Boise State junior guard Derrick Marks was named Mountain West men’s basketball player of the week Monday.
In wins over Nevada on Tuesday and Utah State on Saturday, Marks had 40 points and 12 rebounds. Against Utah State, he had 13 of the Broncos’ final 16 points in a 78-74 win. He scored the game-winner with 23.6 seconds left after blocking a fastbreak layup a few seconds earlier. It is the fourth Mountain West weekly honor of Marks’ career.
Also on Monday, Boise State’s Lexie Der was named Mountain West women’s player of the week. The sophomore had 32 points and 19 rebounds last week in wins over Nevada and Utah State. It was her first weekly Mountain West weekly honor.
The Broncos moved up from 64th to 53rd in the NCAA’s official RPI rankings this week.
Boise State is third amongst Mountain West teams in the RPI, trailing only San Diego State (14th) and New Mexico (45th). The Broncos face the latter on Tuesday in Albuquerque (7:15 p.m. MT, CBS Sports Network).
The Lobos (13-4, 4-1) are once again among the top contenders for the conference crown, but this time are doing it without Steve Alford at the helm. First-year coach Craig Neal had been on Alford’s staffs since 2004-05 at Iowa, and has kept things similar.
“There’s subtle differences, but those two had been together so many years, it’s not like it was a changing of the guard,” Boise State coach Leon Rice said.
Typically a lockdown defensive team, the Lobos have at times struggled on the defense, giving up 71.3 points per game. They gave up 60.6 ppg last season.
“They lost a really good defender in (first-round pick Tony) Snell, but I haven’t seen any dropoff in their defense,” Rice said.
Though Snell is now with the Chicago Bulls, the Lobos still have one of the best starting lineups in the West with senior guard Kendall Williams (the reigning Mountain West play of the year), 7-foot junior center Alex Kirk and 6-9 senior forward Cameron Bairstow.
Last season, Bairstow averaged 9.7 ppg and 5.9 rebounds per game. In 2013-14, he’s scoring 20.5 ppg and pulling down 7.2 rpg.
“Cameron Bairstow’s probably one of the most improved players in the country,” Rice said. “The way he’s playing, you can certainly make the case for him as MVP of the league.”
Here is my Associated Press top 25 men’s basketball ballot for the week:
3. Michigan State
5. Wichita State
6. San Diego State
11. Oklahoma State
14. Iowa State
18. Ohio State
20. Saint Louis
21. Kansas State