FRESNO, Calif. - The Bulldogs got back in the win column behind a 25-point night by shooting guard Kevin Olekaibe and a solid team defensive effort in cruising to an 85-55 victory over the Academy of Art University.
Olekaibe, who entered Wednesday night's contest as the second-leading sophomore scorer in the country at 21.3 ppg, reached double-digits through the net for the ninth straight game on seven of 16 from the field. On the defensive end of the floor, Olekaibe tied a career-high with four steals and pulled down a season-best six rebounds.
"I was really impressed with Kevin's defense tonight," head coach Rodney Terry said. "He knows he needs to score and he will for us, but the way he played and our team played defensively was the difference. It's been something we have been working on all week in practice."
Tyler Johnson added 16 points and eight rebounds for Fresno State (3-4), which snapped a three-game losing streak.
Ameer Shamsud-din scored 16 points, and William Overton added 13 points and nine rebounds for the Division II Urban Knights (0-7).
Olekaibe, who has scored at least 18 points in every game for the Bulldogs, and Johnson were two of four Fresno State players in double-digits as Kevin Foster (12) and Jonathan Wills (11) also reached the mark.
"We played hard on defense," Olekaibe said. "It was one of our focuses as a team. We have to always take it one game at a time."
Fresno State finished with a 42-21 rebounding advantage, including a 13-3 edge on the offensive glass, for its first 20-plus rebounding margin in seven years, when the `Dogs posted a 23-plus margin versus Maryland-Eastern Shore on Nov. 19, 2004.
The Bulldogs led 45-25 on halftime after Larry McGaughey's 3-pointer at the buzzer. Fresno State closed the first half with a 13-2 run.
"We felt that we got better in some areas," Terry said. "We try to work on player smarter. Ninety-percent of basketball is confidence. Larry's shot definitely gave us momentum going into the locker room."
Fresno State hosts Utah (1-5) on Saturday at 1 p.m.
"Our Town. Your Team!" - Fresno State brings some December Madness to the San Joaquin Valley with a rare Saturday afternoon home game with the Pacific-12's Utah Utes at 1 p.m. Season tickets are available through the Bulldog Foundation by calling 559-278-7160. To secure single-game tickets, you can visit Ticketmaster online, through ticketmaster.com, call 1-800-745-3000 or visit the Save Mart Center Box Office between 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. (Monday-Friday).
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