Bulldogs put shooting problems – and loss at San Diego State – behind them

New Mexico’s Alex Kirk reacts after scoring against UNLV in the first half on Feb. 9, 2013, in Las Vegas. (ASSOCIATED PRESS)

Fresno State coach Rodney Terry was running through the strengths of the New Mexico Lobos, who come to the Save Mart Center on Wednesday leading the Mountain West Conference men’s basketball standings.

There were a few of them, all posing big matchup problems for the Bulldogs. But after a woeful game shooting the basketball in a loss at San Diego State, of particular concern has to be the Lobos’ defense: They make you make shots, because they play a packed-in defense,” Terry said. “They protect the elbows and blocks, and they make you have to make shots.”

In that loss to the Aztecs, Fresno State not only didn’t do that they often weren’t close. The Bulldogs hit only 17 of 58 shots (29.3%) including 4 of 19 at the 3-point line (21.1. percent).

To make much of a dent in the Lobos, they are going to have to do better.

“If you sit there and dwell on (San Diego State) and you think about it, you’re definitely not going to make shots,” said guard Tyler Johnson, who led the Bulldogs with 14 points in the loss to the Aztecs, but hit only 5 of 15 shots to get there. “It’s hard enough knock down shots, but when you sit there and think about it and go, ‘Should I take this?’ Or think, ‘Is this a good shot?’ you really have no chance.

“Coach always talks about it and I think it’s one of the best sayings there is — if you play basketball without confidence you can’t really play, you can’t play this game. We’ve got to just brush it off and know that we are capable of making shots. The last two practices we got good shooter workouts in, understanding that New Mexico is another good defensive team and they’re not going to beat themselves.

“We have to knock down shots in order to beat another good team like this.”