FRESNO, Calif. – The Fresno State men’s basketball team has a chance to make some headlines on Friday night.
“I just feel like it would be a really big win, that simple,” said junior Anthony Holland on Thursday, when asked what a win over Boise State Friday night would mean for the program. “I think it would send a message that we’re ready to knock off anybody and play against anybody.”
The Bulldogs (14-5, 4-2 MW), currently all alone in fourth place in the Mountain West, will host the conference-leading Broncos (16-4, 7-0 MW) at the Save Mart Center at 8 p.m. Friday night.
The Broncos have tied a school record by winning their last 13 games.
“They’re strong, they’re smart, they’re old,” said Bulldogs head coach Justin Hutson Thursday. “You know, that’s what everybody wants to get to. They have length at every position, which allows them to do a lot of different things there. They’re old, so there’s nothing they haven’t seen, so they play through different things, and they’re very smart that way, and their coaching staff does a great job on that end too.”
Barring a setback, it looks likely that Fresno State’s leading scorer and rebounder Orlando Robinson will be available for Friday’s game. Robinson landed awkwardly on his right ankle early in the Bulldogs 65-60 win over New Mexico Tuesday. It forced him to miss a majority of that game, but he was able to return to the floor for the game’s final nine minutes.
The latest injury coming eleven days after he suffered a cut over his left eye and another in his mouth in Fresno State’s win at UNLV Jan. 14.
Hutson said Thursday Robinson is ailing a little bit, but he expects him to tough it out against the Broncos.
“That’s something you don’t really worry about with Orlando much as the coach, because he is tough, and he’s always ready to go, not just for the games but for practice, the weight room, the classroom,” said Hutson. “Yeah, he has been getting beat up a little bit the last few weeks, but he’ll be ready.”
This will be the second time the teams have met this season, as Boise State won the first game 65-55 in Boise on Dec. 28. It was the conference opener for both teams, and the Bulldogs were missing a key piece for that game as Holland, their second leading scorer and rebounder was out because of health and safety protocals. He was forced to watch the game on a laptop back in Fresno.
“We kind of broke down in certain parts of the game,” said Holland.
The Bulldogs led by two late in that game, but the Broncos closed on a 17-5 run to pull out the win. Having Holland available for round two will certainly help the Bulldogs chances.
“We’re gonna be much better, with him out there on the offensive and defensive end, whether that translates to a win, sometimes comes down to making shots and executing,” said Hutson. “Each game is different, but we’ll be better with Anthony in the lineup. He’s our best defender, you know, he rebounds the ball very well, and that’s gonna really help.”
Holland has been emerging as a real offensive threat as well, having scored at least 13 points in four of his last five games, which included a career-high 22 points in the win at Albuquerque Tuesday.
“My confidence is real high right now,” said Holland, who leads the Bulldogs and is seventh in the conference in 3-point percentage, having made just under 47 percent of his 3-pointers entering Friday. “I’m real confident in myself, and just trying to build on it.”
The Bulldogs are 9-0 at home this season, and the Fresno State marketing department is doing what it can to make that homecourt advantage even stronger.
They are offering $5 tickets to the general public for the Boise game, and Fresno State students who attend the game will have a chance to win giveaways that include a $500 Visa Gift Card, $100 Bulldog Shop Gift Card, $100 Adidas Gift Cards, $100 Texas De Brazil Gift Card, Me-N-Ed’s Pizzas, Port of Subs Sandwiches, and Shirts.
And if you need another reason to get out to the Save Mart Center Friday night, there is this:
Sanger Chevrolet Buick GMC is giving one fan the opportunity to win $20,022 if they can hit a half-court shot during the game against Boise State. Anyone 18 years or older can enter for the chance to participate, but one lucky fan will be selected at random to take their shot.
Here is the link to sign-up: GoBulldogs.com/halfcourt.