Statistics are based on the first half of league play only.
Jamaal Franklin, Jr., G, San Diego State: Franklin, the reigning MW Player of the Year, ranks among the league's top 10 in 10 statistical categories, including scoring (1st, 18.3 ppg), rebounding (t-2nd, 8.5 rpg), steals (t-3rd,1.633) and assists (6th, 3.38). He is the only player in the nation leading his team in scoring average, rebounding average, steals average and assists average.
Anthony Marshall, Sr., G, UNLV: The league leader in minutes played (37.62) and assists per game (7.1), Marshall also leads the Runnin' Rebels in steals (1.0 per game) and three-point shooting percentage (.433). He is second on the team in shooting percentage (.527) and ranks fifth in rebounding with an average of 4.6 per contest. Despite averaging more minutes than any player in the league, Marshall's assist/turnover ratio of 2.28 ranks third in the MW.
Derrick Marks, So., G, Boise State: Marks, identified by Michigan State coach Tom Izzo as a player the Spartans had no answer for, ranks second in the league in scoring (17.3) and shooting percentage (.482). He is also fifth in free-throw percentage (.821), is tied for fifth in steals (1.57) and ranks seventh in assists (3.14).
Pierce Hornung, Sr., F, Colorado State: Hornung, who has gained national acclaim for his rebounding, is now becoming a factor at the offensive end, as well. Prior to missing the majority of Wednesday's win at Nevada due to illness, Hornung posted consecutive double-doubles for the second-place Rams by averaging 17.5 points and 12.0 rebounds in wins over Boise State and Wyoming. He ranks second in league play in offensive rebounds (3.63) and is tied for fifth overall with an average of 8.0 rebounds per contest.
Alex Kirk, So., C, New Mexico: In helping stake the first-place Lobos to a one-game lead through the league's first half, Kirk, who missed all of last season after undergoing back surgery in 2011, ranks first in the league in rebounds (7.1) and ninth in blocks (1.63). He also is second on the team in field-goal percentage (.478), third in scoring (10.9) and minutes played (29.0) and fourth in free-throw percentage (.690).
Lobos Look to Lengthen Lead
While some took exception to my observation last month that New Mexico had the muscle to ultimately reign supreme in this year's Mountain West race, I'm not backing away from that argument.
The Lobos, who play five of their final eight on the road, begin the second half on Saturday at UNLV against a team suddenly struggling to find its feet. New Mexico, which beat the Rebels in its last appearance at the Thomas & Mack Center, has posted a league road record of .500 or better in every season save one since coach Steve Alford's arrival in 2007. That, folks, is no small feat in a league where only two teams --- New Mexico and San Diego State --- had winning road records in league play a year ago and only nine have done so in the last five seasons.
Should the Lobos get past UNLV, they would likely be viewed as the favorite in each of their remaining contests, with the exception of a date with Colorado State in Fort Collins on Feb. 23. Both teams are undefeated at home in league play.
In the event New Mexico and Colorado State split their regular-season series and finish tied for the league title, their records will be compared against the team occupying the next highest spot in the standings, continuing down until one team gains the advantage and thus the higher seed in the MW Championships. If two teams remain tied after all tie breakers have been exhausted, the last tie breaker when determining seeds for the MW Championships is RPI, as determined by the most recent NCAA RPI available on March 9.
Disclaimer: The aforementioned scenario is based on my impression of the first half of the league season, which, this being the MW, will undoubtedly have no bearing whatsoever on what occurs over the course of the next month.
Stat of Note
Of the 36 games played during the first half of the MW season, exactly half were decided by single digits.