Checking in on… the WAC

Posted by rtmsf on February 16th, 2010

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

After starting out conference play 0-2 the Utah State Aggies have stormed their way to the top of the conference. The Aggies are winners of ten straight and at 10-2, have a game and a half lead over second place New Mexico State and Louisiana Tech. The bottom of the league is starting to clear itself up as well as Idaho has gotten warm at the right time to move into seventh place. Boise State and Hawai’i are battling for the final conference tournament spot.

This weekend the WAC steps out of conference as they take on their BracketBusters foes highlighted by 20-6 Utah State hosting 20-6 Wichita State, 15-9 New Mexico State traveling to 16-8 Pacific, 20-5 Louisiana Tech traveling to 17-9 Northeastern and 15-9 Nevada traveling to 17-8 Missouri State. Additionally, Fresno State will face Big West leading UC-Santa Barbara. The rest of the WAC will face members from the middle of the standings in the Big West.

Current Standings

  1. Utah State, 20-6 (10-2)
  2. New Mexico State, 15-9 (8-3)
  3. Louisiana Tech, 20-5 (8-3)
  4. Nevada 15-9 (7-4)
  5. Fresno State, 13-13 (6-6)
  6. San Jose State 12-10 (5-7)
  7. Idaho, 12-12 (4-8)
  8. Hawai’i, 9-15 (2-9)
  9. Boise State, 11-14 (2-10)

Team Breakdowns

Boise State

The week’s results: 02/07 L vs. Idaho, 79-55, 02/11 L vs. Utah State, 72-67, 02/13 L vs. Nevada, 88-80 (OT)

Upcoming games: 02/17 vs. Cal State-Bakersfield, 02/20 vs. UC-Davis

The Broncos have dropped three in a row and sit in last place in the WAC and with a loss at eighth place Hawai’i earlier in the conference season, the Broncos appear to be the team on the outside looking in at the postseason. They’ll need to start winning some games and hope for some help from the Hawai’i opponents as the conference schedule winds down if they hope to make the eight-team conference tournament. The Broncos step out of conference this week to face a pair of Big West foes in Cal State-Bakersfield and UC-Davis as part of the ESPN BracketBusters event.

Fresno State (13-13, 6-6)

The week’s results:  02/06 W @ Hawai’i, 61-51, 02/11 W vs. New Mexico State, 83-64, 02/13 L vs. Idaho, 68-59

Upcoming games:  02/20 vs. UC-Santa Barbara

The Bulldogs continue their up and down season. Following wins over Hawai’i in Honolulu and a beating of then-first place New Mexico State, the Bulldogs followed up with a loss at home to seventh place Idaho, 68-59. The Bulldogs were swept by the Vandals this season and sit two games ahead of the Vandals with four tough conference games remaining as they will play three of their final four conference games on the road at Nevada, at San Jose State and at Utah State before closing out the season with Louisiana Tech. Their sweep at the hands of Idaho could play a big factor in the seedings in the conference tournament.

Hawaii (9-15, 2-9)

The week’s results:  02/06 L vs. Fresno State, 61-51, 02/13 L @ Louisiana Tech, 66-60

Upcoming games:  02/15 @ New Mexico State, 02/20 vs. Cal Poly

It continues to be close but no cigar for the extremely shorthanded Warriors. Hawai’i has now lost six games in a row and outside of a 23-point loss to San Jose State in SJ, the Warriors have lost five of those six games by 10 points or less and four of those by six or less. Head coach Bob Nash received more bad news as guard Jeremy Lay will miss the remainder of the season due to injury. The Warriors take on second place New Mexico State before hosting Cal Poly for their ESPN BracketBuster game.

Idaho (12-12, 4-8)

The week’s results: 02/07 L @ Boise State, 79-55, 02/10 L vs. Nevada, 67-66, 02/13 L @ Fresno State, 68-59

Upcoming games:  02/18 vs. Seattle, 02/20 vs. Long Beach State

The Vandals avenged their stunning home loss to in-state rival Boise State by taking them to the woodshed in the return game. The Vandals handed BSU their worst loss in the rivalry series. Idaho followed that win up with an oh-so-close loss to Nevada in which they led by two points with six seconds left before losing on a three point play by Nevada’s Armon Johnson. The Vandals regrouped to knock off Fresno State who was coming off a big victory over New Mexico State. Idaho hosts a pair of non-conference games when Seattle and Long Beach State come to Moscow.

Louisiana Tech (20-5, 8-3)

The week’s results:  02/08 L @ New Mexico State, 70-68, 02/13 W vs. Hawai’i, 66-60

Upcoming games:  02/17 @ Utah State, 02/20 @ Northeastern

After leading the WAC through the first half of the conference schedule, the Bulldogs have gone 3-3 in their past six games and have a very long road trip for a pair of tough upcoming games, at Utah State and then all the way back across the country to face Northeastern in a televised ESPN BracketBusters game. The Bulldogs were the last team to beat Utah State when they trounced the Aggies 82-60 in Ruston.

Nevada (15-8, 7-4)

The week’s results:  02/06 L @ Utah State, 76-65, 02/10 W vs. Idaho, 67-66, 02/13 W vs. Boise State, 88-80

Upcoming games: 02/17 vs. Fresno State, 02/20 @ Missouri State

The Wolf Pack lost on the road at Utah State, 76-65, and stole a victory in Moscow 67-66 on a three-point play with under six seconds left to stun Idaho. Nevada then outlasted Boise State 88-80 in overtime. The Wolf Pack sit just one game behind both Louisiana Tech and New Mexico State with both teams still facing road trips to Reno. They’ll host Fresno State before heading on the road to face Missouri State in their ESPN Bracketbusters game.

New Mexico State (15-9, 8-3)

The week’s results:  02/06 W vs. San Jose State, 94-82, 02/08 W vs. Louisiana Tech, 70-68, 02/11 L @ Fresno State, 83-64

Upcoming games: 02/15 vs. Hawai’i, 02/20 @ Pacific

The Aggies briefly moved into first place with a pair of victories over visiting San Jose State and Louisiana Tech but fell back into a tie for second place after a loss to Fresno State in their building.  Against Louisiana Tech, the Aggies saw a 32-point swing as they were down by 15 points in the first half and up by 17 points in the second before holding on for a two-point win. In the loss against Fresno State the Aggies had one of their worst free throw shooting performances as they finished the game 9-of-26 from the free throw stripe. They had a higher shooting percentage from the three point line, 9-of-22, than they did from the charity stripe. The Aggies will look to bounce back against a depleted Hawai’i squad before heading west to face Pacific in their ESPN BracketBusters game.

San Jose State (12-12, 5-7)

The week’s results:  02/06 L @ New Mexico State, 94-82, 02/13 L vs. Utah State, 81-65

Upcoming games:  02/20 @ Montana State

The Spartans have now lost four in a row and dropped to 5-7 in the league after suffering Ls at New Mexico State and at Utah State. The Spartans play just one game, their ESPN BracketBusters game on the road against Montana State this weekend, one of two consecutive games outside the conference as they’ll face Seattle before heading down the home stretch in conference.

Utah State (20-6, 10-2)

The week’s results:  02/05 W vs. Nevada, 76-65, 02/11 W @ Boise State, 72-67, 02/13 W@ San Jose State, 81-65

Upcoming games: 02/17 vs. Louisiana Tech, 02/21 vs. Wichita State

The Aggies find themselves atop the conference with just four conference games left and with only one of the three games on the road they have the inside track to the regular season title. If they can win out and reach the title game of the WAC tournament, they could have a strong case for an at-large bid with wins over BYU and a would-be win over Wichita State. The Aggies can build that case for an at-large if they can defeat Wichita State this Saturday, however, losses to Long Beach State and Utah in the non-conference don’t help their cause.



  • Nevada vs. Fresno State – 7:00 p.m. PT (Comcast SportsNet)
  • Boise State vs. Cal State-Bakersfield – 8:15 p.m. MT
  • Utah State vs. Louisiana Tech – 9:00 p.m. MT (ESPN2)


  • Idaho vs. Seattle – 7:00 p.m. PT


  • Northeastern vs. Louisiana Tech – 1:00 p.m. ET (ESPN2)
  • Missouri State vs. Nevada – 2:00 p.m. CT (ESPN2)
  • Idaho vs. Long Beach State – 5:30 p.m. PT
  • Montana State vs. San Jose State – 7:00 p.m. MT
  • Pacific vs. New Mexico State – 7:00 p.m .PT (ESPNU)
  • Hawai’i vs. Cal Poly – 8:00 p.m. HT
  • Utah State vs. Wichita State – 10:00 p.m. MT (ESPN2)
  • Boise State vs. UC-Davis – TBA
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Checking in on… the WAC

Posted by rtmsf on February 5th, 2010

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

Three sets of three teams, that’s how the standings look as the nine teams look to start the second half of the conference schedule. The top three teams are Utah State, winners of seven in a row, Louisiana Tech and New Mexico State. The middle tier is led by Nevada with the two California schools, San Jose State and Fresno State close behind. Then there are the bottom three teams. Boise State, Idaho and Hawai’i are all 2-7 in conference play and it appears that the three will battle for the final two spots in the WAC tournament.

Current Standings

  1. Utah State, 17-6 (7-2)
  2. Louisiana Tech, 19-4 (7-2)
  3. New Mexico State, 13-8 (6-2)
  4. San Jose State 12-10 (5-5)
  5. Fresno State, 11-12 (4-5)
  6. Boise State, 11-11 (2-7)
  7. Idaho, 10-11 (2-7)
  8. Hawai’i, 9-13 (2-7)

This week the ESPNU BracketBusters pairings were announced and the league received four televised games in the event.

  • Sat., 2/20, Louisiana Tech at Northeastern, 1 p.m. (ESPN2 HD /
  • Sat., 2/20, Nevada at Missouri State, 3 p.m. (ESPN2 HD /
  • Sat., 2/20, New Mexico State at Pacific, 10 p.m. (ESPNU)
  • Sat., 2/20, Wichita State at Utah State, 11:59 p.m. (ESPN2 HD /

The other five teams also face non-conference opponents as part of the event but their games will not be televised.

  • UC Santa Barbara at Fresno State
  • San Jose State at Montana State
  • Long Beach State at Idaho
  • UC Davis at Boise State
  • Cal Poly at Hawai‘i

The WAC will certainly look to put its best foot forward in the BracketBusters event as two teams, New Mexico State and Louisiana Tech, will face conference leaders Pacific and Northeastern respectively while Nevada and Utah State will face two teams from The Valley in Missouri State and Wichita State.

Team Breakdowns

Boise State (11-11, 2-7)

The week’s results:  01/30 W vs. Fresno State, 65-49

Upcoming games:  02/07 vs. Idaho, 02/11 vs. Utah State

The Broncos have won two in a row in conference play after handling a Paul George-less Fresno State squad 65-59 in Boise. The Broncos led for most of the game and never trailed in the second half. Daequon Montreal and Kurt Cunningham each scored 13 points while Paul Noonan hit four three-pointers to finish with a dozen points. The Broncos earned a season split with Fresno State with the win and moved into a three-way tie for 7th place along with Idaho, their next opponent, and Hawai’i.

Fresno State (11-12, 4-5)

The week’s results:  01/30 L @ Boise State, 65-49

Upcoming games:  02/06 @ Hawai’i, 02/11 vs. New Mexico State

It appears the effects of losing leading scorer Paul George have caught up to the Bulldogs. Fresno State lost back-to-back games in the state of Idaho and both by similar margins. Their latest loss was a 65-49 loss at the hands of Boise State. The Bulldogs remain winless on the road and must face Hawai’i in Honolulu on Saturday before coming home to host New Mexico State. The Bulldogs are winless on the road in conference play.

Hawai’i (9-13, 2-7)

The week’s results:  01/30 @ Nevada

Upcoming games:  02/06 vs. Fresno State

The Warriors’ slide continues as they put up a valiant fight but still fell to Nevada 66-60 in Reno. The Warriors have lost six of their last seven games and with four of their next five games coming against the top four teams in the league, there is not much a light at the end of the tunnel. Hawai’i can take solace from the fact that they battled in Reno in a game in which nobody gave them a chance. Roderick Flemings scored 17 points for Hawai’i and they tied the game at 56 with four minutes left to play but six consecutive free throws in the final 37.5 seconds by Nevada was the difference.

Idaho (10-11, 2-7)

The week’s results:  01/30 W @ Seattle, 87-85,  02/03 L @ Utah State, 80-62

Upcoming games:  02/07 @ Boise State,  02/10 vs. Nevada

The Vandals had an up and down week, mostly down as they squeezed out a close win against Seattle 87-85 and then were spanked by Utah State on national television.  Although to be fair they played without leading scorer and team leader Mac Hopson, who was held out after violating curfew the night before the game. The Vandals travel to Boise State in a revenge game and an all-important game in the league standings. Should Boise State win, the Vandals would essentially be two games behind the Broncos in the league standings as BSU would hold the tiebreaker with Idaho. However, if Idaho can pull out a victory, it would put them a game ahead of the Broncos in the standings and ensure that the tiebreaker would require more than a look at the head-to-head results.

Louisiana Tech (18-4, 6-2)

The week’s results:  01/30 L vs. New Mexico State, 91-77, 02/04 W vs. San Jose State, 71-64

Upcoming games:  02/08 @ New Mexico State

The Bulldogs split a pair of games but remained in first place after getting manhandled by New Mexico State, as they used a 15-0 run to start their game against San Jose State en route to a 71-64 victory. The Bulldogs travel to New Mexico State where they’ll look to exact revenge for their loss just over one week ago.

Nevada (13-8, 5-3)

The week’s results:  01/30 W vs. Hawai’i, 66-60

Upcoming games:  02/06 @ Utah State, 02/10 vs. Idaho

The Wolf Pack nearly suffered deja vu as they allowed an undermanned Hawai’i squad to hang around before icing the game from the free throw line. Nevada jumped out to an early lead but allowed a 12-0 run to end the half to send them into halftime tied with Hawai’i. The second half was a back and forth battle before Nevada’s six made free throws in the final 37.5 seconds saved the Wolf Pack from another stunning loss. Nevada travels to Logan to take on league-leading Utah State on Saturday night and then a trip to Moscow, Idaho, to take on the Vandals.

New Mexico State (13-8, 6-2)

The week’s results:  01/30 W @ Louisiana Tech, 91-77

Upcoming games:  02/06 vs. San Jose State, 02/08 vs. Louisiana Tech

The Aggies handed Louisiana Tech their first home loss of the season in a convincing 91-77 victory in Ruston. They played arguably their best game in two seasons and got a major outing from Hamidu Rahman who scored 22 points and grabbed 12 rebounds and was named the WAC Player of the Week for his effort. The Aggies also got 24 points from their bench which proved to be the difference in the game. NMSU faces San Jose State and Louisiana Tech, the two teams they just faced, at home in Las Cruces as they try to keep pace with Utah State at the top of the standings. And they got another boost as the NCAA declared redshirt sophomore forward Troy Gillenwater academically eligible to play for the remainder of the season. New Mexico State filed an appeal on behalf of Gillenwater with the NCAA to grant him eligibility which ended in a favorable ruling. Gillenwater averaged 12.1 points per game last season as a redshirt freshman.

San Jose State (12-10, 5-5)

The week’s results:  01/30 L @ Utah State, 77-58, 02/04 @ Louisiana Tech

Upcoming games:  02/06 @ New Mexico State

The Spartans’ hot streak was cooled off by the red-hot Utah State Aggies. San Jose State trailed Utah State by just two less than a minute into the second half but a huge run by the USU buried San Jose State as they fell by 19 points, 77-58. Adrian Oliver scored 19 points for the Spartans. Against the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs, the Spartans fell behind 15-0 to start the game and could never recover. They were able to cut the lead to seven points midway through the second half but the initial deficit was too much to overcome. The Spartans wrap up their road trip on Saturday night against New Mexico State, a team they defeated in San Jose.

Utah State (17-6, 7-2)

The week’s results:  01/30 W vs. San Jose State, 77-58, 02/03 W vs. Idaho, 80-62

Upcoming games:  02/05 vs. Nevada, 02/11 @ Boise State

The league’s hottest team resides in Logan, Utah. The preseason pick to win the league has risen to the top of the standings after a rough 0-2 start. Since getting blown out by 22 at Louisiana Tech, Utah State has won seven in a row and has had just one close game, an overtime win at Nevada 79-72. The other six games have been decided by an average of 23.5 points. The Aggies host Nevada in a rematch of that classic battle earlier in the season in Reno before taking a road trip to Boise State and San Jose State.


  • 02/06 – New Mexico State vs. San Jose State – 7:00 p.m. MT (AggieVision, ESPN Full Court)
  • 02/06 – Boise State vs. Idaho – 7:00 p.m. MT
  • 02/06 – Hawai’i vs. Fresno State – 8:00 p.m . HT (KFVE Honolulu, Bulldog Sports Network)
  • 02/06 – Utah State vs. Nevada – 8:00 p.m. (ESPNU)
  • 02/08 – New Mexico State vs. Louisiana Tech (ESPN Regional)
  • 02/10 – Idaho vs. Nevada – 8:00 p.m. PT (ESPN2)
  • 02/11 – Boise State vs. Utah State – 7:00 p.m. MT
  • 02/11 – Fresno State vs. New Mexico State – 7:00 p.m. PT
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Checking in on… the WAC

Posted by rtmsf on January 22nd, 2010

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

Current Standings

1.  Louisiana Tech, 17-3 (5-1)
1.  New Mexico State, 12-7 (5-1)
3.  Nevada 12-7 (4-2)
3.  Utah State, 14-6 (4-2)
5.  San Jose State 10-8 (3-3)
5.  Fresno State, 10-10 (3-3)
7.  Hawai’i, 9-10 (2-4)
8.  Idaho 8-8 (1-4)
9.  Boise State, 9-11 (0-7)

The cream is starting to rise to the top as Louisiana Tech and New Mexico State lead the league at 5-1 but preseason pick Utah State is tied with perennial WAC power Nevada for third place at 4-2.  The battle for the middle of the league is being waged between a better-than-their-record-indicates San Jose State squad along with a slumping Fresno State and a beaten-up Hawai’i squad.  The battle for the WAC basement resides in the state of Idaho where the Broncos of Boise State are off to their worst league start ever and Idaho is off to a surprising 1-4 start.

Boise State (9-11, 0-7)

The week’s results:
01/16 L @ Utah State, 81-59
01/20 L vs. Nevada, 88-82

Upcoming games:
01/25 @ Idaho

Things did not get any better for the Broncos in the past week as they extended their losing streak to seven games after being blown out by Utah State and dropping a tight contest at home to Nevada.  The Broncos are now off to their worst start in league play ever and it’s their longest losing streak since the 2001-02 season.  Despite their seven-game losing streak, the Broncos are not out of contention just yet for a spot in the conference tournament.  Their in-state brethren, the Idaho Vandals, have won just one league game and with a game against Utah State before round one of the in-state showdown, it is conceivable that the Broncos could tie things up at the bottom with a win next week over Idaho.

Fresno State (10-10, 3-3)

The week’s results:
01/16 L @ New Mexico State, 86-77
01/21 vs. Utah State, 69-43

Upcoming games:
01/23 vs. Nevada
01/28 @ Idaho

The Bulldogs have lost three straight after starting league play 3-0.  Their latest setback was a thrashing at the hands of Utah State.  The Bulldogs’ bigger concern is the health of their leading scorer Paul George who sprained an ankle early in the loss and did not return.  His return to the court is up in the air and with a tough game against Nevada coming up, a hot start to the season is threatening to give way to a midseason slide.

Hawaii (9-10, 2-4)

The week’s results:
01/18 W vs San Jose State, 68-67
01/21 L vs. New Mexico State, 71-69

Upcoming games:
01/24 vs Louisiana Tech
01/28 @ San Jose State

The Warriors were involved in a pair of down-to-the-wire thrillers as they hosted San Jose State and New Mexico State.  They were on the winning side of one and the losing side of on, edging out San Jose State on a pair of free throws with 2.1 seconds remaining but then falling victim to a last second jumper from New Mexico State’s Jahmar Young.  The Warriors host their second league leading team when the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs come to town on January 24, and follow that up with a rematch against San Jose State.  A split of the two games would keep the Warriors in the middle of the WAC pack.

Idaho (8-8, 1-4)

The week’s results:
01/16 L @ Nevada, 76-68

Upcoming games:
01/23 vs. Utah State
01/25 vs. Boise State
01/28 vs. Fresno State

The Vandals are on a three-game losing streak after falling to Nevada on the road last week.  Idaho has a crucial three-game home stand starting with red-hot Utah State, then in-state rival Boise State in a game that could determine which of the two teams stays out of the WAC basement for the remainder of the season and ending with a game against a potentially Paul George-less Fresno State.  Idaho can put itself right back in the league race with a sweep of the home stand or, if they lose all three games, they could find themselves in the WAC basement.

Louisiana Tech (17-2, 5-0)

The week’s results:
01/21 L @ San Jose State, 87-76

Upcoming games:
01/24 @ Hawai’i

The Bulldogs’ winning streak came to an end in San Jose as the Spartans knocked off the league leader 87-76.   The loss snapped a 10-game win streak.  Kyle Gibson led the Bulldogs with 22 points but it was not enough to offset his career night by SJSU’s Adrian Oliver who scored 39 points.  The Bulldogs will look to get back on the winning track when they face Hawai’i.

Nevada (10-7, 2-2)

The week’s results:
01/16 W vs. Idaho, 76-68
01/20 @ Boise State, 88-82

Upcoming games:
01/23 @ Fresno State

The Wolf Pack beat the two Idaho schools, one at home and the other on the road to bounce back from their overtime loss to Utah State on national television.  The Wolf Pack improved to 4-2 and sit just a half game behind New Mexico State in the loss column.

New Mexico State (10-7, 3-1)

The week’s results:
01/16 W vs. Fresno State, 86-77
01/21 W @ Hawai’i, 71-69

Upcoming games:
01/23 @ San Jose State

New Mexico State is on a roll having won four in a row following a disappointing loss to Nevada back on January 4.  The Aggies have posted back-to-back comeback wins against Fresno State and Hawai’i.  Jahmar Young buried a last second 18-foot jumper with 0.9 seconds left on the clock to give the Aggies a win at Hawai’i.  That coupled with a loss by Louisiana Tech at San Jose State moved the Aggies into a tie for first place atop the WAC.  The Aggies face San Jose State on Saturday night in a game that will feature a couple of electric scorers in New Mexico State’s Jahmar Young and San Jose State’s Adrian Oliver, who torched Louisiana Tech for 39 points in SJSU’s win.

San Jose State (10-8, 3-3)

The week’s results:
01/18 L @ Hawai’i, 68-67
01/21 W vs. Louisiana Tech, 87-76

Upcoming games:
01/23 vs. New Mexico State
01/28 vs. Hawai’i

The Spartans split their two games, losing a heartbreaker to Hawai’i 68-67 when the Warriors hit a pair of free throws with 2.1 seconds left to win the game.  However, they bounced back to hand Louisiana Tech their first loss in conference play.  Adrian Oliver scored a career-high 39 points, one shy of the single game record of 40 set by Wally Rank on January 3, 1980.  The Spartans host league leading New Mexico State on Saturday in a game that should be a shootout.

Utah State (14-6, 4-2)

The week’s results:
01/16 W vs. Boise State, 81-59
01/21 W @ Fresno State, 69-43

Upcoming games:
01/23 @ Idaho

The Aggies have their mojo back.  After getting pounded by 22 at Louisiana Tech, Utah State has found whatever they were missing and is now the team doing the pounding.  Riding a four-game win streak the Aggies have beaten three of their past four opponents by an average of 30.7 points.  Their lone close game was an impressive overtime win in Reno, site of this year’s conference tournament.  The Aggies travel to Moscow, ID, to take on the Vandals where it will pit head coach Stew Morrill against long-time assistant Don Verlin who is now in his second season at Idaho.


01/23 – Idaho vs. Utah State – 5:00 p.m. PT (ESPN360)
01/23 – Hawai’i vs. Louisiana Tech – 7:00 p.m. HT (KFVE Honolulu)
01/23 – San Jose State vs. New Mexico State – 7:00 p.m. PT
01/23 – Fresno State vs. Nevada – 7:00 p.m. PT (Comcast SportsNet California)
01/25 – Idaho vs. Boise State – 8:00 p.m. PT (ESPNU)
01/28 – San Jose State vs. Hawai’i – 7:00 p.m. PT
01/28 – Idaho vs. Fresno State – 7:00 p.m. PT

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Checking in on… the WAC

Posted by rtmsf on January 8th, 2010

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

The WAC opened up league play this past weekend and after the first weekend there were a couple of surprises.  The biggest surprise came from Utah State.  The Aggies went on the road to open up league play and lost to New Mexico State in a close game and then were blown out by Louisiana Tech two nights later.  The preseason pick to win the league by both the media and coaches has their work cut out for them if they hope to win the league title for a third consecutive season.


1) Louisiana Tech, 14-2 (2-0)
2) San Jose State, 8-5 (1-0)
3) Fresno State 8-7 (1-0)
T4) Idaho 8-5 (1-1)
T4) Nevada, 9-6 (1-1)
T4) Hawai’i, 8-7 (1-1)
T4) New Mexico State, 8-7 (1-1)
T8) Utah State, 10-6 (0-2)
T8) Boise State, 9-6 (0-2)

The league saw a significant drop in scoring in the first weekend of games.  Perhaps the familiarity of the offensive sets and plays had something to do with that but after two games Louisiana Tech leads the league in scoring and is averaging 79.5 points per game.  Five of the nine teams are averaging less than 70 points per game (in non-conference play seven of nine teams averaged at least 73 points per game) and Utah State has struggled to find their offense scoring just 56 points per game through two contests.

Team Breakdowns

Boise State (9-6, 0-2)

The week’s results:  01/02 L @ Fresno State, 71-68, 01/05 @ Hawai’i, 76-68

Upcoming games:  01/09 vs. New Mexico State, 01/11 vs. Louisiana Tech

The Broncos opened conference play on the road and were dealt two losses.  The Broncos led Fresno State nearly the entire game but Fresno State’s Paul George hit a layup and drew a foul on Boise State’s Robert Arnold to give Fresno State a 68-66 lead with 48.5 seconds left.  After Boise State tied the game up with 22.6 seconds left Paul George got another layup and was fouled giving the Bulldogs a 71-68 lead.  The Broncos were unable to hit the three-pointer as time expired as they let one slip away.  Against Hawai’i the Broncos trailed big early falling behind 21-7 with 8:59 left in the first half but by halftime they had erased the 14 point deficit and took a 28-27 lead into the break.  The Warriors went on a 12-2 run in the second half and built a lead they would not relinquish.  Boise State’s Daequon Montreal leads the Broncos in scoring in league play averaging 20 points per game and is sixth in the league in scoring through two conference games.  The Broncos are the second best team in the league in steals and are averaging 6.5 steals per game.  Despite their two losses the Broncos lead the league in assists per game averaging 15.0 per game.  The Broncos host New Mexico State and league leading Louisiana Tech this coming week. A minimum split of these two games at home is a must if the Broncos want to keep from falling behind in the league race.

Fresno State (8-7, 1-0)

The week’s results:  01/02 W vs. Boise State, 71-68

Upcoming games:  01/09 vs. Hawai’i, 01/11 vs. San Jose State

The Bulldogs played just one league game last week but they made it count as they rallied at home to defeat Boise State.  Paul George’s 21 points in the conference opener included two three-point plays in the final minute as they erased a 7 point deficit with 5:10 left to play.  George was 11-of-12 from the free throw line in the game.  The Bulldogs have a very favorable schedule to start league play with five of the first seven at home.  Fresno State leads the league in free throw percentage and are hitting 75 percent of their attempts. They are also fourth in the league in steals averaging 6.0 steals per game.  The Bulldogs host Hawai’i and San Jose State this coming week, a pair of games that the Bulldogs must win to establish themselves as an upper tier team in the conference.

Hawai’i (8-7, 1-1)

The week’s results:  01/03 L vs. Idaho, 59-52, 01/05 W vs. Boise State, 76-68

Upcoming games:  01/09 @ Fresno State, 01/11 @ Utah State

The Warriors split their opening weekend’s conference games as they fell 59-52 to Idaho in a defensive struggle.  The Warriors trailed 40-26 with 16:30 left to play but cut the Vandal lead down to four at 49-45 with 3:18 left to play but could get no closer.  The two teams combined to go just 26-of-43 from the free throw line as Hawai’i hit 14-of-21 and Idaho hit 12-of-22.  The Warriors rebounded two nights later as they hosted Boise State.  They used a 12-2 run early in the second half to put themselves comfortably ahead and then used a 14-for-15 performance from the free throw line in the final seven minutes to seal the deal.  In stark contrast to their previous game the Warriors hit 20-of-26 free throws (76.9 percent).  The Warriors lead the league in scoring defense through two games allowing just 63.5 points per game.  They are also third in the league in free throw percentage at 72.3 and have attempted the most free throws in the league with 47 attempts.  Paul Campbell leads the league in field goal percentage at 87.5 percent having hit 14-of-16 shots through two games.  The Warriors go on the road to Fresno State and Utah State this week.  A split of the two games would be considered a huge plus for the team.

Idaho (8-5, 1-1)

The week’s results:  01/03 W @ Hawai’i, 59-52, 01/04 L @ San Jose State, 78-75

Upcoming games:  01/09 vs. Louisiana Tech, 01/11 vs. New Mexico State

The Vandals split their road trip to Hawai’i and San Jose State as they held on for a hard fought 59-52 victory over Hawai’i but fell to the Spartans by three in a back-and-forth battle in San Jose.  Both teams shot above 50 percent for the game.  Mac Hopson led Idaho with 19 points, eight rebounds and seven assists.  Idaho held a six point lead early in the second half but were undone by a six-minute offensive drought.  Idaho is second in the league in three point percentage hitting 37.8 percent of their threes (14-of-37) and tops in the league in three point defense as opponents have hit just 7-of-28 through two league games.  The Vandals host league leading Louisiana Tech and New Mexico State this coming week and a sweep at home would put the Vandals in prime position as they play five of their next six conference games at home.

Louisiana Tech (14-2, 2-0)

The week’s results:  01/02 W vs. Nevada, 77-71, 01/04 W vs. Utah State, 82-60

Upcoming games:  01/09 @ Idaho, 01/11 @ Boise State, 01/14 vs. Fresno State

Doubters of Louisiana Tech’s gaudy 12-2 record in non-conference play were quickly silenced as the Bulldogs had a pair of statement victories to open league play.  The Bulldogs held off Nevada 77-71 and then obliterated preseason favorite Utah State 82-60.  Jamel Guyton led the way for the Bulldogs against the Wolf Pack scoring 21 points on 7-of-14 shooting and 6-of-7 shooting from the free throw stripe he added six rebounds and three steals and played 38 minutes.  Kyle Gibson played all 40 minutes against the Pack and added 17 points, seven rebounds and a pair of steals.  Against Utah State the Bulldogs trailed 2-0 but a three pointer gave them a 3-2 lead five minutes into the game and they would not trail for the remainder.  The Bulldogs held a 33-point lead at 69-36 before eventually winning by 22.  Magnum Rolle finished the game with 21 points on 9-of-15 shooting and added 14 rebounds for another double-double.  Louisiana Tech hit 53.3 percent of their field goals, 50 percent of their three point attempts (7-of-14) and 73.3. percent of their free throws (11-of-15) in the rout.  The Bulldogs lead the conference in scoring at 79.5 points per game and have a +14.0 scoring margin per game, the second best margin in the league is +3.0 (Fresno State and San Jose State).  The Bulldogs are second in the legaue in field goal percentage having hit 50 percent of their shots, they are also the best field goal percentage defense allowing just 41.6 percent of their opponents shots to go in.  To go along with the defensive effort the Bulldogs lead the league in steals per game at 7.5.  The Bulldogs will look to further silence their critics as they travel to the state of Idaho this weekend to face Idaho and Boise State.

Nevada (9-6, 1-1)

The week’s results:  01/02 W @ Louisiana Tech, 77-71, 01/04 W @ NMSU, 77-67

Upcoming games:  01/09 vs. San Jose State, 01/13 vs. Utah State

The Wolf Pack earned a road split in one of the most difficult road trips in the WAC, the Ruston/Las Cruces trip.  After dropping a game to Louisiana Tech to start the conference season, the second consecutive season in which they’ve dropped the season opener, the Wolf Pack rebounded with a commanding victory over New Mexico State.  Though the final margin in the victory over New Mexico State was just 10 points, there was little drama in the second half.  Leading by just seven at the break the Wolf Pack never allowed the Aggies to get closer than five points (41-36) and held a 17-point lead at 71-54 with 3:43 remaining to play.  Luke Babbitt played 39 minutes and scored a game high 26 points and grabbed 11 rebounds.  He finished 10-of-14 from the floor and a perfect 3-of-3 from behind the three point arc.  It was Babbitt’s seventh 20-plus point performance and fifth consecutive.  It was also his 10th double-double in 15 games this season.  The Wolf Pack lead the league in rebounding margin at +8.0 per game and are averaging 40.5 rebounds per game.  They also lead the league in offensive rebounds per game at 13.5 and defensive rebounds per game at 27.0 per game.  Lack of bench production continues to be a concern for the Wolf Pack as an article earlier this week by the Reno Gazette-Journal’s beat writer Chris Murray reported that Nevada’s bench contributes just 43 minutes per game, lowest in the league.  They score just 11.7 points per game, third worst in the league.  The Wolf Pack host their next three conference games as San Jose State, Utah State and Idaho all come to Reno.

New Mexico State (8-7, 1-1)

The week’s results:  01/02 W vs. Utah State, 55-52, 01/04 L vs. Nevada, 77-71

Upcoming games:  01/09 @ Boise State, 01/11 @ Idaho

New Mexico State grinded out a 55-52 victory over Utah State to string together their fifth victory of the season.  Jonathan Gibson’s jumper with 17 seconds remaining gave the southern Aggies a three point lead and when Utah State’s three pointer with three seconds left hit iron New Mexico State fans breathed a sigh of relief.  The Aggies went through a six minute scoring drought allowing Utah State to climb back into the game but solid defense down the stretch, a rarity in Las Cruces this season, enabled the southern Aggies to hang on for the victory.  Unfortunately for Marvin Menzies and his crew the euphoria was short lived as Luke Babbitt and Nevada strolled into town two nights later.  The Wolf Pack dominated the Aggies from start to finish.  The Aggies never led in the game and there was just one tie, 2-2, 2:18 into the game.  The Aggie defense had no answer for Luke Babbitt and he scored inside and outside on the Aggies and finished with 26 points.  The Aggies did have five players finish in double-figures in scoring, generally a stat that leads to a win, however, the Aggies’ high-scoring combo of Jahmar Young and Jonathan Gibson mustered only 27 points combined (the duo averaged nearly 40 points per game combined in non-conference play).  The Aggies lead the league in turnover margin at +4.0 and are second in the league in scoring defense giving up 64.5 points per game.  The high flying Aggie offense has been grounded through two league games and are averaging 61.0 points per game, only bettering the 56.0 points per game their fellow Aggies from Logan have put up through two games.  New Mexico State takes the trip to the state of Idaho as they face Boise State and Idaho this weekend.  The Aggies and Broncos have had some wild affairs the past several seasons and the Aggies have never had a particularly easy time in Moscow, even when the Vandals were way down.  Their largest margin of victory over Idaho is just 10 points and last season they suffered their first loss at Idaho since joining the league in the 2005-06 season.

San Jose State (8-5, 1-0)

The week’s results:  01/04 W vs. Idaho, 78-75

Upcoming games:  01/09 @ Nevada, 01/11 @ Fresno State, 01/14 vs. Boise State

The Spartans played just one conference game on opening weekend but they made it count.  SJSU squeaked by Idaho in an offensive slugfest.  Both teams shot above 50 percent from the game but it was Adrian Oliver’s three pointer late in the game that proved to be the difference maker.  The Spartans won a conference opener for the first time since the 1998-99 season.  Adrian Oliver led the Spartans with 22 points on 8-of-17 shooting.  C.J. Webster added 21 points and 11 rebounds on 10-of-14 shooting.  The Spartans are second in the league in scoring at 78.0 points per game and are second best in the league in free throw shooting hitting 73.3 percent of their attempts.  The Spartans will fully kick off the conference season with road trip to face Nevada and Fresno State followed by a home contest against Boise State.  A 2-1 stretch in the three games could signal that San Jose State is ready to get out of the WAC basement.

Utah State (10-6, 0-2)

The week’s results:  01/02 L @ NMSU, 55-52, 01/04 L @ Louisiana Tech, 82-60

Upcoming games:  01/11 vs. Hawai’i, 01/13 @ Nevada

Shellshocked. That’s what the Aggie faithful must be feeling after a shocking 0-2 road trip to open conference play.  After losing a grinder against New Mexico State in a game that favored the northern Aggies, Utah State went on the road and suffered their second worst loss in conference play since joining the WAC (a 100-70 loss at New Mexico State in the 2007-2008 season was the worst).  The last time the Aggies started 0-2 in the WAC they were 10-3 heading into league play and finished just 9-7 but advanced to the conference championship game before falling to host New Mexico State by two.  It’s no time to panic if you’re a Utah State fan. History is on your side.  Two games into the conference season the Aggie offense is nowhere to be found.  The Aggies are averaging a league worst 56 points per game.  The Aggies are second worst in the league in three point shooting 23.1 percent a departure from their normally hot three point shooting.  Utah State hosts Hawai’i as they try to get in the win column and then two days later they travel to Reno for they always contentious battle with the Wolf Pack.


  • 01/09 – Idaho vs. Louisiana Tech – 5:00 p.m. PT
  • 01/09 – Fresno State vs. Hawai’i – 7:00 p.m. PT
  • 01/09 – Boise State vs. New Mexico State – 7:00 p.m. MT
  • 01/09 – Nevada vs. San Jose State – 7:00 p.m. PT
  • 01/11 – Fresno State vs. San Jose State – 7:00 p.m. PT
  • 01/11 – Idaho vs. New Mexico State – 7:00 p.m. PT (ESPNU)
  • 01/11 – Boise State vs. Louisiana Tech – 7:00 p.m. MT
  • 01/11 – Utah State vs. Hawai’i – 7:00 p.m. MT
  • 01/13 – Nevada vs. Utah State – 8:00 p.m. PT (ESPN2)
  • 01/14 – San Jose State vs. Boise State – 7:00 p.m. PT
  • 01/14 – Louisiana Tech vs. Fresno State – 8:00 p.m. CT (ESPN Regional)
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Checking in on… the WAC

Posted by rtmsf on December 26th, 2009

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


  1. Louisiana Tech (11-2)
  2. Utah State (9-4)
  3. Boise State (8-4)
  4. Idaho (6-4)
  5. Nevada (7-5)
  6. Hawai’i (6-6)
  7. San Jose State (6-5)
  8. New Mexico State (6-6)
  9. Fresno State (6-7)

The WAC has picked up a little steam in the non-conference now that they have finished facing the tougher opponents and has a non-conference record of 65-42.  In the past week of play it posted a 17-7 record in non-conference play.  Unfortunately the league had plenty of wasted opportunities to notch RPI-boosting wins and as a result the highest rated team in the RPI is Louisiana Tech at #69 and they are the only team with a Top 100 RPI.  Nevada is the next closest at #102.  With most of the team wrapping up their non-conference play in the next week against weak opponents, the league as a whole is the 14th rated league according to conference RPI, much lower than they had hoped for heading into the season and even behind the Colonial Athletic, Conference USA, West Coast Conference and Horizon League and just ahead of the Mid-American and Big Sky.

Boise State (5-4)

The week’s results:  12/19 W vs. Houston Baptist, 96-59, 12/21 W vs. Portland State, 69-62, 12/23 W vs. Montana State, 58-56

Upcoming games:  12/29 vs. Northwest Nazarene

Ike Okoye leads the Broncos nearly averaging a double-double with 14.1 points and 9.0 rebounds per game.  La’Shard Anderson is averaging 12.1 points per game.  Two other Broncos are averaging double-digits in scoring as Robert Arnold is averaging 11.0 points per game and Kurt Cunningham is averaging 10 points per game for the Broncos.

The Broncos are riding a three game winning streak and should make it four in a row before they head into league play on the road.  Boise State notched wins over Houston Baptist and then took down a pair of Big Sky opponents in Portland State and Montana State.  The Broncos host Northwest Nazarene on Tuesday, December 29.

Fresno State (6-7)

The week’s results:  12/19 W vs. North Dakota State, 68-54, 12/21 L @ Montana, 59-56, 12/23 L @ Oregon State, 73-65

Upcoming games:  12/28 vs. Colorado State

The Bulldogs have lost two in a row to drop below .500 on the season after losses at Montana and Oregon State.  The Bulldogs came up three points shy versus the Grizzlies in Missoula in a  game that was tied at halftime.  Fresno State led until 2:47 left in the game and trailed by one point with 41 seconds left but Montana’s Anthony Johnson drained a foul-line jumper to give the Grizzlies a three point lead.  Paul George scored 28 points and grabbed 10 rebounds in the game but it was not quite enough.  Against Oregon State the Bulldogs led 4-2 early on but after a 9-0 run by the Beavers, the Bulldogs trailed the rest of the game.  Paul George once again led the Bulldogs scoring 15 points and grabbing nine rebounds.  George is averaging 17.4 points and 8.2 rebounds per game this season.  Sylvester Seay is averaging 15.6 points and 5.5 rebounds while Greg Smith is averaging 11.5 points and 6.6 points per game.

The Bulldogs wrap up non-conference play at home against Colorado State on Monday, December 28.

Hawaii (6-5)

The week’s results:  12/22 W vs. College of Charleston (Diamond Head Classic), 84-71, 12/23 L vs. No. 20 UNLV (Diamond Head Classic), 77-53,  12/25 L vs. St. Mary’s (Diamond Head Classic), 84-75.

Upcoming games:  12/29 vs. Northwestern State

The Warriors picked up a solid win over College of Charleston in the Diamond Head Classic but were overmatched against No. 20 UNLV falling 77-53 and St. Mary’s on Christmas Day.  The Warriors will close out non-conference play against Northwestern State.

Roderick Flemings is averaging 15.0 points and 6.5 rebounds for the Warriors.  Petras Balocka is averaging a double-double with 10.4 points and 10.1 rebounds per game.  Dwain Williams and Hiram Thompson are both averaging double-digits in scoring with Williams at 12.0 points per game and Thompson at 10.2 points per game.

Idaho (6-4)

The week’s results:  12/22 L @ Portland, 82-52

Upcoming games:  12/29 vs. Lewis-Clark State (in Boise, ID)

The Vandals started the non-conference season with an impressive 94-87 win over Utah in Salt Lake City.  However, they ended the non-conference season with a disastrous 30-point loss to Portland.  Portland’s Jared Stohl torched the Vandals for 30 points on a school-record 10 threes.  Not helping the cause were the Vandals’ awful free throw shooting, 12-of-29 (41.4 percent) and they hit just 2-of-11 three point attempts.  Mac Hopson led the Vandals with 15 points while Marvin Jefferson pulled won eight rebounds.  The Vandals have a lengthy layoff to think about their last loss before they start conference play.  Idaho has a 12-day layoff before facing Hawai’i on the islands on January 3, 2010.

Louisiana Tech (11-2)

The week’s results:  12/19 W vs. McNeese State, 87-81, 12/22 W vs. UT-Pan American, 79-58

Upcoming games: 12/29 @ Houston

The Bulldogs continued their impressive play with a pair of victories over McNeese State and UT-Pan American.  The Bulldogs have one final non-conference test against Houston.  Louisiana Tech continues to have five players averaging double-digits in scoring and are led by Kyle Gibson who is averaging 21.1 points per game.  Two Bulldogs are nearly averaging double-doubles as Olu Ashaolu is averaging 11.8 points and 8.5 rebounds per game and Magnum Rolle is averaging 11.7 points and 8.2 rebounds per game.

Nevada (7-5)

The week’s results:  12/19 W vs. Wagner, 74-61, 12/22 L vs. BYU (Las Vegas Classic), 110-104, 12/23 W vs. Tulsa (Las Vegas Classic), 99-68

Upcoming games:  12/28 vs. Portland

The Wolf Pack lost a shootout with the BYU Cougars in the Las Vegas Classic, 110-104.  The Pack led 50-46 at the half but BYU scored 64 points in the second half to erase the halftime deficit.  BYU’s Jimmer Fredette scored 33 points and dished out six assists and had three steals.  Armon Johnson nearly matched Fredette’s production for the Wolf Pack with 30 points and five assists.  Luke Babbitt scored 20 points and grabbed six rebounds for the Wolf Pack as well.  Nevada rebounded from the loss with a convincing 99-68 victory over Tulsa.  Luke Babbitt led the way for the Wolf Pack with 24 points and 11 rebounds.  Dario Hunt and Armon Johnson each chipped in 17 points as the Wolf Pack shot 56 percent (36-of-64) from the field for the game.

The Wolf Pack wrap up non-conference play against Portland on Monday, December 28.

New Mexico State (6-6)

The week’s results:  12/18 W @ Pepperdine, 78-72, 12/21 W vs. Alcorn State, 97-72, 12/23 W vs. Texas Southern, 79-75

Upcoming games:  12/28 vs. Prairie View A&M

The Aggies and head coach Marvin Menzies are on a three game winning streak but the bigger news for the squad is that they received a much needed boost in depth when is was announced that junior forward Wendell McKines was declared academically eligible and cleared to play with the team the rest of the season.  McKines suited up for the first time this season against Alcorn State, a 97-72 Aggie victory.  McKines scored eight points, grabbed eight rebounds and dished out six assists. However, his presence was much more noticeable in the Aggies’ 79-75 victory over a pesky Texas Southern squad.  The Aggies played without starting center Hamidu Rahman who is averaging 12.3 points and 9.3 rebounds per game.  McKines stepped up and scored 18 points, grabbed 11 rebounds and dished out another six assists as the Aggies avoided the upset against Texas Southern.

The Aggies host one final non-conference game at home versus Prairie View A&M as they try to push their record over .500 for the first time all season.

San Jose State (6-5)

The week’s results:  12/18 W @ UC-Irvine, 69-56, 12/21 L @ Northern Colorado, 93-69, 12/23 W @ Santa Clara, 74-68

Upcoming games:  12/28 vs. UC-Irvine

After a week without playing the Spartans took to the road for a three-game swing and came away with a 2-1 record.  The Spartans picked up a 69-56 victory over UC-Irvine but then traveled to Greeley, CO, and got whacked by Northern Colorado.  The Bears’ hit 18 three pointers en route the victory over the visiting Spartans.  SJSU rebounded with a solid 74-68 win at Santa Clara. The Spartans will wrap up their non-conference schedule with a return game from UC-Irvine as the Spartans try to sweep the Anteaters.

The Spartans have three players averaging double-digits in scoring as they’re led by Adrian Oliver at 19.9 points per game. Chris Oakes is averaging a double-double scoring 10.3 points and grabbing 11.4 rebounds per game and Justin Graham is averaging 10.4 points and 4.3 assists per game.

Utah State (9-4)

The week’s results:  12/18 L @ Long Beach State, 75-62, 12/21 W vs. Morehead State, 79-72, 12/22 W vs. Cal State-Fullerton, 83-60, 12/23 W vs. Weber State, 85-73

Upcoming games:  12/29 vs. Western Oregon

The Aggies should head into conference play on a four game winning streak.  After dropping a tough game at Long Beach State, the Aggies rebounded with three consecutive home wins versus Morehead State, Cal State-Fullerton and Weber State.  The Aggies’ game against Weber State pitted Stew Morrill against former assistant Randy Rahe.  It was the Aggies’ second win over Weber State this season and it earned them the Old Oquirrh Bucket which is awarded for basketball supremacy in the state of Utah each season.  The Aggies finished with a 5-1 record against their in-state rivals with their lone loss coming to BYU.

The Aggies have one final non-conference game versus Western Oregon before heading on the road to start WAC play.  Utah State has three players averaging double-digits in scoring and are led by Tai Wesley who is averaging 14.0 points and 6.8 rebounds per game.  Jared Quayle is averaging 12.0 points and 6.4 rebounds per game while Nate Bendall is averaging 11.3 points and 6.8 rebounds per game.


  • 12/28 – San Jose State vs. UC-Irvine – 7:00 P.M. PT
  • 12/28 – Nevada vs. Portland – 7:00 P.M PT
  • 12/28 – Fresno State vs. Colorado State – 7:00 P.M. PT
  • 12/29 – Louisiana Tech at Houston – 7:00 P.M. CT
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ATB: Weekend Cheers & Jeers

Posted by rtmsf on December 7th, 2009


The sports world may have told us that this was a college football weekend, but we know better, right?


That Kentucky vs. UNC is Meaningful Again.  Now that John Calipari is at Kentucky and his Cats are ranked in the Top 10 with a legitimate shot at postseason glory for the first time in a long while, it’s good to have this game on the early-season schedule.  UK rode a masterful 28-2 run to build an early 19-point lead behind John Wall’s 16/5/7 assts even though he spent much of the game cramping up, and the record crowd of 24k+ at Rupp Arena loved it… until UNC got their young legs settled in the second half, and a late 12-1 run got the Heels within one bucket with 0:33 remaining.  Eric Bledsoe and John Wall made five pressure-filled FTs to close it out 68-66 and UK moved to 8-0 on the season while UNC fell to 7-2.  One thing was clear, though — both of these teams are going to get a lot better before March – can we set a rematch in Indy on Semifinal Saturday four months from now?

Oregon State.  For putting an end to the discussion that was already gurgling (ahem) about the Pac-10 getting swept in the Big 12/Pac-10 Hardwood Series.  The Beavers defeated Colorado 74-69 on Friday night to give the Pac-10 its first win in the Series, and through the weekend games, only Cal’s dominant home victory over Iowa State was the other.  The Big 12 now leads 8-2 in the matchup, and with two games remaining at Pac-10 venues, we’re still not coinvinced that the league will get another win (Oklahoma State @ Stanford & Texas A&M @ Washington).

Reggie Jackson. It didn’t count, but lordy…  Jackson damn near brough the entire world down with this ridiculous dunk (below) at the end of the BC-Miami (FL) game on Sunday.   Still, Jackson dropped 18/9 in a conference opener for both teams that showed both of these teams will be heard from in the ACC this season.  BC dominated the glass 43-19, but it was Jackson’s FTs (not a dunk) with three seconds remaining that gave BC the home win to go to 1-0 in league play.

Dunk to Win.  How about a dunk that did count?  On Saturday afternoon, Ole Miss’ Eniel Polynice broke free for a throwdown right before the buzzer that ended up being the winning margin, 81-79, over Southern Miss.  This was the capper on a wild game that saw the 7-1 Rebels come back from six pts down in the final minute to take the lead and win the game on that dunk.  We’ve yet to find online video of this play but it’s really impressive, so if someone finds it a link to the dunk only, please let us know.  Chris Warren added 20/6 assts for Ole Miss, while Gary Flowers contributed 20/8  for Southern Miss.  Afterwards, USM coach Larry Eustachy found time to throw Mississippi State coach Rick Stansbury under the bus for not playing his team.  Good times.


Gravity.  If you haven’t heard by now, Ohio State superstar Evan Turner took a nasty spill after attempting a dunk in the first few minutes of the Buckeyes’ 111-60 mauling of Eastern Michigan on Saturday afternoon.  He landed on the small of his back and broke two vertebrae which will shelve the early-season leading candidate for NPOY for at least eight weeks.  Ohio State will undoubtedly have trouble recovering from his loss during that time.  For a more detailed description and video of the fall, see our report from Saturday.

A 22-point Half.  You probably missed this on Friday night, but we didn’t.  Pitt and New Hampshire tried their best to set the game back fifty years with a wretched offensive performance during a 15-7 first half.  You read that right.  15-7.  The 22 combined points was the lowest for a half in the shot-clock era, which began in 1985.  It may as well have been 1955, though, as Pitt won 47-32 with the two teams combining for 31% shooting and Pitt in particular getting almost all of its points from two players — 23 from Ashton Gibbs and 19 from Brad Wanamaker.  In fact, the entire Pitt front line contributed a total of three points.  We’re not sure what exactly caused this, guys, but let’s please not let this happen again, ok?

She Looks Different With the Lights On.  Nouveaux-riche WCC powers Portland and San Diego are learning what it’s like to be Gonzaga after all these years.  Just one week after one of the most successful weekends in both schools’ basketball history, the giant red target that was placed squarely on their backs is weighing down both teams.  On Sunday, both teams took blowout losses at the hands of schools that were clearly fired up to get a shot at a team playing with the big boys into their arena.  Portland, the media RTC darling of a week ago,  lost its second straight game to a middie after finishing as the runner-up to West Virginia in the 76 Classic.  Idaho ran out to a 16-pt first-half lead and never looked back, holding Portland to 32% shooting and 6-22 from deep.  Things have been even worse for San Diego since returning as the runner-up in the Great Alaska Shootout.  The Toreros have dropped three straight games, including Friday night’s loss to UC Riverside and a 37-pt  (19% FG) stinker on Sunday at Fresno State (note: Brandon Johnson did miss the game for disciplinary reasons, but SD was still down 38 pts in this one at one time – ugh).  It was Idaho’s first win over a ranked team in 27 years and Fresno’s first win in five tries.  Both of these WCC teams are going to need to right the ship in home games this week (Denver and New Mexico, respectively) or be considered irrelevant by Christmas after such good starts.

Weekend Upsets.

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RTC 2009-10 Impact Players – Southwest Region

Posted by rtmsf on October 30th, 2009


Ed. Note: the previous posts in this series (Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, Atlantic South, Deep South, Mid-South, Lower Midwest, Upper Midwest and Mountains) are located here.

It’s time for the ninth installment of our RTC 2009-10 Impact Players series, the group of hot, dry, desert-y states known as the Southwest Region.   Each week we’ll pick a geographic area of the country and break down the five players who we feel will have the most impact on their teams (and by the transitive property, college basketball) this season.  Our criteria is once again subjective – there are so many good players in every region of the country that it’s difficult to narrow them down to only five  in each – but we feel at the end of this exercise that we’ll have discussed nearly every player of major impact in the nation.  Just to be fair and to make this not too high-major-centric, we’re also going to pick a mid-major impact player in each region as our sixth man.  We welcome you guys, our faithful and very knowledgeable readers, to critique us in the comments where we left players off.  The only request is that you provide an argument – why will your choice be more influential this season than those we chose?

Southwest Region (NM, AZ, NV, HI, southern CA)


  • Rihards Kuksiks – F, Jr – Arizona State. Advice to Pac-10 coaches writing up their scouting reports for when they go up against Arizona State this season: when Rihards Kuksiks enters the building, get a man on him. Don’t bother waiting until the game actually starts. You don’t want him getting comfortable, because he’s the kind of shooter who can change a game just that quickly. The guy can touch the ball a few times and the next thing you know you’re down nine before the first TV timeout. Or you get a little comfortable with your late-game lead and after Kuksiks gets a couple of touches the lead is gone and you’re wondering how time can tick so slowly. You want numbers? Fine. Kuksiks is third in terms of returning individual leaders in 3-point field goal percentage (44.3%) in the country among players who hit at least two threes a game and finished 8th in that category last year. A recent article on by Jeff Goodman reveals some other incredible stats: in games decided by 2 points or less, Kuksiks shot 47% from behind the 3-point line; against ranked opponents he shot 46% from beyond the arc, and in the loss to Syracuse in the NCAA Tournament’s second round last year, he put up his career high in points with 20, with 18 of those coming from long range. In other words, the man steps up during big games. If the numbers don’t interest you, then consider the fact that many of these threes are not from a hair behind the line. They are often from distance. And they are often clutch (ask Arizona about a couple of late ones he nailed in that February game last year). Most importantly, watch the form. It should be an instructional video. He gets good height on his jumper but doesn’t overdo it, and you can see how he gets his legs into the shot. He releases the ball out in front just a little bit, but then the follow-through is a perfect example of that “reach into the cookie jar” that basketball coaches start teaching kids from the moment they can lift a basketball. By the way, he’s 6’6 and more than happy to mix it up in the paint, if needed. My favorite bit about Kuksiks comes from an interview he did for a site called in which he was asked what kind of player he was. The first words out of his mouth? “I am a sharpshooter.”  This is confidence, not cockiness, from the big man from Riga, Latvia. But I think it’s just fine if there actually is a little cockiness there. Long-range shooters are like neurosurgeons. They’re often asked to do the most difficult things in their field…and if I get to the point where I need to depend on one, I want them a little bit cocky.

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2009-10 Conference Primers: #12 – WAC

Posted by rtmsf on October 26th, 2009


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

Travis’ Predicted Order of Finish:

  1. Idaho (11-5)
  2. Utah State (11-5)
  3. New Mexico State (10-6)
  4. Nevada (10-6)
  5. Louisiana Tech (8-8)
  6. Fresno State  (7-9)
  7. Boise State  (6-10)
  8. San Jose State  (5-11)
  9. Hawaii  (4-12)

Sam’s Predicted Order of Finish:

  1. New Mexico State (13-3)
  2. Utah State (12-4)
  3. Nevada  (11-5)
  4. Idaho (11-5)
  5. Louisiana Tech  (9-7)
  6. Fresno State  (6-10)
  7. Boise State  (5-11)
  8. San Jose State  (3-13)
  9. Hawaii  (2-14)

All-Conference Team:

  • Mac Hopson (G), Idaho
  • Jahmar Young (G), New Mexico State
  • Luke Babbitt (F), Nevada
  • Sylvester Seay (F), Fresno State
  • Magnum Rolle (C), Louisiana Tech

6th Man. Kyle Gibson (G), Louisiana Tech

Impact Newcomer. Steffan Johnson (G), Idaho

wac logoWhat You Need to Know. Once a solid multi-bid league, the WAC has struggled to gain national traction in recent years but appears poised to send multiple teams to the Big Dance after graduating just eight starting seniors in the entire league after last season. Five of the nine WAC teams return at least four starters and New Mexico State returns all five starters. The league also returns 14 of the 15 top scorers this season.

Travis’ Predicted Champion. Idaho (NCAA #12) — one and done.  The Vandals have a storied tradition in college hoops — in the early 1980s, Idaho dominated the Big Sky under legendary coach Don Monson, leading an unlikely charge to the 1982 Sweet 16. But that remains the high-water mark for Idaho basketball. In the first three seasons after joining the Western Athletic Conference in 2005, the Vandals were a perennial bottom-feeder.

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RTC Live: WAC Tournament

Posted by rtmsf on March 11th, 2009


3/14 Update.  Crazy night in Reno last night – here’s our wrapup on the semis, and whatever you do, don’t offer the mascot $100 to attack the other mascot.  Stay safe out there, Nevadans!  Should be a great environment there tonight.

3/13 Update: here’s the live-blog for tonight’s WAC semifinal between Utah St. and New Mexico St., with the second semifinal between Louisiana Tech and the homestanding Nevada following it.

Hello WAC fans, and welcome to RTC Live’s ongoing coverage of the WAC Tournament from Reno, Nevada.  We have been fortunate to partner with Travis Mason-Bushman from Vandal Nation, who will be live-blogging and reporting from the Lawlor Events Center throughout the weekend.  The Tournament began last night with a single opening round game (Fresno St. defeated Hawaii), but the quarterfinals will begin in earnest on Thursday afternoon.  For additional information on this tournament, be sure to check out the comprehensive WAC Tournament preview put together by our regular WAC correspondents, Kevin McCarthy and Sam Wasson.

Travis will be live-blogging select games throughout the weekend, starting tomorrow with the quarterfinal matchup between #1 seed Utah St. and #9 seed Fresno St.   This has the potential to be an atypical high/low seed game, as Fresno took the slumping Aggies to overtime in a regular season meeting.  If you’re new to the site, the live-blog box will show immediately below this paragraph, and Travis will be taking comments and questions throughout the game.  Particularly insightful questions will be chosen for him to take into the media press conference and/or locker rooms afterwards.  Enjoy the WAC Tournament, and check back here daily to see which games we’ll be live-blogging next.

And be sure to check out the Idaho vs. Louisiana Tech game tonight, live-blogged below.

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WAC Wrapup & Tourney Preview

Posted by rtmsf on March 10th, 2009

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

A WACky regular season came to an end on Saturday night and after the dust settled the seedings were finally set. Heading into last week’s games just two of the nine seeds were cemented in place, the 1-seed (Utah State) and the 9-seed (Fresno State). The final seeds look like this 1) Utah State, 2) Nevada, 3) Idaho, 4) Boise State, 5) New Mexico State, 6) Louisiana Tech, 7) San Jose State, 8) Hawai’i, 9) Fresno State.


Tuesday night sees the two last place teams battle it out for the honor of facing top seed Utah State on Thursday in the quarterfinals.On Thursday the remaining eight teams will be whittled down to four.

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