Checking in on the… WAC

Posted by rtmsf on February 19th, 2009

Kevin McCarthy of Parsing the WAC and Sam Wasson of bleedCrimson.net are the RTC correspondents for the WAC.

Current Standings

  1. Utah State (12-1, 24-2)
  2. Nevada (8-4, 15-10)
  3. Boise State (7-4, 17-7)
  4. New Mexico State (8-5, 14-12)
  5. Idaho (5-6, 11-13)
  6. Hawai’i (4-8, 12-12)
  7. San Jose State (4-8, 11-13)
  8. Louisiana Tech (4-9, 10-16)
  9. Fresno State (2-9, 10-16)

Random Thoughts: The rest of the league can thank us for putting the serious jinx on the UtAgs with our mention of potential undefeatedness in last week’s WAC Check-In. That being said, Utah State (12-1) will not be caught — a wise man told us — in the race for the league championship despite falling to Boise State Saturday night … Nevada has managed a solid 8-4 WAC record to date despite a young team and some returning players positioned in new roles … Boise State Coach Greg Graham and his Broncos stand at 7-4 with these games remaining until tourney time: Idaho, @ Portland State (BracketBuster), @ Louisiana Tech, @ New Mexico State, Fresno State and Nevada. That same wise man refused to offer who was going to be the second place finisher in the WAC and then told us to get off his lawn.

WAC Player of the Week:  Kyle Gibson

Gibson had the benefit (or not) of playing only one game this week but it was a doozy and obviously put him over the top. In a 55-43 victory over visiting Fresno State, he scored a season-high 26 points on 8-9 overall shooting that included a perfect 6-6 from three-point range. Gibson added five steals and four rebounds.  That night Gibson reaffirmed his POTW honors as he scored 21 points and nearly hit a 25 foot game winning three pointer at New Mexico State.

Runners Up:

  • Boise State senior Mark Sanchez
  • Fresno State freshman Paul George
  • Idaho junior Mac Hopson
  • Nevada sophomore Armon Johnson
  • New Mexico State sophomore Jahmar Young
  • Utah State senior Gary Wilkinson

Boise State. The Broncos busted the 19 game winning streak that Utah State had put together and ended the Aggies’ chances at an undefeated regular season in conference play. The Broncos now sport a 4-4 record against ranked opponents at home and it’s their first win over a ranked opponent since they defeated #20 BYU back in 2007. Riding their big victory the Broncos turn their attention to a rematch with in-state rival Idaho. The Vandals knocked off the Broncos 63-59 back on January 27 which prompted Boise State senior to utter the following, “… You can quote it or do what you want – Anthony Thomas will never lose to the Idaho Vandals again as long as he plays.” Bulletin boards in locker rooms around the country exploded into a million pieces.  The Broncos still have an outside, albeit very outside, shot at claiming a share of the WAC title. Utah State would need to lose their remaining three games and Boise State would need to win out, a tough task considering they have games at New Mexico State, at Louisiana Tech and a rematch with Nevada in Boise still on the docket.

Next up: Idaho on Wednesday, at Portland, OR Saturday to face Portland State in a Bracketbuster matchup

Fresno State. The Dogs lost on the road Saturday night 79-71 to New Mexico State in overtime. Frosh Mychal Ladd posted a double-double of 22 points and 13 boards and Sylvester Seay added 25 to go with nine rebounds. Fresno State’s starters played 203 of the 225 total minutes as Paul O’Neill remains suspended and Brandon Webster is sidelined with a broken hand. Earlier in the week in Ruston against Louisiana State, Steve Cleveland’s squad fell 55-42 on 26% shooting from the floor and being out-boarded 39-29.

Next up: Thursday against visiting Hawaii followed by a trip to UC Davis on Saturday for a BrackBuster matchup.

Hawaii. With the Rainbow Warriors holding a 46-39 lead on Saturday, Nevada scored the final seven points in the remaining 2:14 to take a 46-45 win. It was a case of ‘ugly ballin” on display as the Pack shot 36% from the floor to 34% for UH. Alternately, Hawaii held its third straight opponent to under 50% shooting but couldn’t muster enough points to triumph.

Next up: A Thursday trip to Fresno to face the Bulldogs and then back home to match up with BrackBuster foe UC Irvine.

Idaho. You can’t shut down Mac Hopson — you can only hope to contain him but San Jose State found out the hard way as the Vandal WAC Player of the Year candidate scored 17 of his total of 20 points in the second half to pace Idaho to a 74-66 homecourt victory. Coach Don Verlin’s team lost the rebounding battle 35-28 but committed just nine turnovers in ending a three-game losing streak. UI fell earlier in the week 62-53 to WAC leader Utah State but trailed by just three — 52-49 — with 3:27 left in the game.

Next up: A rematch with rival Boise State in Boise — Idaho won the first meeting 63-59 — comes up on Wednesday followed by hosting Cal State Northridge on Saturday in the BrackBuster alliance.

Louisiana Tech. After defeating Fresno State 55-42 on Saturday night, the Bulldogs made the trek to Las Cruces for a rare Monday conference game. After being thoroughly outplayed the first 32 minutes the Bulldogs which found them down 17, the Bulldogs went on a 29-14 run over the final eight minutes of the game to close to within 65-63 with just three seconds remaining in the game. After NM State sophomore Jahmar Young missed a pair of free throws that would have put the game out of reach, La. Tech’s Kyle Gibson raced up the floor and fired off a 25 foot shot as the buzzer sounded. The ball went in, spun around and came back out leaving the NM State fans breathing a huge sigh of relief and leaving La. Tech fans shaking their heads because they’d seen this movie before. The loss was La. Tech’s fifth loss by three points or less in conference play, each of those losses coming in the waning seconds of the game.

Next up: A pair of non-conference games against Houston Baptist and Murray State at Murray State for Bracketbusters.

Nevada. We guess the adage will need to be changed to “it ain’t over until Armon Johnson shoots his last shot” as the sophomore backcourter made a last second basket to boost the Wolf Pack over Hawaii 47-46 in Honolulu. Johnson finished with 25 points as he and his teammates overcame a seven-point deficit with less than three minutes to go. This even though Nevada had less rebounds, less assists, more personal fouls and a greater number of turnovers. A few days earlier, junior transfer Joey Shaw paved the way in an easy 80-68 Pack victory over San Jose State. He was 6-7 from the floor and 4-5 on his trey attempts in the first 20 minutes despite entering the game with 4-24 long distance shooting numbers in league play. Call his effort a Shaw-shooting-redemption.

Next up: The Wolf Pack hosts Virginia Commonwealth Friday in a BrackBuster duel.

New Mexico State. What’s the difference between 8-5 and 4th place and 5-8 and a tie for last place? A two point victory on the road on a three pointer by your sophomore power forward, a come-from-seven-behind-with-two-minutes-to-play-to-force-overtime win over Fresno State and a holy-crap-almost-made-it 25 foot miss as time expired by La. Tech’s Kyle Gibson. It may not be pretty but at the end of the day the Aggies have won three in a row in league play and are still in the running for a 2-seed in next month’s conference tournament. The Aggies’ narrow escapes against Fresno State and Louisiana Tech at home left Aggie fans breathless (and not in a good way) and probably gave head coach Marvin Menzies a few more gray hairs. The Louisiana Tech victory prompted Menzies to tell his team (and we’re paraphrasing), “You will never let that happen again, not just this season, but as long as you’re here at New Mexico State.” The victory saw the Aggies cough up a 17 point lead with eight minutes left, shades of a 19-point meltdown one year ago against North Texas in which they held the seemingly insurmountable lead with 13:23 remaining in the game… at home. Had La. Tech won it would have been the third consecutive season that the Aggies had given up a sizeable (17+ point) lead in the second half to lose a game (St. Mary’s in 2006-07).  The Aggies have a brief respite from conference play along with the rest of the league as they host Cal State-Fullerton on Saturday as part of the Bracketbusters event. It’s the renewal of an old Big West rivalry, one that the Aggies have a commandeering lead in (23-7 overall, 12-2 at home). This should be one of the better non-televised Bracketbusters games as it pits two fairly evenly matched opponents with NM State at 14-12 overall and CS-Fullerton at 13-12.

Next up: hosting Cal State-Fullerton on Saturday, February 21.

San Jose State. It’s been a downward arc as the Spartans, who are in the midst of a three game losing streak and currently without mega-scorer Adrian Oliver, is out with an ankle injury. It’s been a revolving matter of too many turnovers and opponents scoring too well. Most recently in the lost at Idaho, the Vandals shot 47% overall and also benefited from 17 SJSU turnovers to score 19 points. Earlier versus Nevada, the Spartans were down 42-23 at the half and the outcome was effectively determined. The Wolf Pack shot 62% from the floor, 47% from three-point range.

Next up: February 17 at home against Utah Valley State followed by a Saturday BracketBuster contest with UC Riverside.

Utah State. The Aggies clinched a share of the regular season title for the second consecutive season with their gritty victory over a game Idaho squad. The Aggies were unable to clinch the title however as they fell to Boise State 66-56 in Boise. Utah State travels to St. Mary’s (CA) to take on the Patty Mills-less Gaels in a televised Bracketbusters game. St. Mary’s has lost four of six without Mills and with Utah State’s 19 game winning streak snapped this matchup has gone from Must-See-TV to simply a “nice” basketball game between two 20-plus win mid-major teams who still have to win their conference tournament to punch a dance ticket. Gonzaga and Boise State will not be getting Christmas cards from us this year. Before their Bracketbusters matchup the Aggies will host Cal State-Bakersfield on Wednesday night.

Next up: at St. Mary’s for a televised Bracketbusters game.

Upcoming Games:

  • Thu., Feb. 19 – Houston Baptist at Louisana Tech – 7:00 p.m. CT
  • Thu. Feb. 19 – Hawai’i at Fresno State – 8:00 p.m. PT (ESPN2)
  • Fri., Feb. 20 – Virginia Commonwealth at Nevada – 6:00 p.m. PT (ESPNU)
  • Sat., Feb. 21 – Utah State at St. Mary’s – 2:00 p.m. PT (ESPN2)
  • Sat., Feb. 21 – Louisiana Tech at Murray State – 2:00 p.m. CT
  • Sat., Feb. 21 – Boise State at Portland State – 4:30 p.m. PT (ESPNU)
  • Sat., Feb. 21 – UC-Irvine at Hawai’i – 7:00 p.m. HT
  • Sat., Feb. 21 – Cal St.-Northridge at Idaho – 7:00 p.m. MT
  • Sat., Feb. 21 – Fresno State at UC-Davis – 7:00 p.m. PT
  • Sat., Feb. 21 – Cal St.-Fullerton at New Mexico State – 7:00 p.m. MT
  • Sat., Feb. 21 – UC-Riverside at San Jose State – 7:00 p.m. PT
rtmsf (3720 Posts)


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One Response to “Checking in on the… WAC”

  1. Travis says:

    Yeah, so Anthony Thomas is eating his words today.

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