Mountain West Tournament matchups


MOUNTAIN WEST MATCHUPS

(3) UNLV vs. (6) AIR FORCE

■ Line: UNLV -10; total 135½

■ What to watch: The Rebels, looking to bounce back from a 61-52 loss to Fresno State on Saturday, were outplayed and exposed on the defensive end by the Falcons in both meetings this season. Air Force seniors Michael Lyons and Mike Fitzgerald combined for 86 points in the two games, 46 by Lyons.

■ Fast facts: The Falcons have lost 14 consecutive conference tournament quarterfinal games. … Lyons has 1,527 points in four years and needs 24 to move into third on Air Force’s career scoring list. … UNLV last won the Mountain West tournament in 2008.

■ Key player: Freshman forward Anthony Bennett had 22 points and 16 rebounds in UNLV’s 76-71 overtime victory over Air Force on Jan. 12. A month later, the Falcons ran out to a 24-point second-half lead in their 71-56 win, and Bennett — benched after being assessed a technical foul early in the second half — was held to eight points and eight rebounds. Bennett has the potential to dominate, but he has faded lately, totaling just 25 points in his past five games.

(2) COLORADO STATE vs. (7) FRESNO STATE

■ Line: Colorado State -9½; total 124½

■ What to watch: Rams senior point guard Dorian Green is a game-time decision with a sprained right ankle. Most indications are that Green, who averages 13.1 points and 3.9 assists, won’t play today and might target Friday for a return. He has started all 127 games in his career.

■ Fast facts: Colorado State senior center Colton Iverson ranks sixth in the nation in field-goal percentage (.660) and 20th in rebounding (9.7 per game). … The Bulldogs lead the MW in 3-point field-goal percentage defense (29.0). … Fresno State suspended 7-foot freshman Robert Upshaw.

■ Key player: Kevin Foster, Fresno State’s 6-foot-8-inch senior forward, hit six 3-pointers and totaled 25 points in an upset of UNLV at the Thomas & Mack Center on Saturday. If he gets hot again, the Bulldogs could be dangerous underdogs.

(1) NEW MEXICO vs. (8) WYOMING

■ Line: No line

■ What to watch: The Lobos, ranked 15th in The Associated Press poll, could be in line for a No. 2 or 3 seed in the NCAA Tournament with a strong showing this week. New Mexico is No. 2 in the Ratings Percentage Index behind Duke. The Lobos swept two meetings with Wyoming, winning 63-59 on the road and 53-42 at home.

■ Fast facts: Alex Kirk, New Mexico’s 7-foot sophomore, has averaged a double-double (14.8 points, 10.2 rebounds) in his past nine games. … The Cowboys’ strongest post player, senior Leonard Washington, was held to a total of 11 points in two games against the Lobos.

■ Key player: Junior guard Kendall Williams, voted the league’s player of the year, had the most impressive game of the conference season. He made 10 3-pointers and totaled 46 points in the Lobos’ 91-82 win at Colorado State on Feb. 23.

(4) SAN DIEGO STATE vs. (5) BOISE STATE

■ Line: San Diego State -4; total 132

■ What to watch: The losing team could end up on the NCAA Tournament bubble, and the Aztecs go into this game with a better shot to make the 68-team field. Defending the 3-point line will be a key for San Diego State. The Broncos are shooting 39.3 percent from 3, best in the MW and No. 7 nationally, led by Anthony Drmic, Derrick Marks, Jeff Elorriaga and Mikey Thompson.

■ Fast facts: The Aztecs have won 90 consecutive games when leading with five minutes to play in regulation. … Chase Tapley, San Diego State’s senior guard, averaged 20.7 points in last year’s MW tournament. … The Broncos went 5-1 to finish the regular season, with a 68-64 loss at UNLV. … Boise State leads the MW and ranks 24th in the nation in free-throw percentage (.751).

■ Key player: San Diego State junior guard Jamaal Franklin is the only player in the nation leading his team in scoring, rebounding, assists and steals. He averaged 14.5 points and 10.5 rebounds in two games against Boise State this season. In last year’s tournament, his 3-pointer at the buzzer lifted the Aztecs to a 65-62 victory over the Broncos.

MATT YOUMANS/LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL

 

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