In their final preseason tune-up before beginning the 2012-13 regular season, the Fresno State Bulldogs outhustled the Fresno Pacific Sunbirds 77-68 in an exhibition game Saturday night at the Save Mart Center.
The Bulldogs were led by Allen Huddleston, who scored 19 points on 5-of-9 shooting. Huddleston also demonstrated his shooting range by hitting three of four shots from the 3-point line. Kevin Foster and Jerry Brown were the other big contributors for the Bulldogs. Foster scored 16 points on 6-11 shooting while Brown totaled 13 points on 4-10 shooting.
Before an announced crowd of 5,834, the Bulldogs played an up-tempo, and at times, careless game that was headlined by exciting plays, timely shooting and a lot of turnovers.
Fresno Pacific harassed the Bulldogs all night, matching Fresno State’s intensity and forcing the ’Dogs to commit some costly turnovers. Overall, the ’Dogs had 25 turnovers.
Coach Rodney Terry was clearly irate over the Bulldogs’ inability to protect the basketball. That is something the Bulldogs will have to change if they are to be a successful team.
“We can’t be a team that’s going to beat ourselves,” Terry said. “Tonight, we didn’t get better.”
One thing that made Terry happy was the shooting by the Bulldogs. Considering Fresno State was playing without Robert Upshaw, Kevin Olekaibe and Braeden Anderson, having players like Huddleston and Foster stepping up their play by providing consistent shooting all night was a welcome sight.
The Bulldogs also displayed a solid low-post presence, courtesy of Tanner Giddings. The freshman center was a force in the middle all night, grabbing 10 rebounds and blocking five shots. If this game is any indication, Bulldogs’ fans can expect a lot more of this during the season.
“The coach emphasizes playing hard on the defensive and offensive end,” Giddings said. “That’s what I do.”
The Sunbirds proved to be better competition than what Fresno State probably thought. And they also displayed their own shooting abilities. John Taylor led the Sunbirds with 20 points despite going 7-24. Malcolm Griffin was the other big shooter, scoring 15 points on 5-10 shooting.
The Sunbirds may have been a thorn in the Bulldogs’ side, but Terry is not worried about teams that apply pressure and defensive intensity.
“We’ll get better as the year goes along,” Terry said. “We’ll get better at handling pressure.”
The Bulldogs kick off the season Friday by traveling to Austin, Texas, to take on the Texas Longhorns, who are ranked No. 24 in the preseason USA Today Coaches Poll.