Fifth edition of the MWC Power Rankings by AztecReport.com.
1. New Mexico (19-3, 6-1)
This week: Home vs. Air Force (Wednesday) and at UNLV (Saturday).
The Lobos hop back up to the number one spot in the power rankings after a close win at Wyoming and a solid performance against Nevada. Most impressive was the ball movement versus the Wolf Pack as they had 22 assists on 28 made shots.
"We had a very good week last week," New Mexico head coach Steve Alford said. "As I've said before anytime you can win two games in one week in this league you feel fortunate and feel like you've done a lot of good things. I thought our team did that. We responded after not playing extremely well at SDSU. We really responded well and put together a solid 40-minute effort at Wyoming then back that up in a really good 40 minutes against Nevada."
2. Colorado State (18-4, 5-2)
This week: At Nevada (Wednesday).
The Rams do what veteran ball clubs are supposed to do: Beat the teams you're supposed to and be within striking distance versus the upper-tier squads. Last week it was a 20-point victory against Boise State and a 19-point win over Wyoming.
"We are a true team," CSU head coach Larry Eustachy said of his team. "As good as a team I have ever had from a team standpoint. Do we have a Jamaal Tinsley on this team? A Marcus Fizer? From a team standpoint I've had some very good teams but this team is right up there with the best ones I've had. It's a total effort from everyone."
3. UNLV (17-5, 4-3)
This week: At Fresno State (Wednesday) and vs. New Mexico (Saturday).
Boise State dealt UNLV their worst loss of the season on Saturday after a non-impressive win versus Nevada on Tuesday. The Rebels will head to Fresno before playing a tough set of opponents: New Mexico, at Air Force, SDSU and Colorado State.
"There is certainly sense of urgency that we need to play every game with," UNLV head coach Dave Rice said. We go into every game expecting if we play as hard as we can and we stay together, we'll have a great opportunity to win."
4. Air Force (14-6, 5-2)
This week: At New Mexico (Wednesday) and at Nevada (Saturday).
It's now five straight victories for the Falcons after taking down Fresno State and SDSU. The up-and-down style of Air Force caused a lot of problems for the Aztecs with 12 three pointers and 20 assists off 25 buckets. Size inside is still the hindering problem for AFA.
"You are who you are and we are probably a little bit smaller, a little bit thinner, not as long and as athletic than most teams in the conference," Air Force head coach Dave Pilipovich said of his teams inside presence. "That hurts us at times so we have to adjust to it, play a little differently. When things go bad for us it's usually because the lack of size and strength."
5. San Diego State (16-5, 4-3)
This week: Home vs. Boise State (Wednesday) and vs. Fresno State (Saturday).
It was an extremely disappointing week for the Aztecs after falling to Air Force 70-67 on the road. San Diego State was without Xavier Thames (back) once again as the injury looks to have head coach Steve Fisher extremely worried. SDSU is now (2-2) away from Viejas Arena during conference play with a point differential of only +4.5 points. Still need to travel to Colorado State, UNLV and New Mexico.
"I think it's a challenge wherever you go," SDSU head coach Steve Fisher said of playing on the road. "Obviously it's harder to win on the road than at home for all the obvious reasons. In our league you can add all the other elements that factor in. Everybody has good players and what has happened in our league is the crowds have increasingly more supportive, vocal and large, that's assisted. In our most recent game Air Force had a really big crowd, stormed the court after the win and I think all those things factor in."
6. Boise State (15-6, 3-4)
This week: At San Diego State (Wednesday) and vs. Wyoming (Saturday).
The Broncos bounced back after blowout losses to Nevada and Colorado State. What changed in the victory over UNLV? Jeff Elorriaga returned with 11 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists and 3 steals in 40 minutes of action.
"Really good teams play to their roles," Boise State head coach Leon Rice explained what an injury does to a team, referring to SDSU and PG Xavier Thames. "When they play to their roles they play really well but when you take one piece out with a very important role then it changes everyone elses. I think it really can affect a team. They probably go through the same thing we go through with a guy out."
7. Wyoming (15-6, 2-6)
This week: At Cal State Bakersfield (Wednesday) and at Boise State (Saturday).
The scoring issues continued this past week with a combined 105 points against New Mexico and Colorado State. The Cowboys have piled up four straight losses. The bright side was the play of Derrious Gilmore who had 26 points on six-threes versus the Rams.
"Derrious (Gilmore) is a very emotional player," Wyoming head coach Larry Shyatt said. "He has helped us a great deal obviously when our team dynamics changed when we were 12-0. Each one of our players had to access where we are at and give us a little more. I think all of them have given us a little more including Derrious. I'm proudest of the fact that Derrious came in here with some needs academically and he's on target to graduate this week."
8. Nevada (11-10, 2-5)
This week: Colorado State (Wednesday) and vs. Air Force (Saturday).
The Wolf Pack have lost all five conference games by double digits.
"I thought we gave us a chance to win within the last five minutes of each ball game," Nevada head coach David Carter said. "…Now we just have to string together some wins."
9. Fresno State (7-13, 1-6)
This week: Home vs. UNLV (Wednesday) and at San Diego State (Saturday).
The losing steak reached to four after a road loss to Air Force. Junior guard Kevin Olekaibe had a season best 18 points on 6-of-10 shooting from beyond the arc.
"Kevin's had an up-and-down year but definitely not the type of year he expected," Fresno State head coach Rodney Terry said. "Not making excuses for him but he's coming off a major injury over the summer where he had to have elbow surgery to his shooting arm. It's taken him awhile to come back from that."
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