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October 22, 2014

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Mountain West hoops power rankings: Feb. 8

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Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun

BYU guard Jimmer Fredette is mobbed by students after their game against UNLV Saturday, February 5, 2011 at BYU in Provo. BYU won 78-64.

Once again, San Diego State and BYU have separated themselves from the pack a bit.

And, again, the league's most intriguing race is between the Nos. 3 and 5 slots in the league standings. Colorado State is back up to third, UNLV has dropped to fourth and New Mexico's off weekend kept them right there at fifth.

But did they move around at all in this week's Power Rankings?

Well, that's why you look here every week, right?

1) San Diego State (23-1 overall, 8-1 MWC)

The Aztecs slipped by TCU on Saturday, but the more interesting angle is the team's general health moving forward. Sophomore guard Chase Tapley and junior forward Tim Shelton left the game two minutes apart, with Tapley hurting his left ankle, while Shelton's issue was a right foot injury. X-rays on both revealed no broken bones, and they're likely out for Tuesday's game against Utah. As for Saturday at UNLV, their statuses are cloudier. Without Tapley, more pressure is put on reserve guard James Rahon to produce, and it also thins the Aztecs out at the point. Last Week: 1

2) BYU (22-2, 8-1)

Yes, Fredette found ways other than hitting ridiculously-long jumpers to take over a game on Saturday against UNLV, winning 78-64. But if his supporting cast plays like it did in this weekend's outing, BYU becomes a legitimate threat to make a deep tourney run. The 22 points off of the bench from Charles Abouo and Stephen Rogers were just as huge as Jimmer's 29. Last Week: 2

3) UNLV (17-6, 5-4)

Nope, not going to drop the Rebels just yet behind either Colorado State or New Mexico. The Lobos were off this weekend, and the Rams struggled to get by Wyoming. In my mind, that's on par with playing a tough game at BYU and losing (And keep in mind, not many visitors win at the Marriott Center). Lost in the brutal offensive performance was that the Rebels actually defended Fredette very well, and it was his supporting cast that did a lot of work. However, if the Rebels continue to shoot like they did on Saturday, they won't get on that roll that they've been hoping to find here in league play. So are they still No. 3? Yes. But the ground is a little softer. Last Week: 3

4) Colorado State (16-7, 6-3)

Don't read too much into this bump ahead of New Mexico, as it mostly stems from CSU winning over the weekend while the Lobos were off. But, still, Colorado State is beating the teams it's supposed to beat. A 10-6 MWC season very likely will happen. If BYU and SDSU weren't Top 10 teams right now, Tim Miles would be the frontrunner for the league's Coach of the Year honers. Heck, he still might get some votes. Last Week: 5

5) New Mexico (16-7, 4-4)

Is the Lobos' recent surge for real? They've won three in a row, the young guys are now up to speed and the team is rested. The upcoming 3-game stretch should be pretty telling as to how legit it is. New Mexico hosts Wyoming, who upset the Lobos in Laramie to open league play, on Wednesday night. Then comes back-to-back road trips to face Colorado State on Saturday and San Diego State next Wednesday. A 2-1 finish in that stretch, and I'll buy it some more. Last Week: 4

6) Air Force (13-9, 4-5)

Even though Utah is down a bit, Air Force's regular season sweep of the Utes is quite impressive. Wednesday night ought to be fun when BYU heads to Colorado Springs. There might even be a sell-out crowd at Clune Arena. How much of it is because of The Jimmer Show coming to town? Last Week: 6

7) TCU (10-14, 1-8)

TCU didn't win a game in the last week, and hasn't done so since Jan. 12, actually. But you've got to give the Frogs some credit, because after getting slapped around by New Mexico on the same day that leading scorer Ronnie Moss was suspended indefinitely, they've played well. The one-point loss in OT to Air Force last Saturday was gut-wrenching, following Greg Hill's open missed layup as time expired. Then, they played SDSU to within seven points on the road on Saturday night. Jim Christian hasn't lost this group, it appears. Last Week: 9

8) Utah (10-13, 3-6)

Only one thing is keeping Utah's plunge from going deeper than this … (read below, obviously) Last Week: 7

9) Wyoming (8-15, 1-5)

Wyoming gets the cellar this week, as it pulled the trigger on Monday afternoon and fired head coach Heath Schroyer late in his fourth season at the helm. It's widely-known that his seat was hot, but the timing of the canning is a bit strange. Last Week: 8

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