Fresno State sophomore guard Paul Watson controls the ball during the ‘Dogs’ matchup against the UC Irvine Anteaters on Dec. 3, 2014 at the Save Mart Center. (Darlene Wendels/The Collegian)
After a 4-1 start in Mountain West play, the Fresno State men’s basketball team is now in a three-way tie for the top spot in the conference standings.
The Bulldogs, who are currently on a four-game win streak, got back to .500 Wednesday night on the road when it took down rival San Jose State.
Four players got in double figures for the Bulldogs, led by Paul Watson’s game-best 19 points that helped propel the ’Dogs’ 73-62 victory.
Fresno State built a double-digit lead five minutes into the game and maintained it until about three minutes left in the half, when sophomore Brandon Mitchell hit a 3-pointer to give the Spartans the 27-25 lead. Watson then tied the game at 27 with a jumper, and Marvelle Harris went on to execute a last-second layup to give his team the 32-30 halftime lead.
The ‘Do went on a 17-7 run to start the second period and outscored SJSU 41-32 in the stanza to pull away.
Junior point guard Cezar Guerrero made his season debut after missing the previous 18 games because of administrative issues. In his first game back, Guerrero went 4-of-9 for 15 points, including 4-of-7 from downtown.
“I felt like we handled the pressure really good,” Guerrero said, “especially coming from the slow start in the first half.”
Second-year guard Rashad Muhammad had a team-high 16 points for the Spartans (2-15, 0-5 MW), and forward Jaleel Williams added 13.
Fresno State (9-9, 4-1 MW) now stands in a tie for first place in the Mountain West Conference with New Mexico and Wyoming.
Bulldogs fourth-year head coach Rodney Terry’s squad will have its second opportunity to take down a nationally ranked opponent this season on Saturday when it hosts Larry Nance Jr. and the 25th-ranked Wyoming Cowboys (15-3, 4-1 MW). Tipoff is set for 4 p.m.
“We know every night in this league that you are going to have a competitive game whether you are at home or on the road,” Terry said. “Wyoming is coming in and they’ve been the best in our league up to this point, so we know that we’re going to have a well-coached team come in that competes at a high level.
“We’re just going to come in and compete at a high level. We’re going to try to apply some pressure on defense just as we have been the whole time, and we’re not going to change anything that we’ve done up to this point.”