Fresno State Basketball

Bulldogs tighten defensive effort, rip UC Merced in exhibition

Fresno State guard Jaron Hopkins makes a move around UC Merced’s Aaron Laflin while going to the hoop during the first half of their exhibition game at the Save Mart Center on Friday, Nov. 3, 2017. Hopkins scored eight points with five rebounds and two assists in the Bulldogs’ 79-39 victory.
Fresno State guard Jaron Hopkins makes a move around UC Merced’s Aaron Laflin while going to the hoop during the first half of their exhibition game at the Save Mart Center on Friday, Nov. 3, 2017. Hopkins scored eight points with five rebounds and two assists in the Bulldogs’ 79-39 victory. ckohlruss@fresnobee.com

Fresno State turned up the heat a bit in its third and final exhibition before opening its basketball season, taking apart UC Merced at the defensive end of the floor.

In a 79-39 victory on Friday at the Save Mart Center, the Bulldogs made decent looks at the basket very hard to come by. UC Merced hit only 13 of 53 shots, 24.5 percent. The Bulldogs blocked 10 shots, had seven steals. They did not allow a single basket in transition, and put the Bobcats on the free throw line only 10 times.

UC Merced, an NAIA program, also had more turnovers than made baskets, 24 to 13.

The Bobcats scored 32 points off its field goals, and the Bulldogs scored 29 points off those 24 UC Merced turnovers.

“We want to try to be a really good defensive team this year so we’re stressing really hard get lost guarding hard on defense,” coach Rodney Terry said.

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Fresno State men’s basketball coach Rodney Terry, right, encourages his team during the second half of its exhibition game against UC Merced at the Save Mart Center on Friday, Nov. 3, 2017. CRAIG KOHLRUSS ckohlruss@fresnobee.com

“Transition defense for everybody this time of year around the country, teams are really trying to work hard on getting back and getting their defense set. That has been something we’ve spent a lot of time on in practice, we got a chance to do it against a really good team in Saint Mary’s, as well. You’ve got to get back and try to get some stops, but you have to get your defense set.”

The Bulldogs held a 40-32 rebounding advantage on UC Merced, but the Bobcats did have 14 offensive boards to the Bulldogs’ 11. They turned those rebounds into 12 second-chance points.

The Bulldogs did that – UC Merced, which had all five starters and 86 percent of its scoring back from a year ago, had stretches where it missed seven, five and eight shots in a row.

Stat of the game – The Bulldogs’ Jahmel Taylor scored 20 points in 24 minutes. He hit 6 of 9 shots, all of them coming from the 3-point line, and was 2 of 2 at the free throw line.

Stat of the game, II – Deshon Taylor made just 2 of 7 shots, 1 of 5 at the 3-point line. He scored only eight points, had three rebounds and one assist.

But his plus/minus in the 29 minutes that he was on the floor was a plus-36.

Notable – Fresno State, which opens its season on Nov. 10 against UC Santa Cruz, was 2-1 in its exhibitions with victories over the Bobcats and Pacific Union, another NAIA program.

The loss came at Saint Mary’s, 86-76, in a game that was played to benefit fire relief charities in Northern California.

Quotable – Jahmel Taylor: “I was just excited to play defense and the shots came to me. I was really excited to play with my team and try to get as many stops as we can, get in transition and try to push the ball. The threes came easy to me because the team was moving the ball and I got open looks and things like that. I was pretty happy about making shots, but I was more happy about the defense and how we played tonight.”

Robert Kuwada: @rkuwada

Fresno State men’s basketball schedule

Home games at Save Mart Center

Date

Opponent

Time

Oct. 25

at Saint Mary’s (exhibition)

L, 85-76

Oct. 30

Pacific Union (exhibition)

W, 99-56

Nov. 3

UC Merced (exhibition)

W, 79-39

Nov. 10

UC Santa Cruz

5 p.m.

Nov. 13

Cal State Northridge

7 p.m.

Nov. 17

at Arkansas

5 p.m.

Nov. 21

Evansville at Cancun, Mexico

5:30 p.m.

Nov. 22

George Mason or Louisiana Tech at Cancun

3 or 5:30 p.m.

Nov. 26

Montana State

Noon

Nov. 30

Weber State

7 p.m.

Dec. 2

at Long Beach State

4 p.m.

Dec. 5

Cal State Bakersfield

7 p.m.

Dec. 9

at Cal Poly

7 p.m.

Dec. 13

Arkansas-Pine Bluff

7 p.m.

Dec. 16

Oregon

3 p.m.

Dec. 18

Cal State Monterey Bay

7 p.m.

Dec. 27

Nevada

7 p.m.

Dec. 30

Air Force

4 p.m.

Jan. 3

at Utah State

6 p.m.

Jan. 6

at Colorado State

2:30 p.m.

Jan. 9

Boise State

8 p.m.

Jan. 13

New Mexico

4 p.m.

Jan. 17

at San Diego State

8 p.m.

Jan. 20

at Air Force

1 p.m.

Jan. 23

UNLV

8 p.m.

Jan. 27

Utah State

4 p.m.

Jan. 31

at Nevada

8 p.m.

Feb. 3

at Wyoming

11 a.m.

Feb. 6

San Diego State

8 p.m.

Feb. 14

at San Jose State

7 p.m.

Feb. 17

Colorado State

4 p.m.

Feb. 21

at UNLV

7 p.m.

Feb. 24

Wyoming

4 or 7 p.m.

March 3

at New Mexico

6 p.m.

March 7-10

Mountain West tournament at UNLV

TBD

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