Bulldogs rebound their way to a win against New Mexico
The 19 rebounds for Nate Grimes in the Fresno State Bulldogs’ 82-70 victory over New Mexico were a Save Mart Center record, though far off the school record.
Larry Abney has that and isn’t likely to ever lose it. Abney had 35 rebounds in a 2000 loss to Southern Methodist, the most in Division I since 1973.
But with those 19 rebounds against the Lobos, Grimes now has four of the top seven rebounding games for the Bulldogs going back through the 2007-08 season, which is remarkable considering New Mexico was only his 19th career start.
Greg Smith, who had a 20-rebound game in a loss to Nevada in the Western Athletic Conference Tournament in 2011, started 63 games and played in 64 in the 2010 and ‘11 seasons and he had 10 or more rebounds in a game only 13 times.
Grimes has had 10 or more rebounds in a game 14 times now in 19 starts and 61 games, and he played 10 minutes or fewer in 25 of those games.
Put in context another way: Grimes has played 973 minutes in his career, Smith played 942 minutes in his sophomore season and 913 minutes when he was a freshman.
Here are the Bulldogs’ top seven rebounding games since 2007-08 …
20: Greg Smith vs. Nevada, March 9, 2011
19: Grimes vs. New Mexico, Feb. 2019
17: Grimes vs. CS Monterey Bay, Dec. 18, 2017
16: Grimes vs. San Diego State, Jan. 22, 2019; Smith vs. Hawaii, March 5, 2011
15: Grimes vs. Miami, Nov. 23, 2018; Alex Davis vs. Northern Arizona, Dec. 1, 2013
The Save Mart Center record for rebounds had been 18 set by Louisiana Tech’s Paul Millsap in 2006. The most by a Bulldogs player was 17 set by Quinton Hosley against Utah State in 2006 and matched by Grimes in that game against Cal State Monterey Bay.
Bulldogs, to the line …
Fresno State scored 17 of its 47 second-half points from the foul line, and there would have been more had the Bulldogs shot better than 68.0 percent from the stripe.
Deshon Taylor, who hit 83.3 percent of his free throws last season, was 5 of 9 at the line in the second half. But the nine attempts are more important for the Bulldogs going forward than the five makes or the four misses.
Taylor missed four games in December due to a dislocated left elbow. Finding the right fit in the offense, that has been something Taylor and the Bulldogs have been working through, as well. But since his return, he had not attacked the rim as forcefully as he did against the Lobos and he had taken as many as nine free throws in a full game just once, in the Jan. 5. victory over Colorado State at the Save Mart Center.
In conference play, he was averaging 4.6 free throws per game.
A year ago, Taylor was second in the conference with 240 free throw attempts and got to the line 10 or more times in eight games and averaged 7.6 per game.
That is a plus for the Bulldogs, who attempted 25 free throws in the second half, more than they had in any conference game this season.
On a night the three ball was not falling – and there will be more – they were able to get into the lane, get to the rim and to the foul line.
Trouble dead ahead?
Utah State, which will visit the Save Mart Center on Tuesday at 7:30 p.m., ripped UNLV 82-65 on Saturday for its sixth win in a row and dropped this tidbit out there …
During the five previous games, Utah State won by an average score of … 82.0 to 65.8.
But since Braxton Huggins knocked down a three with 5.5 seconds remaining to give the Bulldogs a 78-77 victory at the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum on Jan. 9, the Aggies won those six games by an average of 16.3 points.
Utah State is playing well, but it also is worth noting that in that six-game stretch it has beaten 0-9 San Jose State twice, 1-7 Wyoming, 4-5 Colorado State and 3-6 New Mexico.
The Rebels were 5-3, but the loss at Utah State was their third in a row.
The Aggies in their winning streak have hit 48.9 percent of their shots including 39.0 at the 3-point line and are averaging 19.8 assists per game.
Layup line …
▪ The Bulldogs were 4 of 20 from the 3-point line, a season-low 20 percent. The four makes were a season low, and the 20 attempts matched a season low set in a victory over Hawaii at the Wooden Legacy over Thanksgiving.
▪ New Mexico missed 12 shots in a row in the first half, with seven players taking and whiffing on at least one shot. They missed seven shots from the 3-point line, three layups and two jump shots.
▪ The Lobos hit just 8 of 27 shots from the 3-point line, 21.6 percent. The Bulldogs are leading the Mountain West in 3-point field goal percentage defense overall (28.8) and in conference play (27.6).
▪ Huggins played for New Mexico State coach Paul Weir at New Mexico State and obviously had played against the Lobos.
The 22 points on Saturday are the most he has scored against the Lobos – he had averaged 6.0 points in six career games, scoring as many as 14 twice.
“It was good,” he said. “I just wanted to win. I have bragging rights. We beat them. We have to go down to The Pit and do it again, right right now I have the last laugh so it feels pretty good.”