The first-half blues didn’t hit the Fresno State men’s basketball team this time.
Red hot from the start, the Bulldogs hit 5 of their first 6 shots from behind the 3-point arc en route to an 83-65 road victory over UNLV. They made 15 of 29 3-pointers for the game.
Bulldogs Tied for Second in MW
With the win, Fresno State improved to 8-3 in the Mountain West Conference and 17-6 overall under first-year coach Justin Hutson. The Runnin’ Rebels dropped to 6-5 in conference play, 12-11 overall.
Utah State fell at San Diego State, 68-63, enabling the Bulldogs to move into a tie with the Aggies in the MW standings. Nevada (23-1 overall) leads the conference at 10-1.
Huggins Leads the Charge With 31 Points
Senior guard Braxton Huggins torched UNLV for a game-high 31 points. Backcourt mates Deshon Taylor (18 points) and Noah Blackwell (13 points) also joined in the scoring parade. Forward Nate Grimes powered the inside game with his eighth double-double of the season, 13 points and 11 rebounds.
Following the Bulldogs’ 1-point loss at home to Utah State on Feb. 5, Hutson emphasized the importance of starting strong and not falling behind. His team showed the message was heard loud and clear. The Bulldogs led 45-33 at the half and never relented.
“The last couple of games we’d start off and we’d be losing,” Huggins said. “I don’t know if it’s because of energy or effort or whatever it is, but we just always get off to slow starts. The game plan was to just start off with as much energy as possible and make sure we defend the three and stop them in transition.”
For the game, Fresno State shot 53.7% from the field and 51.7% on 3s. At the defensive end, the Bulldogs held UNLV to 20% on 3-pointers (3 of 15).
Bulldogs Impress the Rebels
UNLV coach Marvin Menzies praised the Bulldogs’ performance at the Thomas & Mack Center, which is usually a tough environment for visiting teams.
“You have to give Fresno State credit. Those guys were incredible tonight. Their offensive transition was phenomenal in the first half,” Menzies said. “Some nights you have to just take the hit and go back and evaluate what you have to do better. I am obviously disappointed on the heels of playing a really good game on the road and then not being able to build on it.”
Kris Clyburn led the Runnin’ Rebels with 15 points.
The Bulldogs, who are now 5-1 on the road in conference action, will face Boise State at home 7:30 p.m. Wednesday. The Broncos (6-5, 11-13) overwhelmed visiting San Jose State 105-57 Saturday.
— The Bulldogs had no bench points for the first time this season.
— Fresno State outrebounded UNLV 35-24. The Bulldogs are 10-1 this season when outrebounding their opponent.
— Fresno State is 7-1 this season when scoring more than 80 points in a game.