Seven edition of the MWC Power Rankings by AztecReport.com.
1. New Mexico (22-4, 9-2)
This week: At Colorado State (Saturday).
It was a grind it out week for the first place Lobos with narrow victories at Fresno State and home vs. Boise State. Now New Mexico will have a week to prepare for the huge conference battle at Colorado State. Head coach Steve Alford plans to give his team two full days off for the first time since the 2009-10 season.
"I thought it was a pivotal two-game stretch before heading into our bye week," New Mexico head coach Steve Alford said. "We haven't had a bye week in awhile. We are beat up a little bit. We knew it was going to be a very difficult week and it was. We had to play to get both of those games. Feel fortunate to get both of them. Looking forward to getting some time off before heading into the week."
2. Colorado State (21-4, 8-2)
This week: At UNLV (Wednesday) and vs. New Mexico (Saturday).
Six straight victories for the Rams after close games last week against strong opposition: SDSU and AFA. They are clearly playing their best basketball, as it will have to continue to win a conference crown. Now they'll matchup versus UNLV and New Mexico. Two more victories will put Colorado State by themselves in first place of the MWC.
"There's a lot of basketball to be played," CSU head coach Larry Eustachy said of the season. "We certainly don't want to be comfortable. I'm excited that our team is right up towards the top in the conference standings. Our goal is to win the conference. It's going to be extremely difficult but proud of our guys thus far and we'll continue to be regards of what happen."
3. UNLV (19-7, 6-5)
This week: Home vs. Colorado State (Wednesday) and at Wyoming (Saturday).
It was another up and down week for the Rebels as the road woes continued after AFA demolished UNLV by 15. But they answered back with a huge home win against rival SDSU. Freshman Anthony Bennett was dominant in the second half: 16 points, 9 rebounds and 2 blocks.
"It doesn't get any easier moving forward," UNLV head coach Dave Rice said of the upcoming game against CSU. "We play against a team that is playing better than anybody in our league, probably as well as anybody across the country in Colorado State with their experience and start five seniors. They are tough. Coach Eustachy has done a fantastic job of getting into how they play and he's also done a great job offensively."
4. San Diego State (18-7, 6-5)
This week: Home vs. Wyoming (Tuesday) and vs. Nevada (Saturday).
The Aztecs just haven't been able to get over the hump, as CSU and UNLV both out executed SDSU down the stretch. That now makes five of the seven Aztec losses this season coming in the final minute or so. It hasn't helped that injuries have hurt this team but add James Rahon to the injury report, listed as day-to-day and not expected to play on Tuesday.
"I would say we're mad," SDSU forward Jamaal Franklin said on the team's mood after two straight losses. "We're disappointed. I think every team is mad when they lose, but you've got to move on. The best thing about basketball is we're able to play twice a week. We play Saturday and tomorrow, so we've got to take our frustration out on Wyoming and get this win."
5. Air Force (15-9, 6-5)
This week: At Boise State (Wednesday).
Guard Michael Lyons earned Mountain West Player of the Week honors after 36 points per game last week. AFA blew out UNLV and Lyons almost beat CSU single handily with a 45-point performance.
"I think our seniors have come of age," Air Force head coach Dave Pilipovich explained the improvement of this team compared to last year. "They have been here and obviously played a lot of games… Think they made a commitment in the offseason to be better and finish out on a positive note. They have carried this team, been our leaders on and off the floor. I think offensively we have been better this year with maybe a little bit faster pace of play so I think that's definitely helped us."
6. Boise State (16-8, 4-6)
This week: Home vs. Air Force (Wednesday) and at Fresno State (Saturday).
The Broncos had the lone loss to New Mexico on their schedule last week. Derrick Marks tied the game (46-46) with 5:24 left but the Lobos used grit, determination and execution to go on a 8-0 run in the next 4:34. Now BSU must go on a winning streak before facing CSU, UNLV and SDSU the final three games of conference play.
"He's one of those guys that can score in so many ways," BSU head coach Leon Rice said of AFA guard Michael Lyons. "He can score in transition, scores out of their offense, he can breakout and score one-on-one, go in the post. Guys that go out and get 45 (points) are never one-dimensional and never easy to stop."
7. Wyoming (18-7, 4-7)
This week: At San Diego State (Tuesday) and vs. UNLV (Saturday).
The Cowboys had a solid week with back-to-back home wins over Nevada and Fresno State. It sort of gets wiped away due to star forward Leonard Washington hurting his ankle that will keep him out of Tuesday's game against SDSU and possibly longer.
"We've got to convert on the offensive end," SDSU forward Jamaal Franklin on what it's going to take to beat Wyoming this go around. "We've got to score in the half court, because we're not going to get too much early offense in transition. So we've got to score in the half court and make sure we limited them to one shot defensively."
8. Nevada (12-12, 3-7)
This week: Home vs. Fresno State (Tuesday) and at San Diego State (Saturday).
The disappointing season for the Wolf Pack continues as the squad falls to .500 overall. They were blown out at Wyoming in their only contest last week. Nevada will face FSU on Tuesday before finishing off their conference season at SDSU, at BSU, UNLV, UNM and at CSU. Good luck!
"I don't look at them as a team struggling…" Nevada head coach David Carter said of SDSU. "I don't think they are struggling by any means. I think they are a very good basketball team. I do think when (Xavier) Thames is not playing it hurts them because of their depth."
9. Fresno State (8-13, 2-7)
This week: At Nevada (Tuesday) and vs. Boise State (Saturday).
It had to be a demoralizing week for Rodney Terry and company. The Bulldogs were their right until the end in both losses to New Mexico and Wyoming but couldn't pull the wins out for number of reasons. It's all about turning this program around and FSU is headed that way. They are competing!
"I would say so," FSU guard Kevin Olekaibe answered when asked if the Bulldogs are improving and learning each game. "I mean we are improving a lot. We work hard in practice. I mean we can't keep making the same little mistakes towards the end of the game, that's where we got to get better. I think we will improve on that."
Mountain West: Power Rankings
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