Kuwada: Olekaibe's shot finally comes around for Fresno State
Mar 05, 2013 (The Fresno Bee - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
Kevin Olekaibe found it ever so briefly the other night, knocking down all six of the shots he took in a loss at Colorado State, every one of them at the 3-point line.
It was, by far, the best game the Fresno State guard has had shooting the basketball this season and, well, yeah, something much more modest would have done the trick there, too. After missing much of the summer and parts of preseason practice because of an elbow injury, Olekaibe has never really got himself untracked and had some rather unsightly stat lines, including a 3 of 15 at Texas, a 3 of 12 against Long Beach State, a 2 of 11 at New Mexico and 1 of 8s at San Diego State and Nevada.
This season, he has made only 36% of his shots and 36.7% of his 3-pointers.
But in going 6 of 6, Olekaibe tied the Mountain West Conference record for 3-point field goal percentage in a game as well as the school record, a mark that has now been hit three times. The Bulldogs' Kendric Brooks had been the most recent to do it, on Dec. 1, 1995, in a 66-49 victory over Maine.
The closest Olekaibe had come to such perfection
A high-volume shooter, Olekaibe had hit better than 50% of his shots in only nine of his first 90 career games, the best a 58.8% (10 of 17) in scoring 28 points last season in a loss at Boise State.
As good as that 6 of 6 was, though, it was not the best shooting game in the MW this season.
Or even last week.
One night before Olekaibe went 6 of 6, Wyoming guard Nathan Sobey came off the bench in a loss at Air Force and made 7 of 7 shots, including 6 of 6 at the 3-point line, and 2 of 2 at the free-throw line in scoring 22 points. He didn't miss -- anything. He took nine shots, and had nine makes.
Believe it or not, perfect from the floor, perfect from the 3-point line and perfect from the free-throw line had happened only two times in the conference all season.
And those two were not close to Sobey -- San Diego State guard Labradford Franklin was 1 of 1, 1 of 1 and 2 of 2 in a victory over Arkansas-Pine Bluff, and Wyoming guard Jason McManamen had a 3 of 3, 2 of 2 and 2 of 2 line in a victory at Cal State Bakersfield.
Sobey had scored only six points over the Cowboys' nine previous games -- he went into Clune Arena averaging only 2.4 shots per game. And, he followed it up by going 0 of 4 in 17 minutes in a loss at New Mexico, so maybe it should not come as too much of a surprise that so few had not missed.
There have been some players to come close -- the three other players to go 6 of 6 in a game this season are Anthony Marshall from UNLV, Colton Iverson from Colorado State and Derek Cooke from Wyoming; Marshall was 6 of 6 and 2 of 2 on 3-pointers, but didn't take a free throw in a victory over Northern Arizona, Iverson was 6 of 6, did not take a 3-pointer and was 3 of 5 from the line in a victory at Air Force, and Cooke was 6 of 6, did not take a 3-pointer and was 0 of 1 from the line in a win at Northern Colorado.
Olekaibe, at Colorado State, did not attempt a free throw.
The Mountain West record for field-goal percentage in a game is 1.000 -- Billy White from San Diego State went 12 of 12 against Wyoming on Feb. 14, 2009, and Aerick Sanders from San Diego State went 11 of 11 in a win against Eastern Washington on Dec. 20, 2003.
This week for the 'Dogs
Saturday at UNLV, 3 p.m., at the Thomas and Mack Center: The Rebels have won four in a row with victories over San Diego State and Colorado State and at Wyoming and at Nevada. The latter two might not impress, but, remember, UNLV has had a wretched record in conference road games. Fresno State beat the Rebels at the Save Mart Center last month, UNLV hitting only 19% of its 3-pointers (4 of 21) and turning over the ball 15 times.
The longest 10 minutes of the season
Air Force has been known to light it up pretty good from time to time -- the Falcons are ranked 17th in Division I in field-goal percentage and in MW play put up 91 points on Boise State, 86 on Colorado State and 78 on Nevada. But the Bulldogs put them through a fitful stretch in a 56-41 victory at the Save Mart Center, holding Air Force without a field goal for more than 10 minutes in the second half.
The Falcons' Justin Hammonds scored with 15:33 to play, their next field goal came with 5:18 to go when Kamryn Williams scored in the lane, and in between they had just seven free throws.
Air Force missed all eight of the shots it got in that stretch, four at the 3-point line. It also turned over the ball once. And it shot right to the top of an impressive list for Fresno State -- the Falcons are the 12th team to go through a stretch of at least six minutes without a basket against the Bulldogs.
Here are the top five:
--10:15 vs. Air Force: Falcons no FGs from 15:33 to 5:18 in second half.
--9:23 vs. Wyoming: Cowboys no FGs from 14:13 to 4:50 in first half.
--8:12 vs. New Mexico: Lobos no FGs from 8:12 to end of first half.
--8:07 at UC Riverside: Highlanders no FGs from 8:07 to end of first half.
--7:51 at UC Riverside: Highlanders no FGs from 19:10 to 11:19 in first half.
Air Force hit only 27.9% of its shots (12 of 43) including 25% (5 of 20) in the second half, and turned over the ball 13 times. Coach Dave Pilipovich said the loss was the most difficult of his career, and the Falcons were as stumped as they were stymied by the Bulldogs' defense.
"It's so frustrating," guard Mike Fitzgerald said. "I don't understand it."
Could you go any faster
The flip side of that defensive stretch by the Bulldogs is the teams that can and have scored baskets very quickly, and there have been a few in the Mountain West this season.
The conference might have four teams ranked in the top 50 in scoring defense and three in field-goal percentage defense, but, still, Nevada managed to score baskets 2 seconds apart in a loss to San Diego State, albeit with the help of a foul.
Jerry Evans made a layup and was fouled with 2:14 remaining in the first half, made the free throw, and then stole the ball from the Aztecs' Jamaal Franklin and got another layup with 2:12 to go. The Wolf Pack scored five points there with just 2 seconds running off the clock.
That is pretty quick, and here are some other fast back-to-back baskets from MW games:
--4 seconds -- New Mexico vs. Fresno State: Lobos scored at 14:58 and 14:54 of first half.
--4 seconds -- Air Force vs. Colorado State: Falcons scored at 0:45 and 0:41 of second half.
--5 seconds -- Colorado State vs. New Mexico: Rams scored at 0:13 and 0:08 of second half.
--7 seconds -- Air Force vs. Colorado State: Falcons scored at 0:52 and 0:45 of second half.
--7 seconds -- Colorado State vs. New Mexico: Rams scored at 11:01 and 10:54 of first half.
--8 seconds -- Colorado State vs. San Diego State: Rams scored at 0:18 and 0:10 of second half.
--9 seconds -- Boise State vs. Wyoming: Broncos scored at 4:45 and 4:36 of first half.
--10 seconds -- Fresno State vs. Nevada: Bulldogs scored at 0:26 and 0:16 of second half.
--New Mexico shoots a lot of free throws -- the Lobos have made 521, as many as Boise State has attempted and more than Air Force has taken (472). So, obviously, the number of fouls in a game often swings in New Mexico's favor and it did against Wyoming in wrapping up the MW title. The Lobos were 21 of 27, the Cowboys 3 of 7. Wyoming coach Larry Shyatt on the discrepancy: "Steve Alford and his staff, this personnel they've put together and this crowd deserves more attention than my comment. And, I really don't think my wife would want to know if I got fined."
--Boise State guard Derrick Marks had a huge second half in a victory over Colorado State, outscoring the Rams by himself. Marks hit all 11 of his shots in the final 20 minutes, including four 3-pointers, and had 33 points to Colorado State's 29. Marks for the game shot 13 of 18, 4 of 7 at the 3-point line and 8 of 11 at the free-throw line for 38 points.
--At one point in that second half, Marks scored 24 consecutive points for the Broncos. "That out there was just crazy," Boise Sate guard Anthony Drmic said. "I'm just sitting in the corner, watching, shaking my head saying, 'Wow, that's unbelievable.' "
--That 78-65 loss for Colorado State was its first by 10 or more points this season. The Rams were one of only five Division I teams that could make that claim, along with Indiana, Kansas, Louisville and Stephen F. Austin. Colorado State had lost by nine three times.
--San Diego State is 2-5 in MW road games and three of those losses are by six points or fewer -- 72-70 at UNLV, 66-60 at Colorado State and 70-67 at Air Force.
--New Mexico guard Demetrius Walker was suspended indefinitely on Monday for an unspecified violation of team rules. He will not play in the Lobos' final two games of the regular season at Nevada and at Air Force, and Alford did not say whether Walker would be allowed back to play in the conference tournament.
The reporter can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or @rkuwada on Twitter. Get the latest news on Fresno State sports at sports.fresnobeehive.com.
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