Fresno State, Utah State meet in MWC semis
Fresno State (23-8, 14-5) vs. Utah State (26-6, 16-3)
Mountain West Conference Tournament Semifinals, Thomas & Mack Center, Las Vegas; Friday, 10:30 p.m. EDT
BOTTOM LINE: A spot in the MWC championship game is up for grabs as Fresno State and Utah State are set to do battle. The teams split the regular season series at one win apiece. The teams last went at it on Feb. 5, when the Aggies shot 54.5 percent from the field while holding Fresno State to just 49.2 percent on their way to a one-point victory.
STEPPING UP: The explosive Sam Merrill has put up 21.1 points and 4.3 assists to lead the way for the Aggies. Neemias Queta has paired with Merrill and is putting up 11.8 points, 8.8 rebounds and 2.5 blocks per game. On the visiting bench, this will be a Las Vegas homecoming for junior Nate Grimes, who’s averaged 11.5 points and 9.3 rebounds this year. Seniors Deshon Taylor and Braxton Huggins have helped Grimes with leadership duties, as D. Taylor has averaged 18.4 points and five assists while Huggins has put up 18.7 points and 4.3 rebounds per game.
FUELING THE OFFENSE: D. Taylor has made or assisted on 53 percent of all Fresno State field goals over the last five games. The senior guard has accounted for 40 field goals and 36 assists in those games.
ACCOUNTING FOR ASSISTS: The Bulldogs have recently used assists to create buckets more often than the Aggies. Utah State has an assist on 50 of 88 field goals (56.8 percent) over its previous three games while Fresno State has assists on 60 of 94 field goals (63.8 percent) during its past three games.
DID YOU KNOW: Fresno State as a collective unit has made 10.9 3-pointers per game this season, which is 10th-most among Division I teams. The Bulldogs have averaged 15.3 3-pointers per game over their four-game winning streak.