Around the Mountain: Lobos sweep weekly player awards, climb to No. 19 in AP Top 25

Jan. 29—It's not meant to be overkill here. Honestly.

But this weekly "Around the Mountain" look at the Mountain West conference would be missing out if it didn't again highlight what we've been writing about daily for a couple of weeks in the pages of the Albuquerque Journal.

The UNM Lobos aren't just playing well, they are in a special zone having beaten five consecutive league opponents by double figures.

Last week specifically, the Lobos beat two league teams by at least 20 points apiece for the first time since the 2007-08 season, climbed to No. 19 in the Associated Press Top 25 and on Monday swept the weekly conference player awards with guard Jaelen House earning Player of the Week and forward JT Toppin winning his third straight, and seventh overall, Freshman of the Week.

House, who won his second POW award in the league and first this season, averaged 19.5 points, 5.0 assists and 4.0 steals in wins at San Jose State and vs. Nevada.

Toppin averaged 9.5 points, 7.5 rebounds and 3.5 blocks in the Lobos' two wins. His seven FOW awards places him two behind the league record of nine in a season set two years ago by Boise State's Tyson Degenhart.

COUSY WATCH LIST: Colorado State senior Isaiah Stevens on Monday was named to the Bob Cousy Top 10 list for the nation's top point guard.

The 6-foot Stevens is averaging 16.7 points, 7.5 assists, 3.1 rebounds and 1.4 steals this season for the Rams (15-5, 3-4 Mountain West).

The award, along with other position-specific awards for shooting guard (Jerry West), small forward (Julius Erving), power forward (Karl Malone) and center (Kareem Abdul-Jabbar), will be reduced to five finalists in March. Winners usually are named around the time of the Final Four. The other four awards will have their Top 10 lists revealed each day this week.

Stevens and San Diego State forward Jaedon LeDee are both on the Wooden Award Midseason Top 25 list.

PERFORMANCE(S) OF THE WEEK: It was a week ago now, but for those who missed it, Air Force beat UNLV 90-58 in Las Vegas last Tuesday night.

Yes. Really. Air Force won at UNLV by 32 points and Falcons sophomore forward Rytis Petraitis had a triple-double with 18 points, 13 rebounds, 11 assists and threw in three blocked shots and two steals for good measure.

How did the Rebels respond? Four days later at San Jose State, they closed out the game hitting 14 shots in a row to beat the Spartans 77-65.

TEAM OF THE WEEK: No team is playing better than the UNM Lobos, hence the player of the week sweep and big gains in polls, metrics and on the national radar in general. If this were a real award that meant anything, they'd get the nod here.

Instead, I'll give Utah State the nod as the team of the week after picking up a road win at Boise State in overtime. The Aggies continue to roll under first-year coach Danny Sprinkle and have now found a way to come out of two games in the past four with wins despite trailing in the final seconds of regulation or overtime.

POLL POSITION: The Lobos weren't the only Mountain West team creeping up the Top 25 rankings on Monday.

Two Mountain West teams were ranked in Monday's Associated Press Top 25 with three others showing up in the "others receiving votes" section of the poll.

—No. 17 Utah State (18-2, 6-1): The Aggies moved up from No. 18 last week, received a high vote of No. 6 from Dave Borges of the New Haven (Connecticut) Register and did not appear on one voter's ballot (Stefan Krajisnik of the Clarion-Ledger in Jackson, Mississippi).

—No. 19 New Mexico (18-3, 6-2): The Lobos moved up from No. 25 in last week's poll, received a high vote of No. 8 by two voters (Dylan Sinn of the Journal-Gazette in Fort Wayne, Indiana, and Scott Richey of the News-Gazette in Champaign, Illinois) and did not appear on one voter's ballot (JB Ricks of the Spectrum News in Raleigh, North Carolina).

For the Lobos, No. 19 is the highest the program has been ranked since the final AP Top 25 poll of the 2013-14 season when UNM was ranked No. 17 in the week between their Mountain West Tournament championship and their first-round exit to Stanford in the NCAA Tournament, the last time UNM made the NCAA Tournament. (The AP Top 25's final poll is completed the week ahead of the NCAA Tournament).

—San Diego State (16-4, 5-2): Unranked, received 95 points, sitting two spots out of the Top 25 (No. 25 TCU has 215 points). SDSU received 64 points last week. The Aztecs have a high vote of 16 and did not appear on 37 ballots.

—Colorado State (15-5, 3-4): Unranked, received 10 points, six spots out of the Top 25 with a high vote of 16, the only ballot the Rams appeared on this week, accounting for all 10 points.

—Boise State (14-6, 5-2): Unranked, received five points, nine spots out of the Top 25 with a high vote of 21, the only ballot the Broncos appeared on this week, accounting for all five points.

SELLOUT TRACKER: No sellout in the Pit for the Nevada game, but still an impressive announced crowd of 15,021 for a late-starting Sunday night game. And you certainly couldn't tell there were about 400 seats not filled based on the volume in the arena.

There were, however, two sellouts elsewhere in the Mountain West last week, bringing the season total to nine:

4 — San Diego

2 — Boise State

1 — Colorado State

1 — New Mexico

1 — Utah State

HIGH FIVE: Here are five huge games this week around the Mountain West, listed in chronological order:

San Diego State at Colorado State, Tuesday, 7 p.m. (CBS Sports Network)Wyoming at Air Force, Tuesday, 7 p.m. (TheMW)Boise State at No. 19 New Mexico, Wednesday, 8:30 p.m. (FS1)No. 17 Utah State at San Diego State, Saturday, 1:30 p.m. (FOX)Wyoming at UNLV, Saturday, 6 p.m. (CBS Sports Network)