The Bulldogs look to stay atop the WAC against the second-place Rainbow Warriors on Thursday and the Spartans on Saturday.
Jan. 21, 2003
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Game No. 17: Fresno State (13-3, 6-1 WAC) vs. Hawai`i (11-3, 4-2 WAC)
7 p.m., Selland Arena
Radio: KMJ AM 580 (Bill Woodward, Dave Severns)
Live game stats and audio also available on gobulldogs.com
Game No. 18: Fresno State (13-3, 6-1 WAC) vs. San Jose State (4-10, 1-4 WAC)
7 p.m., Selland Arena
Radio: KMJ AM 580 (Bill Woodward, Dave Severns)
Live game stats and audio also available on gobulldogs.com
What's Coming Up
After surviving, and thriving, last week during the longest conference road trip of any team in the nation this year, Fresno State returns home to face Hawai‘i and San Jose State. The Bulldogs, winners of seven of their last eight, are 13-3 (6-1 WAC) and alone in first place in the conference. The Rainbow Warriors, who last week handed Fresno State its only loss, enter Selland Arena on Thursday in second place with an 11-3 (4-2 WAC) record. On Saturday, the Bulldogs finish up the homestand against SJSU, which is 4-10, 1-4 WAC.
What Just Happened
The Bulldogs finished up a one-week, seven-city, 8,465-mile, three-time zone road trip 2-1. Fresno State opened the week with an 88-77 loss at Hawai‘i on Monday. But the team bounced back strong with a 75-73 victory at SMU on Thursday and a thrilling 61-60 win at Louisiana Tech on Saturday. Damon Jackson was the spark plug the entire trip, averaging 18.0 points and 7.3 rebounds in the three games in allowing the Bulldogs to come home in sole possession of first place.
The Rainbow Warriors will enter Thursday's game 11-3 (4-2 WAC), having been stunned by San Jose State in their most recent game. Picked to finish second in the preseason coaches' and media polls, UH is led by Carl English, a member of the Wooden Preseason All-America Team who was also selected as the WAC preseason player of the year. The junior guard from Patrick's Cove, Newfoundland, is the second-leading scorer in the WAC with his 19.4 average. He is also shooting 39 percent from beyond the arc. However, he found the going tough Saturday at San Jose State, scoring just six points. Hawai‘i has many offensive weapons other than English, something UH displayed last week when it racked up 88 points on Fresno State, the most any team has scored against the Bulldogs this year. Hawai‘i is coached by Riley Wallace, who has a 281-213 in his 15-plus years on the island.
Fresno State All-Time vs. Hawai‘i
The Bulldogs lead the all-time series 16-9, although Hawai‘i has dominated the series as of late. The Rainbow Warriors have won four in a row over Fresno State, the Bulldogs' longest current losing streak to any team in the WAC. Included in that losing streak was last week's 88-77 UH victory on the island. Fresno State last defeated Hawai‘i on Feb. 11, 2001, at Selland Arena. The Bulldogs are 9-2 all-time against the Rainbow Warriors in Fresno.
Hawai‘i's Recent Action
The Rainbow Warriors were upset by San Jose State 79-67 at The Event Center on Saturday, the beginning to Hawai‘i's three-game road trip. San Jose State, which due to injuries started four guards 6-foot 4-inches or smaller, jumped out to a fast start, leading UH 43-29 at half. SJSU received 23 points from Brandon Hawkins and 20 from Keith West and held Bulldog nemesis Carl English to just six points. Phil Martin led the Rainbow Warriors with 18.
Scouting San Jose State
The Spartans enter this week 4-10 (1-4 WAC) after knocking off Hawai‘i on Saturday, snapping an eight-game losing streak. They were picked to finish near the bottom in the conference's preseason coaches' and media polls. SJSU is led by preseason second-team All-WAC selection Brandon Hawkins, a senior guard who is averaging 12.5 points per game. Also chipping in is Fresno native Antonio Lawrence at 10.1 points and a conference-leading 2.5 steals per game. San Jose State has been racked with injuries and a player defection that has forced 13 different starting lineups in 14 games. The Spartans also survive on quickness rather than height – their probable starting lineup coming into this week does not feature one play taller than 6-feet 5-inches. SJSU is coached by Phil Johnson, who is in his first year at the helm.
Fresno State All-Time vs. San Jose State
The Bulldogs and Spartans have played 138 times, making this rivalry the second-longest in Fresno State history, behind only the 143 times it has played Pacific. The Bulldogs hold a 70-68 lead in the series, including victories in the last seven. Fresno State has not lost to SJSU since the 1998-99 season, when the Spartans won 91-64 at The Event Center. The Bulldogs have defeated San Jose State seven times in a row at Selland Arena.
San Jose State's Recent Action
The Spartans knocked off Hawai‘i 79-67 on Saturday to snap their eight-game losing streak and pick up their first WAC win of the year. SJSU had four players in double figures, led by Brandon Hawkins' 23. Keith West added 20 as the Spartans committed only 12 turnovers.
Keep on Rollin'
Fresno State's 2-1 road trip improved its record to 13-3 on the season, just the eighth time in program history the Bulldogs have reached that mark. Of the seven previous 13-3 starts, Fresno State reached the NCAA's five times. Here is a look at Fresno State's past high win totals before suffering the fourth loss of the season:
Year Coach Start Final Rec. Note
2000-01 Jerry Tarkanian 20-3 26-7 Lost in 2nd rnd of NCAA's
1981-82 Boyd Grant 27-3 27-3 Lost in rnd of 16 of NCAA's
1980-81 Boyd Grant 25-3 25-4 Lost in 1st rnd of NCAA's
1977-78 Boyd Grant 16-3 21-6 Upset in 1st rnd of PCAA Tourney
1958-59 Bill Vandenburgh 14-3 17-5 No postseason play
1965-66 Ed Gregory 13-3 21-8 Lost in 1st rnd of NCAA's (Coll. Div.)
1963-64 Harry Miller 13-3 21-5 Lost in 2nd rnd of NCAA's (Regionals)
2002-03 Ray Lopes 13-3 - -
Fresno State's 13-3 start has them receiving votes in both the Associated Press and ESPN/USA Today coaches' polls. Entering the Bulldogs' three-game, seven-day trip, they had five votes in the AP poll and one in the coaches' poll. In winning two of the three games – with the only loss coming to a Hawai‘i team that at the time was also receiving votes – Fresno State kept its five votes in the AP rankings and now has two in the coaches' poll. The only other WAC team to receive votes is Tulsa, which the Bulldogs defeated on New Year's Day.
Few players in Fresno State history had a more thrilling 11-game stretch than Damon Jackson. The senior guard has nailed three game-winning shots already this year, all coming at Selland Arena. Here is a breakdown of Jackson's heroics thus far in 2002-03:
Nov. 30 vs. Saint Mary's: With the score tied 65-65 and time running out, Jackson attempted to dish the ball down low to Jonathan Woods, but the ball was deflected away. Jackson scooped it up and drained an off-balance 18-footer to lift the Bulldogs to a 67-65 victory, giving Fresno State its seventh consecutive McCaffrey Classic title.
Dec. 20 vs. Centenary: Fresno State trailed 69-67 and had the ball out of bounds with 11 seconds left. Jackson came off a double-screen, received the inbounds pass and drained a three-pointer with 8.3 ticks left on the clock, giving the Bulldogs a 70-69 victory over the Gentlemen.
Jan. 4 vs. Rice: After Omar-Seli Mance hit a three-pointer to put Rice ahead 70-69 with 11 seconds left, Terry Pettis dished it off to Jackson at the top of the key, and the senior guard took two dribbles, and with a defender in his face, put home a 14-footer with five seconds left to hand the Bulldogs a heart-pounding 71-70 victory.
Bringing the D
While solid offensive production has been helpful to Fresno State's success, the central theme of the 13-3 start has been a stifling defense. The Bulldogs are allowing just 64.6 points per game, the best mark in the WAC. Only Centenary and Hawai‘i have shot better than 50 percent against Fresno State this year. And six of the Bulldogs' last eight opponents have been held below their season scoring average. Here is a look at what Fresno State's miserly defense has done to some of its opponents:
Opponent (Rec) Avg PPG* vs. Fresno State
Idaho State (8-7) 70.1 53
Santa Clara (10-6) 68.7 55
Pacific (8-6) 67.6 60
Washington State (5-10) 78.6 69
Sacramento State (7-9) 63.8 53
Tulsa (10-4) 72.1 65
Rice (11-4) 75.1 70
Boise State (9-7) 64.6 54
UTEP (3-12) 62.2 58
Louisiana Tech (5-7) 65.3 60
* Indicates scoring average coming into the game
Curtain Falls on Selland Arena
With the Save Mart Center opening on campus next year, the Bulldogs are in their 36th and final year playing in Selland Arena, the team's home since 1967-68. Fresno State has gone 402-135 (.749) at the venerable facility in downtown Fresno, including a 112-20 (.848) record over the past seven-plus years, including a perfect 10-0 mark this season. Selland Arena has hosted numerous NIT games and nationally ranked teams, but perhaps the greatest moment came in 2000, when the Bulldogs hosted and won the WAC Tournament, defeating 14th-ranked Tulsa in the championship game, causing fans to storm the court in delirium at the final buzzer. The Bulldogs added another exciting chapter to the Arena's storybook Saturday when Damon Jackson added his third game-winning shot of the season to lift Fresno State past Rice 71-70, giving the program their 400th victory at Selland. The Bulldogs will bring the Selland Arena Era to a close with its home finale March 1 against Nevada.
Basketball, Bulldog Style
This year's Fresno State team may need to come with a warning from the Surgeon General: Fans with heart conditions may find viewing hazardous to their health. The Bulldogs' habit of playing incredibly tense, nail-biting games continued in the final two contests of the last road trip. Both games went down to the final buzzer, with Fresno State defeating SMU 75-73 and Louisiana Tech 61-60. The Bulldogs have played seven games that have been decided by three points or less and have won six of them, the lone blemish being a 69-66 defeat at Washington State on Dec. 23. In three of those victories, Damon Jackson played the hero by hitting a last-second shot. Perhaps the most thrilling win of the season came Saturday at Louisiana Tech, when a Renaldo Major steal with five seconds left led to Jonathan Woods' three-point play with 1.1 left, lifting the Bulldogs to a 61-60 win.
The Play, Revisited
It was a play that had fans and coaches alike asking each other, "Have you ever seen anything like that before?" Renaldo Major's last-second steal and ensuing pass to Jonathan Woods, who converted a three-point play with 1.1 seconds left, quickly became the No. 1 highlight of a season full of exciting finishes. With Louisiana Tech ahead 60-58, Fresno State began its offensive set, which was a play designed for Damon Jackson, who has hit three game-winning baskets this year. However, Jackson's three with nine seconds left was short, and the ball caromed toward the sideline, where Terry Pettis sprinted and grabbed it, and while flying out of bounds saved it toward the top of Fresno State's key. Unfortunately, with five seconds left on the clock, it went into the hands of Louisiana Tech forward Wayne Powell. But luck sided with the Bulldogs, as Powell decided to attempt a lob pass downcourt to a wide open teammate. Powell's pass never reached its destination, however, as Renaldo Major jumped high in the air to intercept it, then drove around Powell, stopped at the free throw line, dished the ball underneath to Woods who scored a layup and was fouled with just 1.1 showing on the clock, sending the Fresno State bench into pandemonium. So ecstatic was Woods that he did his best Jim Valvano impersonation, hugging the referee who called the foul. Woods converted the free throw, putting Fresno State up 61-60 and giving the Bulldogs the win.
Major Pain For Opponents
No player on the Bulldog roster has developed into an offensive threat quite like Renaldo Major. The junior swingman is averaging 11.8 points in the last four contests, including a career-high 17 on Thursday against SMU. Through the first six games, the South Plains (Levelland, Texas) College native was only scoring at a 5.0 per tilt clip. But he has notched a double figure scoring total in six of the last nine. A teammate of current Bulldog Jonathan Woods at SPC, he picked up his first career double-double Dec. 29 against Sacramento State with 10 points and 11 boards. Major has come off the bench in each game and has been a big reason why Fresno State's reserves are averaging 26.4 points per game.
Let's Talk Schedule
On Jan. 11, the Bulldogs wrapped up a stretch of games that saw them play almost exclusively at Selland Arena. Beginning Dec. 16 and ending against UTEP, Fresno State played just one road game, that coming Dec. 23 at Washington State. However, the flip side to the November and December home-loaded schedule is this: Of Fresno State's final 15 contests, 10 come away from home, including four of the last five.
Somebody Stop Him
Although Carl English only scored six points against San Jose State on Saturday, there is little doubt he is the player to stop when Fresno State meets up with Hawai‘i on Thursday. Since the 2001 WAC Tournament – a span of four games – English has blistered the Bulldogs by averaging 23.8 points and 6.3 rebounds. He displayed why he was picked the WAC preseason player of the year in last week's meeting with Fresno State by scoring 30 points on 8-of-13 shooting. The Patrick's Cove, Newfoundland, native had 23 in the second half and went 7-of-7 from the floor. He had his coming-out party against the Bulldogs in the 2001 conference tournament, when he played 28 minutes, scoring 10 points, dishing out eight assists and grabbing six boards after logging very little time during the regular season. He has helped guide UH to a 4-1 record against Fresno State since he became a Rainbow Warrior in the 2000-01 season. English is second in the WAC in scoring at 19.4 per game.
So, What Are You Doing With Your Frequent Flyer Miles?
The long and winding road that was Fresno State's recent trip came to an end on a positive note Saturday at Louisiana Tech. The Bulldogs' began a brutal seven-day stretch on Jan. 11 when they hosted and defeated UTEP. The following morning, the team left for Honolulu for Monday's game with Hawai‘i. Following the loss to UH, Fresno State immediately boarded a plane for Dallas, where it took on SMU on Thursday. The Bulldogs left Friday morning for Ruston, La., where they defeated Louisiana Tech on Saturday. All told, the trip spanned 8,465 miles, seven cities, six airports, four hotels and three time zones. In the end, Fresno State wound up going 2-1 on the longest conference road trip for any team in the nation this year.
In Lopes They Trust
Few first-year coaches have had a more successful beginning to this season than Fresno State's Ray Lopes. The rookie coach of the Bulldogs has guided the team to a 13-3 start, including 6-1 in the WAC, despite being picked to finish fifth in the conference's preseason coaches' poll. Under Lopes, Fresno State has developed a tough defensive mentality and a penchant for playing in and winning close games. After allowing 70.3 points per game last year, the Bulldogs currently give up just 64.6 per contest, the best average in the league. Fresno State has also played in seven games decided by three points or less, winning six of them. Last season, the Bulldogs went 3-5 in such games.
No Turnovers is a Treat
After a four-game stretch that saw Fresno State take care of the ball as well as it has all season, the Bulldogs reverted to their giving ways last week against SMU. Fresno State committed 20 turnovers against the Mustangs, the second-highest total of the year. The team bounced back two days later against Louisiana Tech, cutting the total to just 15 mistakes. Nonetheless, the Bulldogs' turnover margin dropped to +0.75, the fourth-best number in the conference. Fresno State is averaging 15.7 turnovers per game, including 17.5 in six road games.
Back into the Woods
Few newcomers in the WAC have had a bigger impact on their team than Jonathan Woods has had on Fresno State. The junior forward has established himself as a strong contender for the WAC All-Newcomer Team by averaging 11.5 points and 5.6 boards per game. After suffering through a three-game offensive slumber that saw him average just 4.0 points, Woods has posted back-to-back double-digit scoring performances, including Saturday's 14-point night at Louisiana Tech. It was Woods' three-point play with 1.1 seconds left that propelled the Bulldogs to a 61-60 win over La Tech. The South Plains (Levelland, Texas) College transfer is shooting .471 on the year after spending most of the season above the .500 mark.
No Island Hangover
One thing many coaches fear more than the long trip to play Hawai‘i is the following game, when legs and minds are often travel-weary. But since joining the WAC in 1992, the game following the voyage to the island hasn't been a big problem. Following Thursday's victory over SMU, the Bulldogs are 9-2 in the first game following the return from Honolulu (not counting postseason play). The win over the Mustangs came following a red-eye flight immediately after Fresno State's game at Hawai‘i.
Jackson's Heating Up
Prior to Fresno State's difficult seven-day, four-game, four-city stretch, Damon Jackson began to get warm. But during the road trip, when the Bulldogs' really needed his help, Jackson was simply at his best. Against UTEP on Jan. 11, the senior guard poured in a season-high 21 points to lead Fresno State to an 84-58 win. In the road trip opener at Hawai‘i, he again scored 21 points in an 88-77 loss. He then added 17 points against SMU and 16 against Louisiana Tech, both team highs and both Bulldog victories. During the four games, Jackson averaged 18.8 points and 6.0 rebounds. He also drained 17 three-pointers, an average of 4.3 per game.
We May Go, But We Never Free Throw
Fresno State entered last week's game against SMU the best free throw shooting team in the WAC. But that all went out the window in the final 3:30, when the Bulldogs made only 2-of-12 from the line in helping the Mustangs get back into the ballgame. Fresno State wound up going 6-of-19 and continued a three-game slump from the charity stripe that has seen the team make 29-of-57 (.509). Most frustrating about this stretch was that it followed a 63-of-83 streak that brought the Bulldogs' percentage up to .747. The team redeemed itself a little in Saturday's win over Louisiana Tech, going 9-of-10, including a huge free throw with 1.1 seconds left that capped off a three-point play.
Whatever it Takes
With the season's midway point in the rear view mirror, it has become apparent that while there may be no easy way to describe this year's Bulldog team, one thing is for sure – they keep finding ways to win. A perfect example of this came Saturday against Louisiana Tech, when Fresno State – which came in averaging 78.7 points in the last three games – couldn't find its shooting touch. But the Bulldogs dug in defensively, allowing La Tech just 60 points on 35 percent shooting. Although Fresno State has scored a season-low 61 points three times this year, it has still managed to win two of those contests. But when the Bulldogs score, they are just as effective. The team is 9-1 in 2002-03 when eclipsing the 70-point barrier, the lone loss being last week's 88-77 defeat at the hands of Hawai‘i.
Legans Transfers From California; Will Redshirt This Season
Former California point guard Shantay Legans transferred to Fresno State during the summer and will redshirt this season. The senior helped lead the Golden Bears to consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances, including last year when Cal went 23-9 and advanced to the second round of the NCAA's. In his Bear career, the Goleta, Calif., native averaged 9.0 points, 4.1 assists and 2.4 rebounds per game. He entered this year considered one of the Pac-10's top floor generals.
This 'n That Saturday's game at Louisiana Tech was just the fifth time this year the Bulldogs have trailed at the half and just the second time they have rebounded to win when facing a halftime deficit.
Fresno State is 13-3 for just the eighth time in the 81-year history of the program.
The Bulldogs have started 10-0 at home for only the fourth time since moving to Selland Arena in the 1967-68 season.
Damon Jackson is averaging 18.8 points and 6.0 rebounds over the last four games, in which Fresno State has gone 3-1.
The Bulldogs are 6-1 in games decided by three points or less after going 3-5 in such games in 2001-02.
Ray Lopes is off to one of the best starts for a first-year coach this year and one of the best in program history. His 13-3 beginning is eclipsed only by Boyd Grant, who kick-started his tenure with a 16-3 start in 1977-78.
Fresno State has started only four different starting lineups in 16 games.
The Bulldogs' four-game losing streak to Hawai‘i is their longest against any WAC team.
The 8,465-mile road trip that took Fresno State to Honolulu, Dallas, and Ruston, La., for WAC games against Hawai‘i, SMU and Louisiana Tech is the longst conference road trip for any team in the nation this year.
Six of the Bulldogs' last eight victories have been decided by eight points or less.
Fresno State has won 13 of 16 games but have only two players averaging double figures per game.
The Bulldogs entered last week first in the WAC in free throw percentage but finished it sixth at .704. Fresno State's opponents are shooting from the charity stripe at a .711 clip.
Washington State is the only loss the Bulldogs have suffered to a team that is either not ranked or received votes in the latest polls.
Fresno State to Host 2004 WAC Tournament
The Western Athletic Conference announced in October that Fresno State's new Save Mart Center will serve as the host facility for the 2004 conference tournament. The Bulldogs most recently hosted the WAC Tournament in 2000, which they won by defeating Tulsa in the championship game. The Golden Hurricane have played host the past two years and will welcome the conference again in March.
Sending Selland Out in Style
Fresno State is throwing one heck of a going away party for Selland Arena this year. The Bulldogs have gone 10-0 at home thus far, just the fourth time ever the team has won their first 10 home contests since they began playing in the downtown facility in the 1967-68 season. Fresno State has posted two perfect home records in the 35 years it has hosted games at Selland Arena, both when Boyd Grant patrolled the sidelines and the facility was nicknamed "Grant's Tomb." Here is a look at the other 10-0 home starts in Selland Arena history:
Year Start Record
1981-82 15-0 15-0
1977-78 13-0 13-0
1996-97 13-0 13-1
2002-03 10-0 10-0
Fast WAC Starts
In winning two of three on its week-long, three-game road trip, Fresno State is off to one of its best WAC starts ever. Since joining in 1992, the Bulldogs have started league play 6-1 just three times. They advanced to the NCAA Tournament the two previous occasions they started 6-1 in league. Here is a look at the Bulldogs' previous strong WAC starts:
Year Start Final Record Notes
2002-03 6-1 -- --
2000-01 6-1 26-7 (13-3) Reached second round of NCAA's
1999-00 6-1 24-10 (11-3) Lost in first round of NCAA's
1997-98 5-1 21-13 (13-5) Played in NIT
1995-96 5-1 20-12 (13-5) Played in NIT
Eight is Enough
With Mustafa Al-Sayyad sidelined indefinitely, Fresno State has used an eight-man rotation in five of the last six games. The lone exception came in the Bulldogs' 84-58 win over UTEP, in which walk-on Eric Contente saw two minutes of action.