UW-Fresno State postgame thoughts

When does a victory feel like a loss?

When you are the Wyoming men’s basketball team and your best player — junior forward Larry Nance Jr. — goes down with 14:51 to play with a knee injury that in all probability will end his season.

That’s what happened against Fresno State. The Cowboys won 72-66, which was impressive and should be appreciated as they won their third straight and improved to 17-9 overall and 8-5 in the Mountain West.

“It don’t think it looks good,” said UW coach Larry Shyatt, who added Nance will have an MRI Wednesday morning.

Nance was dominant before going out. He had 17 points — 15 in the first half — on 7 of 9 shooting. He didn’t put any weight on the knee as he was helped off the floor. He stayed either behind or on UW’s bench until the end of the game with a towel over his head.

Fans chanted “Larry, Larry” after the game as he was helped off the court by trainer Lance Schuemann and senior guard Nathan Sobey.

It was on the same end of the court where some other prominent UW players have injured their knees — Cheyenne’s Marcus Bailey in the early 2000s, Queint Higgins in the early 1990s and Mike Jackson in the early 1980s.

That A-A renovation, which includes a rotation of the court, can’t come soon enough.

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UW-Fresno St. men’s basketball Q&A

WyoSports senior editor Robert Gagliardi did a question-and-answer session with Robert Kuwada, who covers Fresno State men’s basketball for the Fresno Bee, about Tuesday’s game with the University of Wyoming at 7:05 p.m. at the Arena-Auditorium in Laramie. The game will be televised on Root Sports.

Follow on Twitter: @rkuwada

The Bulldogs have won five straight, which started with a 67-62 win over Wyoming Jan. 29. What have the Bulldogs done well to go on this run?

Simple as it sounds, they’re just competing much better. It started with a 19-point loss at Colorado State, in which the Rams just bullied them down the final 10 minutes and ran away from them. Colorado State was a plus-16 on the boards, scored 30 points in the paint and hit 52.4 percent of its shots in the second half, which for that team is a big number. In beating the Rams on Saturday, they turned a lot of those numbers completely around. In the first half, Fresno State had an 18-4 edge in points in the paint, hit 53.8 percent of the shots it took and held up better on the glass. The Bulldogs also forced 11 turnovers in the first half against a team that hadn’t turned it over that many times in 20 of its first 25 games.

They flew home after that loss in Fort Collins and went straight from the airport to the gym and practiced for two hours, which they never do, working on box-outs and getting after the 50-50 balls and just playing a stronger game. They needed to get tougher, and they have.

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UW-Fresno State men’s hoops Q&A

WyoSports senior editor Robert Gagliardi did a question-and-answer session with Robert Kuwada, who covers Fresno State men’s basketball for the Fresno Bee, about Wednesday’s game with the University of Wyoming at 8 p.m. at the Save Mart Center in Fresno, Calif.

Follow on Twitter: @rkuwada

Despite its record the Bulldogs have been close in a lot of conference games, including going to overtime in the last two. What are the struggles with this team right now?

The Bulldogs are just young and have had trouble making plays to finish games. The double-overtime loss to Nevada they had the lead at the end of regulation and gave up a layup to Deonte Burton to tie with about 15 seconds to go and then couldn’t get much of a shot coming out of a timeout, and then in the first overtime they had a lead and let Cole Huff get to the rim for a layup with one second to go. Layups … That logically can’t happen, but it did.

They made similar mistakes in the overtime loss at UNLV, only at the offensive end. UNLV gave them a lot of chances to win it in regulation and the overtime, but they couldn’t make a play. A freshman turned the ball over on one key possession. They got switched into a tough shot on another. They rushed a put-back just ahead of the buzzer and missed that.

They’re taking some lumps learning how to really compete and succeed at this level.

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MW men’s basketball power rankings

WyoSports senior editor Robert Gagliardi ranks the nine Mountain West men’s basketball teams. Included are their records and Rating Percentage Index according to RealTimeRPI.com, and rankings are from The Associated Press poll. Look for these rankings every week during the conference season.

Let him know what you think about these rankings — good or bad.

1. No. 15 New Mexico (16-2 overall, 3-0 MW, 8 RPI): The only undefeated team in league play after two weeks, and the only team in the AP poll. The Lobos also have the conference’s longest winning streak at three, which says a lot about how tough all the teams are. Faces a big home game tonight against Colorado State where both teams are equally as good in the backcourt and frontcourt.

2. Colorado State (15-3, 2-1, 17 RPI): An overtime loss at San Diego State is the only conference loss. This is the most veteran team in the league, and perhaps the most physical. Senior and first-year center Colton Iverson and senior forward Pierce Hornung combine to average 19.1 rebounds per game, and the Rams are the conference’s best rebounding team. CSU needs a signature road win in league play, and tonight it gets a shot at New Mexico.

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