,” New Mexico coach Paul Weir said. “We’ve had a little bit of an up and down year so far. But this is huge in a lot of ways.”
Despite the upset loss, the Wolf Pack (14-1, 1-1) remains as the top team in this week’s Nevada Appeal Mountain West men’s basketball rankings. New Mexico, 8-6, 2-0, made the biggest jump in the rankings this week, moving from No. 7 to No. 4. The Lobos also beat Air Force, 65-58, last Wednesday.
“To get this type of victory is enormous for us,” Weir said of the victory over Nevada.
Anthony Mathis had 27 points for the Lobos against Nevada. “We had so many people rebound the ball and play unselfish,” said Mathis, referring to the Lobos’ 47-37 rebounding edge over the Pack. “A team that plays unselfish is so hard to beat.”
The 27-point defeat is the largest for the Wolf Pack since a 29-point loss (98-69) at Wichita State in the 12th game of coach Eric Musselman’s career at Nevada on Dec. 22, 2015.
“We didn’t play hard,” said Musselman, whose Wolf Pack began the week with an impressive 72-49 win over Utah State at home last Wednesday. “We splintered and we came apart.”
Fresno State (11-3, 2-0) jumped over Utah State and into the No. 2 spot in the rankings with victories over San Jose State (73-53) on Wednesday and Colorado State (78-67) on Saturday.
Deshon Taylor, who missed four games because of a dislocated elbow, returned to score nine points in 26 minutes off the bench against San Jose State. Taylor then started against Colorado State and scored 21 points.
Nate Grimes, a 6-8 senior from Las Vegas, played well in both games for the Bulldogs, scoring 17 points against Colorado State and 19 against San Jose State. He also had 22 rebounds combined in the two games.
Utah State (11-4, 1-1) dropped a spot to No. 3 this week but did recover from its loss at Nevada to beat Air Force, 79-62, three nights later. Quinn Taylor, who had just one point against Nevada, had 16 points, six rebounds and four assists against Air Force.
The UNLV Rebels (8-6, 2-0) won a pair of Mountain West games (78-76 over Colorado State and 68-56 over Wyoming) to remain ranked at No. 5. The Rebels needed a layup at the buzzer by Cheikh Mbcacke Diong to beat Colorado State. Joel Ntambwe’s 31 points keyed the victory over Wyoming.
Ntambwe, a 6-9, freshman, had 17 points on 5-of-16 shooting against Colorado State but shot 11-of-17 against Wyoming.
“My teammates just told me to keep shooting and keep it simple,” Ntambwe said. “That’s all I did.”
Boise State (7-8, 2-0) stayed at No. 6 after a 69-55 victory over Wyoming on Wednesday and an 88-64 win over San Diego State on Saturday. Derrick Alston, a 6-8 sophomore, came off the bench to score a career-high 30 points against San Diego State. Alston, who had 10 points against Wyoming, was 10-of-12 from the free throw line against San Diego State. He had not scored over 10 points in a game over his previous nine games.
San Diego State (8-6, 0-1) dropped three spots to No. 7. The Aztecs won a non-conference game over Cal State Northridge 65-60 at home before losing by 24 (88-64) at Boise State on Saturday to open their conference season. The Aztecs were 3-of-21 on threes against Boise State. Devin Watson had 24 points in the loss.
The bottom four teams in the rankings (Colorado State, Wyoming, San Jose State and Air Force, in order) combined to go 0-7 last week.
No. 8 Colorado State (5-10, 0-2) lost to UNLV (78-76) and Fresno State (78-67) in a pair of tough road games. The Rams missed their first dozen 3-pointers against Fresno State and finished 3-of-19 for the game.
Nico Carvacho, though, continued to play well in both games. The 6-11, 240-pound junior had 23 points against Colorado State and 28 points and 20 rebounds against UNLV. Carvacho, who is averaging 15.5 points and 12.9 rebounds a game this year, also continued to struggle from the free throw line last week, going just 11-of-23 in the two games combined. Carvacho is shooting just .535 (54-of-101) from the line this season.
No. 9 Wyoming (4-11, 0-2) fell to both Boise State (69-55) at home and UNLV (68-56) on the road. Justin James had a difficult time in both games, scoring just 22 points combined on 6-of-30 shooting. James, who played all 40 minutes in both games, was also just 1-of-7 on threes in the two games.
No. 10 San Jose State (3-10, 0-1), who plays at Nevada on Wednesday night (8 p.m.), lost at home to Fresno State (73-53) in its only game last week. The Spartans got 18 points from Michael Steadman, for his highest offensive output since a 21-point effort against Santa Clara on Nov. 24.
No. 11 Air Force (5-9, 0-2), lost at home to New Mexico (65-58) and on the road at Utah State (79-62). Lavelle Scottie, a 6-7 junior, had 20 points against New Mexico and 14 against Utah State. It took Scottie, though, 46 field goal attempts (he made just 15) in the two games to score those 34 points.
The Nevada Appeal Mountain West men’s basketball rankings for the week of Jan. 7 - 13:
1. NEVADA (14-1, 1-1): Jordan Caroline has proven to be the Wolf Pack’s most consistent player this season so far. The 6-7 senior had 15 points against Utah State and 17 against New Mexico last week. Last week: Nevada 72, Utah State 49 . . . New Mexico 85, Nevada 58. This week: San Jose State at Nevada (Wednesday), Nevada at Fresno State (Saturday).
2. FRESNO STATE (11-3, 2-0): The Bulldogs beat San Jose State easily despite the absence of leading scorer Braxton Huggins (17.8 points a game), who was out with the flu. Huggins returned against Colorado State and had six points in 18 minutes off the bench. Last week: Fresno State 73, San Jose State 53 . . . Fresno State 78, Colorado State 67. This week: Fresno State at Utah State (Wednesday), Nevada at Fresno State (Saturday).
3. UTAH STATE (11-4, 1-1): Guard Sam Merrill (6-5 junior) had 12 assists against Air Force last week after going without a single assist just three nights earlier against Nevada. Last week: Nevada 72, Utah State 49 . . . Utah State 79, Air Force 62. This week: Fresno State at Utah State (Wednesday), Utah State at Wyoming (Saturday).
4. NEW MEXICO (8-6, 2-0): Makuach Maluach, a 6-7 sophomore from Australia, had 14 points against Nevada and 12 against Air Force last week. Last week: New Mexico 65, Air Force 58 . . . New Mexico 85, Nevada 58. This week: UNLV at New Mexico (Tuesday), New Mexico at Colorado State (Saturday).
5. UNLV (8-6, 2-0): The Rebels beat both Colorado State and Wyoming last week despite trailing at the half (43-36 to Colorado State and 32-30 to Wyoming) in both games. Last week: UNLV 78, Colorado State 76 . . . UNLV 68, Wyoming 56. This week: UNLV at New Mexico (Tuesday).
6. BOISE STATE (7-8, 2-0): Alex Hobbs, a 6-4 senior, had 17 points against Wyoming and 18 against San Diego State last week. Last week: Boise State 69, Wyoming 55 . . . Boise State 88, San Diego State 64. This week: Boise State at San Jose State (Saturday).
7. SAN DIEGO STATE (8-6, 0-1): Jalen McDaniel (6-10, 195-pound sophomore) had 34 points combined last week against Boise State and Cal State Northridge and is now second on the team in scoring at 14.7 points a game. Devin Watson, who had 38 points last week in the two games, leads the Aztecs at 15.9 a game. Last week: San Diego State 65, CS Northridge 60 . . . Boise State 88, San Diego State 64. This week: Wyoming at San Diego State (Tuesday), San Diego State at Air Force (Saturday).
8. COLORADO STATE (5-10, 0-2): Inconsistency has hurt the Rams this year. Anthony Masinton-Bonner had 26 points against Fresno State and just 10 against UNLV while J.D. Paige had six points against Fresno State and 20 against UNLV. Last week: UNLV 78, Colorado State 76 . . . Fresno State 78, Colorado State 67. This week: Air Force at Colorado State (Tuesday), New Mexico at Colorado State (Saturday).
9. WYOMING (4-11, 0-2): Justin James is shooting just .250 (8-of-32) on 3-pointers over his last eight games combined and is just 15-of-61 (.246) overall on threes this season. Last week: Boise State 69, Wyoming 55 . . . UNLV 68, Wyoming 56. This week: Wyoming at San Diego State (Tuesday), Utah State at Wyoming (Saturday).
10. SAN JOSE STATE (3-10, 0-1): Oumar Barry, a 6-11 senior, is averaging 9.2 points a game this season but had just five points against Fresno State. It is his lowest scoring output since he had four points against Central Michigan on Nov. 18. Last week: Fresno State 73, San Jose State 53. This week: San Jose State at Nevada (Wednesday), Boise State at San Jose State (Saturday).
11. AIR FORCE (5-9, 0-2): Ryan Swan, a 6-7 junior, had 14 points and 11 rebounds against New Mexico but had to sit out the loss at Utah State because of a concussion. Last week: New Mexico 65, Air Force 58 . . . Utah State 79, Air Force 62. This week: Air Force at Colorado State (Tuesday), San Diego State at Air Force (Saturday).