Mountain West Basketball Week 5: What We Learned

Mountain West Basketball Week 5: What We Learned

Fresno State

Mountain West Basketball Week 5: What We Learned

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Mountain West Basketball Week 5: What We Learned


What we learned in the fifth week of Mountain West basketball


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Mountain West Basketball Week 5: What We Learned

The fifth week of Mountain West basketball is in the books. Here’s what we learned:

The conference is already clearly divided

It’s Nevada, Utah State, Fresno State, and then everyone else. Seriously. Those three teams make up seven of the league’s eight wins against top 100 KenPom opponents and 25 of the conference’s 55 total victories. Not only that, but Nevada, Utah State and Fresno State are simply playing significantly better basketball than the rest of the league.

Projected contender New Mexico has been an absolute disaster defensively, San Diego State has had its struggles against a challenging early slate, and teams like Boise State and UNLV have had their fair share of obstacles through the first five weeks of the season. This is all subject to change, and I’m sure it will, but the Wolf Pack, Aggies, and Bulldogs are the class of the Mountain West early.

Fresno State has the depth to survive Deshon Taylor’s Injury

This isn’t to say that Fresno State is going to be better without Taylor (that would be an absurd statement), but I don’t anticipate the Bulldogs will completely collapse without him. The all-league guard that was averaging 18 points a night will be sidelined for at least a month with a left elbow dislocation, a loss that would likely nosedive most mid-major programs led by a first-year head coach.

I don’t see it happening, though. Auburn transfer New Williams has been a breakout guy early for Justin Hutson’s squad, averaging 9.8 points in 27 minutes per game. Williams averaged 0.9 points per game in his first 25 D-I basketball games.

Elsewhere, former Long Beach State 49er Noah Blackwell has dropped 38 points over his last two games after tallying 26 points in his first seven games and Johnny McWilliams can also provide off the bench. Fresno State will remain in Save Mart Center for the remainder of the calendar year, making the absence of Taylor a tad bit easier.

New Mexico is a mess

The Lobos are 4-3 with two true road wins already, but it doesn’t take long to see how flawed Paul Weir’s team is through seven contests. New Mexico is 270th in adjusted defensive efficiency and 329th in raw defensive efficiency. UNM trailed by 30 points or more in both of its games this past week, resulting in a 100-65 pounding against in-state rival New Mexico State and an 85-60 thrashing by Saint Mary’s in Los Angeles.

New Mexico, somehow, has failed to keep an opponent below 75 points this season. Carlton Bragg, a former five-star recruit and Kansas transfer, is set to return soon. One can only hope that Bragg’s presence will help right the ship because this is currently shaping up to be a disastrous season in Albuquerque if things don’t change soon.

Player of the Week: Jordan Caroline, Nevada

Eli Boettger is the lead basketball writer at Mountain West Wire. He’s covered Mountain West basketball since 2015 and his work has been featured on Bleacher Report, NBC Sports, SB Nation, Yahoo Sports, MSN, and other platforms. Boettger is a current USBWA member.

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