A couple of Mountain West Conference teams have different personnel outlooks as the second half of league play gets under way.
While San Diego State starting guard Kyle Spain has been suspended indefinitely by coach Steve Fisher, Colorado State center Stuart Creason is back after suffering a foot injury in early January.
Fisher would not elaborate on Spain's status.
Creason's return is expected to help a Ram team that is winless in the league.
"Losing Stuart really took a toll on us," said CSU coach Tim Miles. "Now, getting him back, hopefully in the next three or four games we'll get into a rhythm and be a bona fide challenge for teams. It's been disappointing that we haven't been able to do that at certain times.""He's a real defensive presence there," BYU coach Dave Rose said of the CSU 7-footer. "Stuart Creason makes their team a lot better."
Miles is one of the MWC's coaches who thinks BYU's Lee Cummard could be the league's most valuable player."He might be the MVP of our league just by the number of things he brings to the table for BYU," Miles said. "He can score inside, he can score outside. He passes well, he defends, blocks shots, rebounds. He's an excellent offensive rebounder. He's a do-it-all kind of guy. When you really need something good to happen he's probably going to be in the middle of it for BYU."
In each of the last six seasons, the MWC regular-season champion has ended up with no fewer than five road wins in conference play. BYU (3-1), UNLV (3-2), San Diego State (2-2) and Utah (2-2) own .500 or better marks in road MWC games this season.
Only twice in MWC history has a team captured a piece of the regular-season title with a losing record in road games: Utah in 1999-2000 (3-4); BYU and Utah in 2000-01 (3-4 each); UNLV won a share of the 1999-2000 crown with Utah with a 4-3 mark in MWC road games.
First-year New Mexico coach Steve Alford knows how difficult it is to win on the road in the MWC."It's my first time really in this part of the country and I've been impressed with the arenas and the following," Alford said.
Kruger reaches milestone:
With a win last Saturday against Colorado State, UNLV coach Lon Kruger won his 400th game as a collegiate head coach. Among active NCAA Division I coaches, Kruger is the 32nd to record 400 wins. He has a 400-272 mark in 22 years at Texas-Pan American, Kansas State, Florida, Illinois and UNLV.
Players of the week New Mexico guard J.R. Giddens and Utah guard Johnnie Bryant earned player of the week honors.
Giddens led the Lobos to a pair of wins over Colorado State and Wyoming. He scored 19 points, on 9-of-11 shooting from the field, and collected seven rebounds against the Rams. Giddens followed that up with a 36-point performance against the Cowboys.
"J.R. Giddens is playing with tremendous confidence and composure," said SDSU's Fisher. "He is immensely talented and he's allowing the game to come to him a little bit. He's not trying to take it over quite so much, and that allows him to take it over."
Bryant helped the Utes upset UNLV and get a key road victory at Air Force. Against the Rebels, Bryant poured in a season-high 26 points 16 in the second half. He tallied 17 points against the Falcons.