Checking in on… the WAC

Posted by jstevrtc on December 11th, 2009

checkinginon

Sam Wasson of bleedCrimson.net and Travis Mason-Bushman of Vandal Nation are the RTC correspondents for the Western Athletic Conference.

CURRENT STANDINGS:

  1. Louisiana Tech (7-2)
  2. Idaho (5-3)
  3. Boise State (5-3)
  4. Utah State (4-3)
  5. San Jose State (4-4)
  6. Fresno State (4-4)
  7. Hawai’i (4-4)
  8. Nevada (3-4)
  9. New Mexico State (2-5)

Mediocrity continues for the WAC as the league came up largely empty against the toughest competition they faced this week and they now stand 38-32 in non-conference play.  Last week we talked about eight games and eight chances earn RPI boosting victories for the league.  The end result of those eight games was a 2-6 record.  Boise State lost to Illinois, New Mexico State was thumped by New Mexico, St. Mary’s snapped Utah State’s 37-game home winning streak, Pacific was snakebitten at Pacific, Idaho rocked then No. 25 Portland but got crushed on the road by Washington State, Louisiana Tech lost at Arizona and Fresno State knocked off San Diego.

Boise State (5-3)

The week’s results:

  • 12/6 L @ Illinois, 84-77
  • 12/9, W @ Idaho State, 79-67

Upcoming games:

  • 12/12 vs. San Diego

The Broncos added to the WAC’s list of “close but no cigar” games as they hung tough at Assembly Hall on the campus of the University of Illinois.  The Broncos cut Illinois’ 10 point second half lead down to just two at 76-74 with 21 seconds left to play but Illinois would go 6-for-6 from the free throw line in the final 20 seconds to seal the game.  The Broncos shrugged off in-state foe Idaho State three nights later in a bit of a role reversal from their previous game.  The Broncos led by 12 in the second half but Idaho State cut the lead down to two points at 60-58 with 4:41 left to play but the Broncos finished the game on a 19-9 run.

Ike Okoye continues to lead the Broncos as he’s averaging 15.5 points and 9.4 rebounds per game.  He’s one of four post players for the Broncos averaging double-digits in scoring as five of their top six leading scorers for Boise State are post players.

Fresno State (4-4)

The week’s results:

  • 12/6, W vs. San Diego, 69-37
  • 12/8, W @ Pepperdine, 80-72

Upcoming games:

  • 12/12 vs. BYU
  • 12/17 vs. UC-Davis

If you’re familiar with VH1 then you’ve probably heard of the show Best Week Ever.  That describes Fresno State’s week of play last week.  Maybe not the Best Week Ever but it was certainly the best week of any WAC team this season.  The Bulldogs righted the ship after dropping four straight and they knocked off San Diego at home by an impressive 69-37 score.  This is the same San Diego squad that defeated Stanford, Oklahoma and Houston to start the season.  The Bulldogs followed that up with a solid 80-72 road victory over Pepperdine.  The Bulldogs have another challenging week ahead of them as they host BYU and UC-Davis as they try to keep the momentum going.

Paul George tied a career-high with 29 points against Pepperdine and scored 24 of those points in the second half. George leads the Bulldogs in scoring with 17.8 points and 8.0 rebounds per game.  Forward Sylvester Seay is just behind George in production at 17.1 points and 6.0 rebounds per game.

Hawaii (4-4)

The week’s results:

  • 12/6, W vs. Lamar, 96-78
  • 12/9, W vs. Chaminade, 70-61

Upcoming games:

  • 12/13 vs. Chicago State

The Warriors, much like Fresno State, snapped a four game losing skid last week.  Hawai’i hosted Lamar and Chaminade and won both games.  Against Lamar, senior center Petras Balocka joined the 20/20 club as he netted 20 points and 20 rebounds (sadly Balocka had no blocks in that game and surprisingly has none this season).  Balocka’s 20/20 performance was the highest points/rebounds combination since his head coach, Bob Nash, dropped 28 points and grabbed 30 rebounds all the way back in 1971.  The Warriors avoided a monumental upset at the hands of in-island foe Chaminade as they squeaked out a 70-61 victory.  The Warriors did not lead the game until four minutes remained but finished the game on a 21-4 run.

The Warriors’ Roderick Flemings leads the team in scoring at 16.3 PPG, also averaging 6.5 RPG.  The Warriors have three other players averaging double-figures in scoring with Petras Balocka just missing out on averaging a double-double per game scoring 9.9 points and grabbing 10.7 RPG.

Idaho (5-3)

The week’s results:

  • 12/3, L @ Cal State-Northridge, 95-93
  • 12/6 W vs. #25 Portland, 68-48
  • 12/9 L @ Washington State, 76-64

Upcoming games:

  • 12/12 vs. Eastern Oregon

After stringing together three consecutive victories, the Vandals have now dropped two out of three.  A 95-93 road loss at Cal State-Northridge was followed by a resounding 68-48 victory over No. 25 Portland.  The euphoria was short-lived however as the Vandals trekked 10 miles across the Washington border to face rival Washington State where they were hit with their second loss in three games, a 76-64 decision that was not nearly as close as the score indicated.  The Vandals trailed by as many as 30 points in the second half but a long scoring drought by the Cougars allowed Idaho to cut the lead and make the final score respectable. The Vandals should be able to bounce back from their most recent setback with a game against Eastern Oregon before going on a 10 day break.

The Vandals’ trio of guards, Steffan Johnson, Mac Hopson and Kashif Watson lead Idaho is scoring with nearly identical numbers.  Johnson is averaging 13.0 points and 3.1 rebounds per game, Hopson is averaging 12.4 points and 4.1 rebounds per game and Watson is averaging 12.1 points and 3.3 rebounds per game.

Louisiana Tech (7-2)

The week’s results:

  • 12/5 W vs. Northwestern State, 98-70
  • 12/9 L @ Arizona, 83-67

Upcoming games:

  • 12/12 @ Centenary
  • 12/15 vs. Murray State

Louisiana Tech continues to lead the league with a 7-2 record after a split over the last week.  The Bulldogs made quick work of Northwestern State winning 98-70.  The Bulldogs then took their show west to Tucson and held an early first half lead over Arizona but hot shooting by the Wildcats (50.9% from the floor) was too much for the Bulldogs to handle.

Kyle Gibson continues his torrid pace as he’s averaging 21.4 points and 4.6 rebounds per game and is hitting 44.8% of his shots from the field, 42.3% of his three point attempts and 89.3% of his free throws.  Olu Ashaolu is averaging a near double-double still with 12.7 points and 9.7 rebounds per game on average.  Magnum Rolle continues to provide solid production in the post averaging 9.9 points and 7.6 rebounds per game.

Nevada (2-3)

The week’s results:

  • 12/05 L @ Pacific, 61-58
  • 12/08 W vs. Fresno-Pacific, 89-67

Upcoming games:

  • 12/12 vs. San Diego State
  • 12/17 vs. Eastern Washington

The Wolf Pack’s Armon Johnson became just the 19th player in school history to eclipse the 1,000 point mark in a career but his team dropped a close game to Pacific 61-58 in Stockton, California.  Luke Babbitt continued his impressive sophomore season (no sophomore slump for him) as he scored 17 points and grabbed 10 rebounds as he continues to average a double-double at 18.4 points and 10.6 rebounds per game.  The Wolf Pack returned home to the friendly confines of the Lawlor Events Center where they beat up on Fresno-Pacific.  The Wolf Pack are 3-0 at home but 0-4 on the road this season.  The good news for the Pack is that they’re in the midst of a four-game homestand and don’t leave the state of Nevada until after the New Year.

New Mexico State (2-5)

The week’s results:

  • 12/05 L @ New Mexico, 75-58.

Upcoming games:

  • 12/13 @ Texas-El Paso
  • 12/15 @ UCLA
  • 12/18 @ Pepperdine

Another rivalry game, another blowout loss.  The Aggie offense is stuck in neutral and Marvin Menzies’ squad continues to amass rivalry losses like they’re going out of style.  The Aggies committed a season-high 31 turnovers against the Lobos in The Pit and had as many turnovers, 18, as points 18, in the first half of the game and trailed 41-18 at the break.  The Aggies were victimized by offensive foul calls getting hit for eight offensive fouls to just one for the Lobos.  The Aggies’ were able to cut the Lobo lead down to nine points but had dug themselves too deep a hole to recover, finally succumbing to the Lobos and the hostile sold-out Pit.  Things don’t get any easier for the Aggies as they play three games in five days starting with another rivalry game against I-10 border rival UTEP followed by a quick two day turnaround when they face UCLA at Pauley Pavilion and then three nights later they face Pepperdine in Malibu, Calif.

Jahmar Young leads the Aggies averaging 19.3 points and 5.3 rebounds per game, Jonathan Gibson is averaging 18.4 points and 4.0 rebounds per game.  However, the Aggie offense is hitting just 39.7% of its shots from the field and just 25.9% of their three point attempts.  Even worse for the Aggies, they’re allowing opponents to hit 45% of their shots from the field and 35.4% of their three pointers.  One bit of good news for the Aggies is that they’ve made more free throws than their opponents have attempted (162 to 152) and are converting at a 75.7% clip from the free throw stripe.

San Jose State (4-4)

The week’s results:

  • 12/5, W at Utah Valley, 82-74
  • 12/8, L @ San Francisco, 76-71
  • 12/9, W vs. Cal State-Bakersfield, 84-80 (OT)

Upcoming games:

  • None in the coming week

The Spartans sit at 4-4 on the season after a potential 3-0 week turned into a 2-1 week.  The Spartans defeated Utah Valley and appeared to be on the way to victory over San Francisco but allowed the Dons to shoot 66.7% in the second half and make 31 trips to the free throw line.  As a result the Spartans fell 76-71.  SJSU rebounded the next evening with an 84-80 overtime victory over Cal State-Bakersfield.

Adrian Oliver continues to lead the Spartans averaging 17.4 points and 6.0 rebounds per game.  Justin Graham is averaging 10.5 points and 5.5 rebounds per game and center Chris Oakes is averaging a double-double with 10.3 points and 11.4 rebounds per game.  The Spartans are off until December 18.

Utah State (4-3)

The week’s results:

  • 12/5 L vs. St. Mary’s (CA), 68-63

Upcoming games:

  • 12/12 vs. Utah Valley
  • 12/16 @ Cal State-Bakersfield

The streak is over.  Utah State’s 37-game home winning streak, 65-game regular season non-conference winning streak and 41-straight game home non-conference victory streak all came to an end as St. Mary’s handed the Aggies a 68-63 defeat, just the 13th home loss under head coach Stew MorrillPooh Williams led the Aggies with 15 points on 6-of-7 shooting from the field.  Tai Wesley grabbed eight rebounds and added 12 points but the Aggies could not contain St. Mary’s center Omar Samhan who finished with 22 points and 17 rebounds.

The Aggies look to rebound when they face in-state rival Utah Valley before heading back out on the road to face Cal State-Bakersfield.

UPCOMING GAMES OF INTEREST:

12/12 – Fresno State vs. BYU – 7:00 P.M. PT (ESPN Full Court/ESPN360)

12/12 – Boise State vs. San Diego – 7:00 P.M. MT

12/13 – New Mexico State at UTEP – 7:00 P.M. MT

12/15 – New Mexico State at UCLA – 7:30 P.M. PT

12/15 – Louisiana Tech vs. Murray State – 7:00 P.M. CT

12/17 – Nevada vs. Eastern Washington – 7:00 P.M. PT

jstevrtc (547 Posts)


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