The matchup will be different and perhaps more daunting given what happened the last time Fresno State ran into Cal Poly – the result and just about everything that led up to it not at all good for the Bulldogs.
But the charge remains the same, coming out of a loss at Marquette where in the second half the Bulldogs appeared to put some pieces together at the offensive end.
In coming back from a 19-point halftime deficit, the Bulldogs moved the ball and did not settle for jump shots. They hit 19 of 30 shots, with 15 assists.
“The biggest thing for us, we have to continue to play with better pace on offense, have good ball movement and we have to attack on our terms,” coach Rodney Terry said.
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Fresno State has won its past 10 games off a loss. The last time the Bulldogs lost back-to-back games: Dec. 5 and Dec. 9 last season at Cal Poly and Arizona.
“We can’t settle. We have to play at our pace and get the shots that we want, on our terms. Attack when we want to attack.”
On Saturday, they will get some matchup zone from the Mustangs, some 3-2 and maybe some 1-3-1. And the Bulldogs have had a tendency to lose it when confronted by a zone. The ball sticks. The shot clock ticks toward zero, leading to an empty possession.
At Cal Poly a year ago, a team with a more experienced backcourt had what Terry called its worst offensive game of the season.
The Bulldogs hit 34.8 percent of their shots, including 22.7 beyond the 3-point line in a 77-65 loss.
That makes Cal Poly (5-4) an interesting test, particularly coming off that last 20 minutes at Marquette. The Bulldogs (5-3) saw zone in a win at Oregon State last month and for a stretch of about 14 minutes at the end of the first half and start of the second, and they played it well. But sandwiched around that they struggled, hitting 3 of 19 shots to open and 4 of 13 to close a 63-58 victory.
“The zone, if you’re not sticking to the game plan, can be very effective,” said guard Jahmel Taylor, who got the Bulldogs turned around at Oregon State by hitting five 3-pointers in the final 2:42 in the first half. “We have to make sure we keep moving the ball, make sure we keep making fundamental plays.
The zone, if you’re not sticking to the game plan, can be very effective. We have to make sure we keep moving the ball, make sure we keep making fundamental plays.
Fresno State guard Jahmel Taylor
“That whole game we saw only zone, so I think that helped out a lot as far as understanding and where guys will be. Throughout the game, we started finding more gaps and being more effective attacking, finding open seams and things like that.”
Said Terry: “The ball movement up there in the second half at Marquette was probably the best it has been all year. That’s why we had 24 assists. The ball wasn’t sticking. We need to continue to have good ball movement. But this time last year, we faced the same challenges of having to have better pace of play on offense and ball movement.
“We’re really good if that ball is moving. It’s great when we get good ball movement because we’re going to find somebody that can score the ball.”
Et cetera – Forward Karachi Edo, ineligible for the fall semester after falling short of NCAA continuing eligibility standards, has started to practice with the No. 1 and No. 2 units and is on track to rejoin the team likely before conference play.
“He’s on course,” Terry said. “He has done everything he needs to do to put himself back in position. He has to finish up finals next week and he’s ready to go. We put him back in when we got back (from Marquette) and we’ll shake some rust off him a little bit.
“We’ll look for him to be ready to rock and roll. Not sure when – hopefully we can get him for one or two of these (nonconference) games.”
We can’t settle. We have to play at our pace and get the shots that we want, on our terms. Attack when we want to attack.
Fresno State coach Rodney Terry
▪ The Bulldogs also are waiting on guard William McDowell-White, who is at the Elite Educational Institute in Anaheim Hills trying to complete work to get into school.
“If he did he’ll be here,” Terry said, “and if he didn’t he won’t be here.”
▪ The Mustangs have one of the top 3-point shooters in the nation in senior guard Kyle Toth, who is eighth, hitting 54.7 percent (29 of 53), and are tied for 35th in the nation with 88 3-point field goals – 9.8 per game.
Robert Kuwada: @rkuwada
FRESNO STATE VS. CAL POLY
- Saturday: 4 p.m. at Save Mart Center (15,544)
- Records: Bulldogs 5-3, Mustangs 5-4
- Webcast/radio: Mountain West Network (themw.com)/KFIG (AM 940), KGST (AM 1600)
- Of note: Cal Poly comes to Fresno on a two-game winning streak, including a 59-47 victory over Texas-San Antonio. The Bulldogs beat UTSA in their opener 69-66.