Two fifth-year seniors, one junior with a lot of basketball in him already. For the Fresno State Bulldogs that experience in Jahmel Taylor, Jaron Hopkins and Deshon Taylor, is expected to play large this season and it definitely did on Monday in an 89-73 victory over Cal State Northridge at the Save Mart Center.
The three veteran guards combined to score 53 points in a game the Bulldogs executed and shot the basketball at a very high level.
Fresno State (2-0) hit 35 of 56 shots (62.5 percent), the first time they have been 60-plus percent since a 2014 victory over Siena in the second game of the 2014 CBI championship series when hitting 63.9. The Bulldogs also hit 10 of 17 shots at the 3-point line (58.8 percent) with Jahmel Taylor knocking down 6 of 7 there.
“Being able to play already one year together and all of us are high-level players, we’ve adapted this year to each other,” Jahmel Taylor said.
“We mesh well on the floor, I believe. None of us are really, ‘You know what, I have to shoot this.’ ... The scoring is very spread out because all of us are capable scorers, but we also are willing passers. It just helps out the team. No one is selfish.”
The Bulldogs, who will get a big test on Friday at Arkansas, did have it spread out against the Matadors.
Deshon Taylor and Jahmel Taylor each scored 18 points, and Hopkins had a double-double with 17 points and 10 rebounds. Forward Bryson Williams also was in double figures, hitting 7 of 8 shots in scoring 15 points.
Fresno State also took good care of the basketball, turning it over just seven times, and was at 1.328 points per possession the Bulldogs did not hit 1.300 in any of their games last season.
“That experience definitely helps,” coach Rodney Terry said. “But just like anything, a start of a new year, we have to emphasize what we did a year ago with those guys especially in close ball games and understand, ‘Hey, if we didn’t get a good shot last time down, we have to get a really good one this time. We have to earn a basket this time and try to do it the right way.’
“But we’re getting better. ... There’s a lot of room to grow, though.”
Robert Kuwada: @rkuwada
FRESNO STATE AT ARKANSAS
- Friday: 5 p.m. at Bud Walton Arena, Fayetteville, Ark.
- Records: Bulldogs 2-0, Razorbacks 2-0
- Webcast/radio: ESPN3/KFIG (AM 940), KGST (AM 1600)
- Of note: Arkansas, picked to finish sixth in the SEC in a preseason media poll, has beaten up on Samford (95-56) and Bucknell (101-73). The Razorbacks are led by Jayleen Barford and Daryl Macon, who are averaging 21.5 and 18.5 points per game. They are the first Arkansas duo to return after scoring 450 or more points with 70 more assists in thee previous season since Corliss Williamson and Scotty Thurman in 1994. Samford and Bucknell are not daunting early-season tests, but Arkansas has hit 55.2 percent of its shots and is a plus-9.5 in rebounding margin.