So, Air Force got a big fat zero out of its bench last week at Fresno State. Zippo. Zilch. Four players came off the bench at different points, ran around the court for a total of 26 minutes and did not add a thing to the top line of the stat sheet -- Fresno State 71, Air Force 65.
They didn't score a single point, took only three shots between them.
That hasn't happened very often in Mountain West games -- just eight times now over the past 10 seasons and two weeks of conference play has a team failed to get any scoring from its bench. Special mention here should go to Wyoming, which went back-to-back games at Texas Christian and at New Mexico in 2011-'12 without getting any bench scoring, and had a home game against UNLV in between those two in which it got only two points from its reserves.
The Falcons were not the most unproductive of those teams -- San Diego State had five players log 62 minutes in a 2008 game at Brigham Young without scoring -- but, they're up there.
The Review doesn't want to dwell on Air Force, though, because while that was going on and about 150 miles away in San Jose, Spartans freshman Rashad Muhammad was playing to the opposite extreme.
Muhammad came off the bench in a 66-64 loss to Colorado State and scored 28 points, one of the best games by a non-starter in the MW since 2003-'04.
In 33 minutes, he hit 7 of 8 shots including 5 of 6 3-pointers and hit 9 of 12 free throws.
There have been 15 players in that 10-plus years who have scored 25 or more points off the bench in a MW game, including former Fresno State forward Kevin Foster with 25 at UNLV last year.
But only three have topped Muhammad, who has started only one of the Spartans' 16 games despite the fact he leads the team and is seventh in the conference in scoring with 17.3 points per game.
- Top 10 MW reserve points
Top scoring efforts by a reserve in a Mountain West men's basketball game:
- 31: Carlon Brown (Utah) at Wyoming, Jan. 20, 2010
- 30: Afam Muojeke (Wyoming) vs. San Diego State, Jan. 9, 2010
- 29: Andrew Henke (Air Force) vs. Colorado State, Feb. 21, 2009
- 28: Rashad Muhammad (San Jose State) vs. Colorado State, Jan. 8, 2014
- 28: J.R. Giddens (New Mexico) vs. UNLV, Feb. 28, 2007
- 27: Phillip McDonald (New Mexico) vs. Colorado State, Jan. 12, 2011
- 27: Mike Rose (Brigham Young) vs. UNLV, Feb. 3, 2007
- 27: Tyler Kepkay (Utah) at Colorado State, Feb. 18, 2009
- 26: Anthony Marshall (UNLV) vs. Brigham Young, Jan. 5, 2011
- 26: Johnnie Bryant (Utah) vs. UNLV, Feb. 6, 2008
But the 28 points he scored still is more than has been scored off the bench in 12 of the 19 Mountain West games that have been played to this point -- by both teams combined.
The low is eight points in a Jan. 4 matchup in Reno between Wyoming (six points) and Nevada (two points). There were 11 points scored off the bench in the game between the Bulldogs and Air Force and 12 in two games, San Diego State (11) at Colorado State (one) and Nevada (six) at San Jose State (six).
** New Mexico 72, at Wyoming 69 (OT)
** Nevada 74, at UNLV 71
** Colorado State 66, at San Jose State 64
** at Fresno State 71, Air Force 65
** at San Diego State 69, Boise State 66
** at Nevada 62, Utah State 54
** at Colorado State 76, Fresno State 57
** Wyoming 52, at Boise State 50
** New Mexico 69, at San Jose State 65
** San Diego State 79, at Air Force 70
It's no secret Fresno State took a hit when center Robert Upshaw was dismissed from the team after a third violation of athletic department policy and forward Braeden Anderson was lost for the season to injuries suffered in an auto accident before the start of practice.
The Bulldogs are short bigs -- and the fours and fives they have are either playing out of position or inexperienced or both. Four games into conference play, Fresno State is minus-11.7 in rebounding margin. The Bulldogs are averaging 30.8 rebounds per game while their opponents are averaging 42.5.
The last MW team to finish the league season with a rebounding margin of minus-10 or more is Air Force in 2002-'03 at minus-10.7.
** Utah State had 21 offensive rebounds at Nevada, a season-high against a D-I opponent, and still lost to the Wolf Pack. Wyoming had one offensive rebound at Boise State, matching a season-low against a D-I opponent, and managed to beat the Broncos.
** In that game between Wyoming and Boise State, the Broncos' Jeff Elorriaga and the Cowboys' Riley Grabau each played 40 minutes without scoring. And they went in ranked Nos. 1 and 2 in the conference in 3-point field goal percentage, Elorriaga hitting 43 of 80 (53.8%) and Grabau 40 of 75 (53.3%). Elorriaga missed all four of his shots, while Grabau missed all three of his.
** Fresno State, which has been on the short end of some rather large discrepancies in free throws since it has been in the MW, shot 32 in its victory over Air Force. That is more than the Bulldogs had taken in their first two conference games combined (they were 8 of 12 against UNLV and 14 of 18 at Boise State), the most they have ever had in a MW game and the most they have had in a conference game since taking 42 in a victory over Hawaii in 2010-'11 when in the Western Athletic Conference.
** UNLV hit just 19.2% (10 of 52) of its 3-pointers in its first three conference games -- 1 of 16 in a win at Fresno State, 6 of 21 in a loss to Air Force and 3 of 15 in a loss to Nevada. The Rebels are 1-2 in league play and this week play at New Mexico and at San Diego State.
** The all-time series between New Mexico and Wyoming, which was started in 1950, was tied 64-64 headed into their matchup last Wednesday in Laramie. At the end of regulation the score was tied 64-64. The Lobos won it in overtime 72-69.
** Nevada, which lost 10 of its last 11 games against MW opponents last season including a first-round loss in the conference tournament and was picked to finish ninth before the season started, is leading the league at 4-0. The Wolf Pack have home wins over Wyoming and Utah State and road wins at San Jose State and UNLV, which are a combined 3-10 in league play.
** San Jose State's five starters (Chris Cunningham, Jaleel Williams, Jalen James, D.J. Brown and Devante Wilson) have played a total of 549 minutes in four conference games and together have taken only 26 free throws, 6.5 per game. New Mexico guard Kendall Williams has played a total of 111 minutes in conference play and taken 23 free throws, 7.7 per game. Boise State forward Ryan Watkins has played 84 minutes and been to the line 21 times, 7.0 per game.
THREE INCHES TOO HI-JINX
New Mexico hit 48.3% (14 of 29) of its shots in the first half at Wyoming, which for the Lobos is a pretty high number. They are 10th of 11 in the conference in field-goal percentage and in 3-point field-goal percentage at 43.7% and 32.4%.
And at halftime, according to a report in the Albuquerque Journal, they found something was amiss with the rim they would be taking aim at in the second half. Official Larry Spaulding was asked to check the height of the rim and it was found to be too high -- New Mexico said it was three inches high, Wyoming said it was one inch high. Either way, it was off.
It was not determined whether the Cowboys were at a disadvantage in the first half shooting at that rim or whether it had been raised at some point during halftime -- but, the latter seems likely, considering the Cowboys hit 52% (13 of 25) of their shots in the first half including 50% (3 of 6) on 3-pointers.
New Mexico coach Craig Neal declined comment after the game.
The reporter can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or @rkuwada on Twitter. His "Mountain West: Week in Review" report runs Wednesdays during the Fresno State football and basketball seasons. Read his daily updates at fresnobee.com/bulldogs.