Fresno State forward Karachi Edo, who suffered a right ankle injury on Feb. 8 in a four-overtime loss at Wyoming, has started to do some rehab work.
Edo will not play on Saturday in the final regular-season game against UNLV and is questionable to play in the Mountain West Conference tournament next week in Las Vegas. But the Bulldogs, who will be either a No. 3 or No. 4 seed in the tournament, and are 5-1 this season against the three teams ahead of them in the conference standings, have a chance to continue playing after that in the NCAA Tournament or NIT.
“We’re kind of revving up his rehab situation right now. We’ll just see where it takes us going into next week,” coach Rodney Terry said.
Terry said Bulldogs athletic trainer Andrew Ure and staff “have done a great job all year getting guys back on the floor when they’re ready, and when we get the clearance from them that he’s healthy enough to be back on the floor and contributing then we’ll make plans for him to be out there.”
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UNLV leads the all-time series with Fresno State 30-11, but the Bulldogs have won the past three meetings, including a 95-82 win last season in the quarterfinals of the conference tournament.
Edo, who was ineligible for the fall semester after falling short of NCAA continuing eligibility standards, made his debut on Dec. 20 in a loss at Oregon.
Playing 27.8 minutes in 13 games, the 6-foot-6 senior has averaged 9.8 and 6.9 rebounds. The per game rebounding average is the highest on the team.
Watson and Edo, four-year players, have a chance to play on three 20-win teams with the Bulldogs at 18-11 with at least two more games to play.
But that record is only part of their impact.
“These guys really have raised the bar here,” Terry said. “Between Paul and Karachi, those guys have been here four years. They played in the CBI. They played in the NCAA Tournament. They had a chance to do some really good things. They were really high-level recruits that we were able to get and they really, again, came in and had really good careers for us. But they were guys that we had to really beat some good people to get to come here and they’ve raised the bar for our program.
We’re in the third phase of our season right now and they fully understand that. We went through separation month in February and now we’re into advance and finish time now in March. You do that through executing what you’ve done all year long in practice and in games and I think our guys are focused on that right now.
Fresno State coach Rodney Terry
“Cullen came in and was a big part of our postseason play a year ago, the run we made, and is another guy we were able to step up on and beat some pretty competitive people on to have him here. Paul had Pac-12 offers. Karachi had Big 12 offers. Cullen had a Big Ten offer. These are legit offers, not just interest. They had legit offers on the table.”
“It’s a big deal, not only for me,” Watson said. “I’m happy for my other two guys, but I definitely don’t feel it’s a moment for us. It’s a moment for the team, a moment for the community. It’s more than just us. It’s bigger than just being here for four years. It’s something special. But it’s another game. We can’t get too high. We can’t get too low. It’s the next game on our schedule so we have to prepare and come in the same way.”
Et cetera – Fresno State will announce at the game it will be playing next season in the Cancun Challenge, an eight-team tournament played Nov. 21-22 in the convention center at the Hard Rock Hotel Riviera Maya in Cancun, Mexico. The Bulldogs will play in the Riviera Division with Evansville, George Mason and Louisiana Tech opposite the Mayan Division with Binghamton, Cal State Northridge, Montana State and Southeast Missouri State.
▪ The Bulldogs’ seed for the MW tournament could be determined before they tip off against UNLV.
Bulldogs point guard Jaron Hopkins ranks first in the Mountain West and 15th in the nation in steals with 2.2 per game, 63 total. UNLV is 10th in the conference in turnover margin at minus-1.17 per game.
Boise State, which is in third place with an 11-6 conference record, plays at Air Force at 1 p.m. If the Broncos win, they will be the No. 3 seed and Fresno State will be the No. 4 seed. If the Broncos lose, Fresno State, with a victory over the Rebels, would move up to the No. 3 seed – it holds the head-to-head tiebreaker, having swept the season series.
The No. 3 seed will play its first tournament game on Thursday at 8:30 p.m. against the winner of a game between the No. 6 and No. 11 seeds. The No. 4 seed will open play on Thursday at 2:30 p.m. against the No. 5 seed.
Air Force is 4-13, but the Broncos did lose their last game a year ago on the road against a San Jose State team that was 8-21. The Falcons this season also have home wins over Fresno State, San Diego State, UNLV and Utah State and lost at Boise 76-66 – but had the score tied with seven minutes to go.
Robert Kuwada: @rkuwada
FRESNO STATE VS. UNLV
- Saturday: 4 p.m. at Save Mart Center
- Records: Bulldogs 18-11, 10-7 Mountain West; Rebels 11-19, 4-13
- TV/radio: ESPN3/KFIG (AM 940), KGST (AM 1600)
- Notable: The Rebels snapped a nine-game losing streak on Wednesday with a 66-59 victory over Utah State at the Thomas & Mack Center. UNLV is tied with Air Force for 10th in the MW entering the final day of the regular season and has split the two meetings with the Falcons. UNLV is 2-9 on the road including 1-7 in conference road games and is 10th in the league in scoring offense (69.7 ppg) and tied for 10th in scoring defense (75.7 ppg). The Rebels also have hit just 39.8 percent of their shots this season, the worst mark in the conference. Guard Jovan Mooring is leading UNLV in scoring with 12.4 points per game, but has hit only 37.4 percent of his shots. There are 34 players in the MW scoring at least 10 points per game and Mooring ranks 32nd in field-goal percentage, just ahead of teammate Jalen Poyser, who has hit 35.5 percent of his shots in scoring 10.7 points per game.