Taylor, Huggins combine for 45 points, Fresno St. beats NM
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Deshon Taylor scored 26 and Braxton Huggins added 19 in the second half Saturday to help Fresno State outlast New Mexico 81-73.
With a fifth win in six games, the Bulldogs (19-6, 10-3 Mountain West) retained its share of second place in the conference.
Fresno State had to overcome foul issues and the hot shooting of Vance Jackson, who finished with a career-high 30 for the Lobos (11-14, 5-8).
“We can shoot the ball,” said Bulldogs’ coach Justin Hutson. “Their zone gave us some trouble in the first half, but our foul trouble gave us more problems. I thought we found something that would work. Deshon got into the lane and kicked it out. We really moved the ball and we took good shots and fortunately we knocked them down.”
Taylor added five assists on the night and Noah Blackwell had four helpers to go along with 11 points.
New Mexico took its biggest lead early in the second half, going up 43-35 following a 3-pointer from Anthony Mathis, who finished with 13.
After a quick timeout, Fresno State responded with a 12-0 run to go up 47-43.
“They called a timeout a minute and a half in and they drilled us from there,” Lobos’ coach Paul Weir said. “They went on a run from there that we just couldn’t stop. They recalibrated themselves and we ran out of a little bit of mojo or gas, I don’t know.”
The Lobos, however, did regain the advantage at 57-55 before the Bulldogs got hot from the outside.
The game turned with eight minutes remaining when the Bulldogs hit 3-pointers on four straight possessions to fuel a 15-6 run and a 67-61 lead. They would not trail again.
Huggins did not score in the first half after picking up three fouls. But he was a key to the second-half effort, hitting three of the 3s in the pivotal stretch.
“Our staff found a spot for him, a little sweet spot in the zone and Deshon made some penetration and kicked to him and he knocked it down,” Huston said of Huggins. “He just wasn’t in rhythm in the first half because he was in and out of the game. Braxton can make shots.”
Taylor had 16 in the first half in a great personal dual with Jackson, who had 20 before the break.
After taking on the Bulldogs, who came into the game sharing second place with Utah State, New Mexico gets another chance to impact the conference standings by taking on the Aggies next.
Throw out Fresno State’s upcoming game with No. 7 Nevada and the Bulldogs are in a great position as their other four opponents have a combined 14-33 record.
DEPITTING THE PIT
Huggins, a transfer after three seasons at Lobos’ rival New Mexico State who also played one year under Weir for the Aggies, had been 0-3 in the Pit and was not a factor in any of those previous games. He came into this game averaging 26.3 points over the last four, but picked up two fouls in the first 2:28 of the game and another one later in the half, leading to a scoreless opening 20 minutes.
New Mexico is at Utah State on Feb. 20.
Fresno State is home Feb. 20 against Air Force.