Tuesday, January 08, 2008

#24 Saint Mary's rolls into the SMC

Need you back at form-5 threes would help alot

Dogs vs. #24 Saint Marys at SMC

The Fresno State Bulldogs return home Tuesday to the friendly confines of the Save Mart Center to take on the #24 ranked Saint Marys Gaels. This is the first nationally ranked team to appear in Fresno this season. The Gaels have had a very successful non-conference run going 12-2 while defeating the likes of Oregon, San Diego State, Seton Hall, and Tulane. Their two losses came against Southern Illinois and #14 Texas.

The Bulldogs enter off of a split on the two game road swing to open conference play, winning in Ruston over Louisiana Tech but coming up short in Las Cruces versus the Aggies of New Mexico State. The last meeting between the Dogs and Gaels was 2002, which the Bulldogs won 67-65.

The Gaels entering:

The Gaels will come into Tuesdays matchup after a tough loss at #14 Texas 81-62. They were the first team to catch the Longhorns at full strength as Texas welcomed freshman Gary Johnson to the lineup after he missed the first 13 games. The Gaels were led by Omar Samhan who finished with 13 points and 7 rebounds. Patty Mills had 12 and Diamond Simpson 11. Simpson was named WCC player of the month in which he averaged a double-double at 12 points and 10.1 rebounds.

Who to watch for on Saint Marys:

-Freshman guard Patty Mills (15.9 pts, 3.9 assts, 2.3 rpg, 20 stls, 82.5% fts)
-Sophmore Center Omar Samhan (12.2 pts, 7.1 rpg, 22 blks, 54.5% fgs)
-Junior Guard Diamon Simpson (12.1 pts, 9.4 rpg, 28 blks, 55.1% fgs)
-Senior Guard Todd Golden (6.1 ppg, 2.6 apg, 2.2 rpg, 92.3% fts)

Key Gael Stats:

-78 points per game +12 per over opponent
-46.5% field goals
-7.9 made three point field goals per
-38.2 rebounds per game +2.2 rebounding margin
-14.8 assists per game a/t ratio at 1
-6.8 steals per game

The Bulldogs coming in:

State comes back home after Saturdays loss to the New Mexico State Aggies. The game in Las Cruces was a great opportunity to get a leg up on the conference and come out of the first week 2-0 with both wins coming on the road. The Bulldogs led by 10 early at 15-5, but a scoring drought and defensive lapses put them down at the half 38-28.

They were then able to fight there way back into the game behind Kevin Bell and cut the lead to 59-57 with 6 minutes to go. Bryan Harveys three to take the lead was off, and the Aggies answered quickly with three consecutive three pointers by NMSU guard Jonathan Gibson in 2 minutes. The game was opened up from there and the Aggies cruised to a 77-67 victory.

Kevin Bell led the way with 19 points, Eddie Miller chipped in 11, and Hector Hernandez added 10. Miller and fellow guard Bryan Harvey combined for 6-26 from the field which prove to be the difference, a few more jumpers made buy that tandem and the Dogs steal one on the road. Off the bench, Ned Golubovic had 8 points and 7 rebounds in 26 minutes, but he fouled out with a minute remaining.

What to expect:

Expect a very skilled Saint Marys club to jump out early if the Dogs aren’t ready to play. Both teams enter off of losses so it remains to see what kind of factor that will play. The Bulldogs will need to feed off the energy of the crowd and Eddie Miller and Bryan Harvey to improve their shooting efforts from the NMSU game to compete with the Gaels.

It will be tough going versus a very good Saint Marys team Tuesday night. If a focused and energetic Dogs team shows up they have an opportunity to pick up their best non-conference win for the season.

MBs take:

The Bulldogs show up and play better than expected, but I have a hard time seeing them handle Freshman guard Patty Mills and the size and versatility of Diamon Simpson. It will take and improved shooting effort from the guards and a Pacific like effort from Kevin Bell to knock off the #24 Gaels. At the final buzzer, it Gaels 74 and the Dogs 68.

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