Fresno State Basketball

Taylor and Huggins go out in style on Senior Night as Bulldogs rip San Jose State

Fresno State unleashed a record-setting barrage of threes on San Jose State on Saturday and Deshon Taylor and Braxton Huggins went out in style in a 121-81 Senior Night basketball rout of the Spartans at the Save Mart Center.

Taylor hit 10 of 18 shots in scoring a career-high 37 points and Huggins knocked down a school-record 10 shots from the 3-point line in scoring a career-high 34 points, the first two Bulldogs to go for 30 or more in the same game in school history.

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Fresno State guard Braxton Huggins celebrates after hitting a 3-point basket in the Bulldogs’ 121-81 victory over San Jose State’s Saturday, March 9, 2019 in Fresno. Huggins hit a school-record 10 threes in scoring a career-high 34 points in the victory. ERIC PAUL ZAMORA ezamora@fresnobee.com

Noah Blackwell, who hit 7 of 8 threes, also had a career-high 25 points

Coach Justin Hutson took his seniors out down the stretch to standing ovations, first Huggins, then Sam Bittner and then Taylor.

“It meant everything,” said Taylor, who walked on at Fresno State after spending his first season of college basketball at UM-Kansas City. “Amazing being a walk-on and then that first year not being able to play so much in the beginning and then things just opened up and Coach gave me a chance to play and I just took advantage of everything that was thrown my way. To be able to stay here my senior year, get this crowd and that performance, it means everything.”

Fresno State did not have a lot to gain on Saturday with a lock already on the No. 3 seed next week at the Mountain West Conference Tournament; the Bulldogs couldn’t move up even with a win, couldn’t move down even with a loss.

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Fresno State guard Deshon Taylor drives by San Jose State’s Brae Ivey, left, and Michael Steadman, right, in the first half of the Bulldogs’ 121-81 victory over the Spartans Saturday, March 9, 2019 in Fresno. Taylor scored a career-high 37 points, Braxton Huggins had a career-high 34 and Noah Blackwell a career-high 25. ERIC PAUL ZAMORA ezamora@fresnobee.com

They still pulled a lot out of the victory, though. Records, mostly. Huggins’ 10 threes was only a start. The Bulldogs’ 121 points were the most ever at the Save Mart Center and the most ever allowed by San Jose State. The 40-point margin of victory was the largest for Fresno State in a Mountain West game. They were 23 of 38 at the 3-point line, a school and conference record for threes. They set Save Mart Center records for points in the first half with 59 and then again in the second with 62.

With Huggins (seven) and Blackwell (five) combining for 12 threes in the first half, the Bulldogs by halftime had tied the Save Mart Center record for threes in a game set in 2006 against Cal Poly.

Along the way they also blew by the school record for threes in a season; they went in with 298, set a record with their 304th on a make by Taylor at the 14:01 mark in the first half, finished with 321 and still are going next week at the conference tournament. As the No. 3 seed, they will play Thursday at 8:30 p.m. against the winner of a game between No. 6 Air Force and the No. 11 Spartans

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Fresno State senior foward Sam Bittner, center, walks off the court after the Bulldogs’ 1221-81 win over San Jose State Saturday, March 9, 2019 in Fresno. ERIC PAUL ZAMORA ezamora@fresnobee.com

“It was fun. It was fun to see that ball go in. It wasn’t fun watching that defense that we played in the first half, but we made enough shots to make it fun and the guy locked down and they shared the ball,” Hutson said. “It was fun to see them share the ball.”

Allowing 3-point shots was nothing new to the Spartans, who were 10th in the conference defending the threes in conference play and had allowed 16 in a game to Colorado State and 15 at UNLV and to and at Boise State.

But the Bulldogs were at a different level – they hit 60.5 percent of their shots from the 3-point line, their highest percentage of the season, while taking the second-most shots from the 3-point line.

In the second half, they made sure to get Huggins his shots at the record.

“That’s what family is.,” Huggins said. “Family is together and they realized that I only needed two threes to get it and we all came together and said let’s figure out how to get it and find the best shot and that’s what we did.”

How big was the crowd?

Fresno State announced attendance as 7,615, third-biggest announced crowd of the season behind Nevada (9,586) and New Mexico (7,657).

Robert Kuwada: @rkuwada

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