Connect with us


Taylor-Led Bulldogs Square Off Against Utah State Tonight



Photo of Fresno State guard Deshon Taylor
Share with friends

CBS Sports Network college basketball analyst Wally Szczerbiak proclaimed Deshon Taylor “NBA ready” during Fresno State’s 76-50 victory over Air Force in the Mountain West Conference men’s basketball tournament Thursday night.

Szczerbiak should know what he’s talking about. He played 10 seasons in the National Basketball Association, making the All-NBA Rookie Team and one All-Star team.

Taylor, a senior guard, lifted the No. 3 seed Bulldogs out of an early hole with an impressive 18-point, 10-assist effort in Las Vegas.

Utah State Is Next for Bulldogs

The next challenge for 23-8 Fresno State is a semifinal matchup at 8:30 tonight against Utah State (26-6).

While the Aggies probably have already secured an NCAA Tournament berth, the Bulldogs likely must win the MW Tournament to make the NCAAs.

“Two great teams. Just two great teams. Two well-coached teams that try to go out there and win and it shows.” — Deshon Taylor, on tonight’s game vs. Utah State 

The Aggies defeated New Mexico 91-83 in their Thursday quarterfinal-round game.

It was the first career double-double for Taylor, a two-time All-Mountain Conference selection. Szczerbiak noted how well Taylor handles the ball and the box score backed up that observation. Taylor committed just one turnover in a game-high 35 minutes on the court.

Agau Is Hot From 3-Point Land

Aguir Agau, a freshman, had 16 points and Nate Grimes added 13 points for the Bulldogs. Guard New Williams also excelled with 12 points and eight rebounds for Fresno State.

To defeat the Aggies, the Bulldogs likely will need more strong performances from Taylor, Grimes and their bench, which outscored the Air Force reserves, 32-9.

It’s also virtually certain that shooting guard Braxton Huggins must bounce back from a dreadful shooting performance to knock out Utah State. Huggins, normally a deadeye shooter, scored just 1 point and was 0-of-11 from the field, including 0-of-8 on 3-point shots.

Taylor provided the scouting report on Utah State, which prevailed in a back-and-forth contest with New Mexico that featured 16 ties and 19 lead changes.

“Two great teams. Just two great teams. Two well-coached teams that try to go out there and win and it shows,” he said.

Bulldogs Must Contain Merrill, Queta

Clearly, the Bulldogs must find a way to deal with Mountain West Player of the Year Sam Merrill and Defensive Player of the Year/Freshman of the Year Neemias Queta. Merril had 23 points and nine assists Thursday night, while Queta blocked six shots.

Conversely, the Aggies must deal with the Bulldogs’ often torrid perimeter shooting and unselfish offensive play. Against Air Force, the Bulldogs shot a blistering 16-of-38 (42.1 percent) from 3-point range. And 28 of their made shots followed assists.

During the regular season, the Bulldogs and the Aggies split their series — each winning by a point on the other team’s court.

Said Merrill: “Fresno poses a lot of challenges … and they obviously have really good guard play with Braxton and Deshon. But they really do a good job of spreading teams out and we struggled at times with that. … They’ve got a lot of guys that can shoot it. They play with good pace. They’re really well-coached offensively. … I anticipate another fun game.”

San Diego State vs. Nevada in Other Semifinal

Jalen McDaniels had 25 points and 14 rebounds as No. 4 seed San Diego State topped No. 5 UNLV 63-55.

Devin Watson had 19 points for San Diego State (20-12). Kris Clyburn had 19 points for the Runnin’ Rebels (17-14).

Top-seeded and No. 14 ranked Nevada survived a scare from No. 8 seed Boise State, coming back from 15-points down in the first half to advance with a 77-69 victory.

Mountain West Sixth Man of the Year Jazz Johnson scored a team-high 20 points, while senior guard Caleb Martin and senior forward Tre’Shawn Thurman scored 19 points and 18 points, respectively, to lead the Wolf Pack comeback-effort.

Nevada and San Diego State square off in tonight’s first game at the Thomas & Mack Center at 6 p.m.