10 of the 11 Mountain West teams were in action Wednesday night as the league kicked off conference play with a five-game slate.
While no team in the conference has earned a win against a top 25 team, the Mountain West is proving to be tough. Every team in the league, save Air Force (7-7) and Utah State (6-6), boasts a winning record.
San Diego State was the only team that didn’t duke it out with their conference cohort last night.
Venture westward and find out three things we learned from the first night of Mountain West competition.
1. Wyoming will dunk all over you
En route to an 84-72 win over Air Force, the high-flying Cowboys played above the rim all night.
Andrew Moemeka took the Falcons to flight school (sorry, I had to) on this rim-rattling alley-oop.
Air Force had to dodge posterizations all night.
In what was their first game since losing to USC by two in overtime, Wyoming led by as much as 25. The 11-3 Cowboys had five players score more than 10 points in their first conference win of the season.
While they were ranked 10th in the Mountain West preseason poll, Wyoming is making us pay attention.
2. Nevada’s Marcus Marshall can’t stop scoring
In his eighth game with 20-or-more points, senior guard Marcus Marshall scored 25 in an 80-55 whalloping of San Jose State. Marshall shot 4-6 beyond the arc in a game-high 38 minutes of play, powering the 12-2 Wolfpack to their seventh-straight win.
Marshall has proven himself to be Nevada’s go-to scorer in the conference’s best offense, and he has put up big numbers time and again. He showed out against Washington earlier this year, dropping 32 points, including a game-winner.
The St. Paul, MN native transferred to Nevada from Missouri State, where he was named Missouri Valley Conference Freshman of the Year. He had to sit out last season due to NCAA transfer rules.
In his first season with the Wolfpack, he is averaging a Mountain West-best 20.2 points per game on 42.5 percent shooting.
3. Parity abounds, and the Mountain West is worth watching
The first half of this season has shown that just about any team in the Mountain West could win the conference. As more games are played, the preseason rankings continue to get turned on their head.
If the first night of conference play is any indication of things to come, the next few months in the Mountain West will consist of single-digit games and unexpected results.
In fact, we got a first taste of close game action last night. Boise State bested Utah State in a narrow 83-80 win in which freshman Justinian Jessup chucked up 11 three-point shots, hitting the mark on five of them.
In another close game, New Mexico edged Fresno State in a 78-73 contest in Albuquerque.
Also of note: behind a 21-point performance from Gian Clavell, Colorado State shot 48.5 percent from the field and beat UNLV 91-77.
Mountain West madness continues with four New Year’s Eve games.