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September 1, 2014

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Mountain West hoops power rankings: Feb. 17

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Justin M. Bowen

Kawhi Leonard of San Diego State looks to score against TreVon Willis of UNLV during their game Saturday, February 12, 2011 at the Thomas & Mack Center. San Diego State won 63-57.

We're entering the stretch run, and the top of the league is still intact.

Behind San Diego State and BYU, though? It's still a jam.

Let's explore …

1) San Diego State (26-1 overall, 11-1 MWC)

The Aztecs just keep winning, and with their toughest remaining game — BYU on Feb. 26 — being at home, there's a very real chance that they'll be 30-1 when the regular season draws to a close. It's not just the fact that SDSU keeps winning anymore, though, that makes this all so impressive. It's how the Aztecs are doing it. In a 63-57 victory at UNLV on Saturday, they won in a hostile road environment despite converting only one field goal in the game's final 10 minutes. That was followed up with a strong home victory over New Mexico on Wednesday night. SDSU is not just winning like the No. 6 team in the country should be, but it's playing up to the ranking on a nightly basis. Last Week: 1

2) BYU (24-2, 10-1)

Nothing new here, and Jimmer Fredette is still the nation's leading scorer. They had the mid-week off and will play at TCU on Saturday. One can only imagine what a bloodbath that could turn into. Last Week: 2

3) Colorado State (18-7, 8-3)

Colorado State jumps UNLV because the Rams keep winning. The Rebels' loss to the Aztecs is nothing to be completely ashamed of, but their performance against Air Force was brutal … but more on that in a second. When it comes to CSU, it's hard to ignore the fact that Tim Miles' club is simply working everyone its supposed to be beating. They've lost three times, but haven't been blown out by anyone. Should Miles be the MWC's Coach of the Year? To tell you the truth, he would have my vote if the season ended today. Last Week: 4

4) UNLV (19-7, 7-5)

The Rebels can reclaim the No. 3 slot by beating Colorado State in Fort Collins this weekend. It will take a much more inspired performance than the one they put on Wednesday night against the Falcons to do so, though. They only produced 14 field goals and tied a season low with 49 points. If it wasn't for their defense of late, UNLV might be in more trouble in terms of NCAA tournament aspirations. As it stands now, they've still got a great shot to finish third in the league. Last Week: 3

5) New Mexico (17-9, 5-6)

Following a four-game win streak, New Mexico lost back-to-back games at Colorado State and San Diego State. Both games were close and the Lobos still look much better than they did three weeks ago. But, unfortunately, No. 5 is about as high as they'll probably get in these rankings the rest of the way. Last Week: 5

6) Air Force (13-11, 4-7)

The Falcons lost their last two, and now get a home date with SDSU on Saturday, but they're still not deserving of a drop into the lower third. Last Week: 6

7) Utah (11-15, 4-8)

Defeating Wyoming at home — as the Utes should — on Wednesday night gives Jim Boylen's struggling group the minor bump. Last Week: 8

8) Wyoming (9-17, 2-10)

Since Frank Langley took over on an interim basis for the ousted Heath Schroyer, the Cowboys have put together two decent performances, downing TCU at home and then fading late in a loss to Utah. Gotta give the Pokes credit for not throwing in the towel at least, right? Last Week: 7

9) TCU (10-17, 1-11)

In the six games since Ronnie Moss was placed on indefinite suspension, junior point guard Hank Thorns Jr. has 47 assists and 15 turnovers. A 3:1 ratio ain't bad. But TCU is 0-6 in those games. So, yeah … that means the cellar spot doesn't change. Last Week: 9

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