Fresno State is looking to get hot in Las Vegas and has a chance to make its sixth NCAA Tournament appearance.
March 6, 2012
By Stephen Trembley
FRESNO, Calif. --- The Fresno State men's basketball team will open play at the 2012 Western Athletic Conference Tournament on Thursday in quarterfinal action against New Mexico State. Tip off is slated for 2:30 p.m. PT and the contest will only be featured on KMJ 580 AM.
PREVIEW: 2012 WAC TOURNAMENT
Fresno State (Game Notes)
New Mexico State (Game Notes)
2012 WAC Tournament Notes
2012 WAC Tournament Central
2012 WAC Tournament Live Statistics
No. 7 Fresno State (13-19, 3-11 WAC) vs. No. 2 NMSU (23-9, 10-4 WAC)
Date: Thursday, March 8, 2012 - Tip: 2:30 p.m. PT TV: None
Winner of Game 1 vs. Winner of Game 2
Date: Friday, March 9, 2012 - Tip: 6 p.m. PT TV: WSN/KAIL 7,2
Winner of Game 5 vs. Winner of Game 6
Date: Saturday, March 10, 2012 - Tip: 9 p.m. PT TV: ESPN2
Site: The Orleans Arena; Las Vegas, Nev.
Radio: KMJ 580 AM (Paul Loeffler/Randy Rosenbloom)
Online: www.wac.tv (Subscription required) or www.espn3.com (Championship Game Only)
Quick Bulldog Bones - Team Notes
Fresno State, the No. 7 seed at the WAC Tournament, will open vs. No. 2 seed New Mexico State
Fresno State led WAC in turnover margin (+3.7) and fewest turnovers per game (10.7)
Fresno State committed fewer turnovers than opponents in 27 of 32 games
Fresno State has had 18 games decided by 8 or fewer points, including 12 by five or less
Fresno State forced 96 more steals than its opponents (+3.0 steals margin per game)
Quick Bulldog Bones - Individual Notes
Kevin Olekaibe (O-LAY-key-bay) led WAC in scoring (575 pts); 2nd in points/gm (18.0 ppg)
Olekaibe has scored 906 points in 61 career games; ranks 39th on FS all-time scoring list
Olekaibe scored school-record 43 points in win over Seattle U (most in 40-minute game)
Jonathan Wills led WAC in free throw shooting (96-113, 85.0%), ranked in top 20 seniors
Steven Shepp led the WAC and ranked 18th nationally in assist-to-turnover ratio (2.5)
Shepp led WAC in assists (163), 3rd in assists/gm (5.1 apg); ranked in top 20 seniors
About the New Mexico State Aggies
New Mexico State University is 23-9 on the season and 10-4 against WAC opponents. NMSU is led by four Aggies averaging double figures, including the WAC's leading scorer and rebounder Wendell McKines (18.5 ppg/10.8 rpg). NMSU leads the all-time series 24-13. The Aggies eclipsed the 'Dogs two times this season in the final minute for a pair of wins.
Bulldogs in the WAC Tournament
This is the first meeting between Fresno State and New Mexico State in a WAC Tournament game. The Bulldogs are 11-16 all-time in the postseason tournament and last won a quarterfinal contest back in 2005 when Fresno State beat Louisiana Tech 84-81 in overtime. This is also the second time in the past three seasons that the 'Dogs open the WAC Tournament against the same team they faced in the regular season finale.
Olekaibe Earns Second-Team All-WAC Honors
Even as teams gameplanned to stop him, Bulldogs' guard Kevin Olekaibe was a scoring machine and opened up the offense for his teammates. He ranks sixth among NCAA DI sophomore scorers and led the WAC in total points scored (575). This season, Olekaibe has scored in 10 or more points in 24 games, reached at least 20 points 12 times and topped the 25-point mark eight times. Olekaibe is third in the nation in 3-point field goal attempts (264).
Brown, Olekaibe Named to CollegeSportsMadness.com All-WAC Teams
Fresno State sophomores Kevin Olekaibe and Jerry Brown were named to 2012 College Sports Madness All-Western Athletic Conference teams. Olekaibe was tabbed to the first team while Brown received a nod to CSM's All-WAC fourth team after he posted an average of 8.9 points, 5.5 rebounds, 1.2 steals, 1.0 assists, and 0.8 blocks per game. Olekaibe was also named to the CollegeHoops.net All-WAC team.
Fresno State Topped WAC in Steals, Turnover Margin; Bulldogs Log Major Minutes
The Bulldogs' defensive fire helped fuel their WAC-leading marks in steals (229), steals per game (7.2) and turnover margin (+3.7). Three 'Dogs ranked in the WAC's top five individually for steals (Shepp, T. Johnson and Olekaibe) while Shepp and Olekaibe led the conference in minutes played. Shepp also dished out the WAC's most assists (163) and had the best assist-to-turnover ratio (2.5 A/TO). Fresno State ranked second in the WAC in attendance.
Fresno State Received Most National Exposure of Any WAC Team
With a season-opening road contest at Stanford that was featured on ESPNU and seven WAC Sports Network broadcasts, Fresno State had the most national broadcasts of any school in the conference with eight. Nevada followed behind in second with seven.
Fresno State Delivered Exciting Comebacks All Season Long
While Fresno State has faced its fair share of challenges this season, but remained resilent and mounted fearless comeback after fearless comeback. In 11 of their 32 games this season, the 'Dogs delivered exciting rallies from nine points or greater and earned four victories when facing those daunting deficits against ASU, SMU, Cal State Northrdige and Seattle U.
'Dogs Picked 6th, 7th in Preseason WAC Polls
The Bulldogs knew they had some work to do to exceed the expectations of the WAC head coaches and media, who picked the Fresno State men's basketball team to finish sixth and seventh, respectively, in the 2011-12 preseason selections. After finishing the season in seventh, the 'Dogs are still just three wins from making the program's sixth NCAA Tournament.
Fresno State Remains WAC's Top Overall Program Over Past Nine Years
With its strong commitment to superior athletic competition and academic performance, Fresno State finished second in the last two Western Athletic Conference Commissioner's Cup races and remained the top program throughout the nine years of the award. The 'Dogs rank first among the current WAC institutions, ahead of Nevada and Hawai'i as the top three WAC schools. Fresno State is one of three repeat Cup winners (2007-08 & 2008-09), along with Rice University (2003-04 & 2004-05) and Boise State University (2009-10 & 2010-11).
Welty Accepts 'Dogs Invitation to Join Mountain West Conference
President John D. Welty announced in 2010 that Fresno State accepted an invitation to become a member of the Mountain West Conference. The Bulldogs will leave the Western Athletic Conference after the 2011-12 season to compete against Air Force, Boise State, Colorado State, Nevada, New Mexico, San Diego State, UNLV and Wyoming.
"We Are Your Team!" -- Fresno State will face New Mexico State on Thursday at 2:30 p.m. in Quarterfinal action at the 2012 WAC Tournament. Follow the Bulldogs live from Las Vegas on KMJ 580 AM and KAIL 7.2.