GAME NOTES: Coming off a stunning win over UNLV at home on Wednesday night, the Fresno State Bulldogs try to build a two-game win streak for the first time in two months when they clash with the San Diego State Aztecs in Mountain West Conference action at Viejas Arena.
The Bulldogs, who have won just three times since the first week of December, somehow managed to take down UNLV three nights ago, 64-55. With the rare victory Fresno State is now just 2-6 in MWC action which has it tied with both Wyoming and Nevada for last place in the league standings.
As for the Aztecs, tied with Air Force for third in the MWC with five wins in eight tries, they were almost knocked off by Boise State three nights ago but managed to hold on for a 63-62 triumph. The victory was the third in the last four outings.
San Diego State, which has won 32 straight games against opponents from the state of California, barely slipped by the Bulldogs in the first meeting of the season back on Jan. 9 by a score of 65-62 on the road at the Save Mart Center. With the victory, the Aztecs are now ahead in the all-time series by a 55-48 margin, but a more impressive 35-17 at home dating back to 1940.
Back in the starting lineup, Kevin Olekaibe made the most of his opportunity against UNLV the other night as he registered a team-best 21 points as he converted 4-of-7 shots behind the 3-point line, 7-of-12 from the floor overall. Tyler Johnson registered a double-double with 15 points and 10 rebounds, followed by Kevin Foster and Allen Huddleston with 13 and 11 points, respectively. Johnson, who has made the most starts (20) of any player on the roster this season, is also the lone double-digit scorer for the Bulldogs with his 12.1 ppg, thanks to his 46.6 percent shooting beyond the arc. Olekaibe (8.8 ppg) is third on the team in scoring, but unlike last season when he took virtually unlimited shots, he has been more of a role player this year.
Despite still dealing with a wrist injury, the Aztecs turned to Chase Tapley on Thursday night to get them into the win column as he knocked down a 3- pointer with less than three seconds remaining in regulation. Tapley shot just 1-of-5 beyond the arc and 4-of-12 from the floor in the game, but still finished with 12 points, trailing only James Rahon (16 points) and Jamaal Franklin (14) in the scoring department. JJ O'Brien added 10 points and five rebounds for the hosts as well. Franklin, who cleared eight rebounds versus BSU, leads the team on the season with 9.4 rpg and is also the top man in scoring with 17.6 ppg. Tapley checks in with 13.9 ppg which means the pairing combines for a good portion of the unit's 69.9 ppg on the campaign.
Catching lightning in a bottle earlier this week, everything went right for the Bulldogs in their win against UNLV, but they'll need more than luck to make it happen versus a determined SDSU squad.
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