Cowboys visit Bulldogs in pivotal Mountain West clash

Jan 17, 2015 - 3:53 PM Fresno, CA ( - First place in the Mountain West Conference is up for grabs on Saturday, as the 25th-ranked Wyoming Cowboys drop in on the Fresno State Bulldogs at the Save Mart Center.

Both teams are tied with New Mexico atop the MWC standings with four wins in five tries, but with the Lobos watching the action on Saturday before returning to the floor on Sunday versus Boise State, it opens the door for one of these teams to claim the top spot all alone for the time being.

Wyoming had used a seven-game win streak to catapult into the 25th spot in the AP Poll, but chances are the Pokes will lose that designation come Monday regardless of the outcome this weekend due to the fact that they bowed to San Diego State on Wednesday night, 60-52, at home.

The loss snapped a 13-game win streak in Laramie for the Cowboys.

As for the Bulldogs, they are seeking a 5-1 start to conference play for the first time since the 2004-05 campaign when they were still with the Western Athletic Conference. After a rough start to the 2014-15 slate that saw them drop five in a row at one point, the Bulldogs have bounced back to even their overall mark at 9-9, thanks to a four-game win streak. Three nights ago, the team dropped a woeful San Jose State program in a 73-62 final on the road.

FSU actually leads the all-time series by an 11-8 margin dating back more than four decades. The Bulldogs are a perfect 9-0 at home in the relationship, posting a 67-62 victory in their own building last season when the teams split a pair of battles. Wyoming logged a 72-66 win at home last February.

Despite limiting the Aztecs to only 36.7 percent shooting from the floor overall and 5-of-17 behind the 3-point line, Wyoming still could not get over the hump and suffered its first home loss of the campaign earlier in the week. The Pokes were led by Larry Nance Jr. with 19 points and eight rebounds, both of which were game highs, while Josh Adams contributed another 14 points and five boards, but they were the only two Wyoming players to make more than just three field goals.

Scoring in double figures in six straight and eight of the last nine games overall Nance Jr., the MWC Preseason Player of the Year, is producing 19.8 points and 8.4 rebounds per game against the rest of the MWC. He is not only converting 62.7 percent of his field goal tries in those matchups but also 85.2 percent at the free-throw line, pushing the team to 78.3 percent success at the charity stripe in those five games. Adams pitches in with another 14.6 ppg as the team generates 63.4 ppg and holds MWC foes to 59.6 ppg.

Fresno State led by just two at the break against a San Jose State program that is now a mere 2-15 on the season, but the visitors picked up the pace in the second half in order to secure the comfortable double-digit victory. Paul Watson led four players in double figures with 19 points, adding seven rebounds, while Cezar Guerrero and Marvelle Harris both dropped in 15, the latter adding six boards, four assists and four steals before fouling out. Karachi Edo made all four of his field goal tries and was 2-of-2 at the free- throw line in order to finish with 10 points in a reserve role.

Harris continues to be the go-to guy for the majority of the offense this season for FSU, generating 18.3 ppg as he shoots 46.4 percent from the field and also adds 76.9 percent accuracy at the free-throw line. The do-everything player also paces the Bulldogs with his 5.2 rpg, 66 assists and 38 steals, but he needs someone else to step up and make a significant impact and that player might be Guerrero. The guard missed the first 17 games of the season due to an eligibility issue, but now he is back in action and could be the missing piece for FSU moving forward.

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