It was 35 days and 10 games, and in that time the Fresno State Bulldogs went from a team capable of getting blown out by halftime to a team capable of coming out and just drilling an opponent in the first 20 minutes of a game.
Jan. 4 at Boise State, they trailed by 21 at halftime.
Feb. 8 against San Jose State, they led by 21 at halftime.
That doesn't happen very often with the same team in the same season and in the Mountain West Conference, where the men's basketball games generally are fairly competitive, those are pretty big numbers.
San Diego State is leading the conference in scoring margin at plus-9.5 in its MW games, but eight of the 11 teams in the league are between a plus-2.6 and a minus-5.1. And there have been only three MW games so far this season where a team held a halftime lead of 20 or more, the other a Jan. 25 matchup between Boise State and San Jose State in which the Broncos led 48-26 at the break.
In 43 of the 59 MW games going into Tuesday's games, the halftime margin was less than 10 points.
In 31 of the 59, it was six points or less.
So there is some improvement there by the Bulldogs, who struggled through some growing pains through the first part of the season. They're making that clear. They compete now at a higher level, are tougher mentally and physically. They defend. They rebound.
The results are what they are -- Fresno State has won three conference games in a row for the first time since the 2009-'10 season but still is 4-7 in conference play.
But that is not the only takeaway here, because getting there was something as well.
San Jose State obviously is struggling -- the Spartans are 0-11 in conference play and have not so much as held a lead in any of their past six games. But they have played 10 other MW games and no team buried them as quickly as did the Bulldogs, who played one of their most efficient games in the two plus years under coach Rodney Terry in dispatching the Spartans.
The fastest going from 0 to 20 this season:
- Fresno State led San Jose State 39-17 after 12:50 had elapsed.
- Boise State led Fresno State 39-19 after 17:08.
- Boise State led San Jose State 44-24 after 18:05.
- Colorado State led UNLV 57-37 after 27:06.
- San Diego State led San Jose State 51-30 after 27:19.
- New Mexico led San Jose State 52-30 after 28:39.
- Wyoming led Utah State 62-42 after 33:13.
- UNLV led San Jose State 61-41 after 35:48.
- UNLV led Utah State 58-38 after 36:37.
Fresno State had last won a conference game by 20 or more points in 2005-'06 when it beat Idaho 89-54, getting 22 points from Ja'Vance Coleman and 14 each from Quinton Hosley and Dwight O'Neil.
Between those games the Bulldogs had played 129 conference games, winning only 47.
- Fresno State 68, at Air Force 51
- at Colorado State 75, UNLV 57
- at Utah State 83, Nevada 75
- San Diego State 67, at Boise State 65
- at New Mexico 66, Wyoming 61
- Colorado State 68, at Air Force 56
- at Utah State 76, Boise State 70
- at Fresno State 82, San Jose State 56
- at San Diego State 73, Nevada 58
- at UNLV 48, Wyoming 46
Boise State guard Thomas Bropleh shot 0 of 7 off the bench in a loss at Utah State, matching San Jose State freshman Rashad Muhammad in a loss at Wyoming for the most misses without a make by a reserve in a MW game this season.
Bropleh had just come off a game against San Diego State in which he hit 6 of 7, but that one was at home at the Taco Bell Arena and therein could be the difference.
At home, Bropleh has hit 57.1% of his shots. On the road, he's at 34.1%.
Among the 68 MW players to have taken at least 80 shots this season, that is the largest differential between field-goal percentage at home and on the road.
Player (team), Home, Road, Difference
- Thomas Bropleh (Boise State), 57.1%, 34.1%, -23.0
- Marqueze Coleman (Nevada), 51.5%, 32.6%, -18.9
- Cameron Bairstow (New Mexico), 64.6%, 48.7%, -15.9
- TeNale Roland (Utah State), 44.1%, 28.2%, -15.9
- Spencer Butterfield (Utah State), 55.1%, 40.0%, -15.1
- Josh Adams (Wyoming), 57.7%, 42.9%, -14.8
- Gerson Santo (Colorado State), 64.2%, 50.0%, -14.2
- J.J. Avila (Colorado State), 51.1%, 37.0%, -14.1
- Jelan Kendrick (UNLV), 43.5%, 29.4%, -14.1
- Winston Shepard (San Diego State), 50.5%, 37.3%, -13.2
- Boise State lost to San Diego State by two and at Utah State by six last week, the fourth and fifth losses in conference play for the Broncos by six or fewer points. They have had a lead inside of one minute to play in three of those games, were down one with the ball with 32 seconds remaining in another and down four with possession with 1:00 to play in the fifth of those losses.
- New Mexico doesn't give up a ton of offensive rebounds -- just six in its past two wins against San Jose State (two) and Wyoming (four). In those games the Lobos allowed just two second-chance points, that basket by Wyoming coming with 10:45 remaining. New Mexico went more than 73 minutes between second-chance baskets, dating back to a Jan. 28 victory at Utah State.
- San Diego State, which extended its winning streak to a school-record tying 20 games last week, has had trouble shooting the ball much of the season, winning eight games when hitting less than 40% of its shots. But last week, the Aztecs hit 58.5% in beating Boise State and 52.1% in taking out Nevada. San Diego State had not hit better than 50% of its shots in back-to-back games against Division I opponents all season.
- The Aztecs' best shooting game in conference play -- the 58.5% at Boise State -- is the game they came closest to losing. They trailed by as many as 14 in the second half before prevailing 67-65.
- UNLV beat Wyoming at its own game -- winning 48-46, the fewest points the Rebels have scored in a victory since 2009 when they beat Air Force 46-43. The odd thing? UNLV made 21 field goals in the game, the same number it had in scoring 70 points in a victory at San Jose State, 62 in a win against Utah State and 57 in a loss at Colorado State. The Rebels went to the free-throw line only four times against Wyoming, their fewest in a game since they got four in a 2010 game against Air Force.
- There are three teams averaging fewer than nine turnovers in conference play: New Mexico at 8.6 and San Diego State and UNLV at 8.7. No MW team has averaged fewer than nine turnovers in its conference games over a full season.
- Fresno State, which plays three of its next four games on the road (at Nevada, at Wyoming and at Utah State), has hit only 41.7% of its shots in away games, ranking eighth in the conference.
When it comes to free-throw margin, home teams almost always win. That's just the way it goes. But when Fresno State was a plus-four (15 to 11) in its victory at Air Force, it marked the first time in more than three years the Bulldogs had shot more free throws than an opponent in a conference road game.
And Fresno State has been on the short end of some large discrepancies. Among them ...
- 2013-'14 at San Diego State -- minus-26 (15 to 41)
- 2012-'13 at Wyoming -- minus-25 (8 to 33)
- 2013-'14 at Boise State -- minus-18 (36 to 18)
- 2011-'12 at Nevada -- minus 12 (18 to 30)
- 2011-'12 at Idaho -- minus-11 (14 to 25)
The reporter can be reached at email@example.com 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 www.fresnobee.com/bulldogs.