Fresno State basketball guard Braxton Huggins won his Bulldogs’ debut, which meant coach Justin Hutson won his Division I coaching debut, one leading to the other on Tuesday in a 91-63 victory over Alaska-Anchorage before another small crowd at the Save Mart Center.
Huggins had 19 points by halftime and finished with 23, scoring on drives to the basket and out to the 3-point line, hinting along with Deshon Taylor, New Williams and Noah Blackwell at what could develop into a difficult offense to defend.
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The Bulldogs scored at 1.230 points per possession, a number they hit just a handful of times last season, even while hitting only 12 of 33 shots from the 3-point line. They also had 16 assists on 29 made baskets, 55.2 percent.
“Hopefully it becomes contagious,” said Hutson, the longtime San Diego State assistant who was hired in April to replace Rodney Terry. “We have some guards that can get into the paint and kick it out and make shots. It’s something that we work on and talk about every day, and I thought we were better this game than we were last game (an exhibition victory) at sharing.”
That 3-point shot, it won’t be a one-game deal.
“Hopefully, they’re inside out,” Hutson said. “If we can take good ones, yes, because we have multiple guys that can shoot it. DT (Taylor), I think had six assists and one turnover tonight and we know he can score it. Braxton got going in the first half. We have multiple guys that can really shoot it, so if we can share the ball and get some paint touches and kick it out, we’re going to shoot that many 3s.”
Alaska-Anchorage, a Division II program, was within nine at the half but fell away quickly when the Bulldogs continued to get good looks at the basket. Playing without forward Nate Grimes, who is working through an eligibility issue, Fresno State was outrebounded 45-38, and the Seawolves had 16 offensive rebounds.
Williams had 14 points with four rebounds and two assists.
Taylor, a preseason all-conference selection, had 11 points, two rebounds, six assists, four steals and one block in 34 minutes.
Huggins, a transfer from New Mexico State, had two rebounds, three assists, one block and one steal to go along with his 23 points. He took only five shots in the second half.
“Honestly, I was just super happy to be out there competing with my brothers,” Huggins said. “It has been so long since I’ve been on the basketball court and playing, practice aside. It just felt super good to be out there playing basketball with Deshon, Noah and my teammates. It was just fun to be out there.”