Sam Wasson of bleedCRIMSON.net and Travis Mason-Bushman of Vandal Nation are the RTC correspondents for the Western Athletic Conference.
At the halfway point of the conference race, Louisiana Tech continues to lead, posting a 6-1 record. A showdown between Louisiana Tech and New Mexico State looms large on Saturday. A victory by the Aggies could thrust the league into a three-way tie for first if Utah State is able to defeat a suddenly surging San Jose State squad. Utah State remains hot as they’ve gone from last place after the first weekend to a tie for second place at the midway point. Meanwhile the race to stay out of the WAC basement is currently a three-team battle between Boise State, Idaho and Hawai’i. The Broncos are currently the odd team out but notched an important victory over in-state rival Idaho earlier in the week in the first of two meetings between the schools.
1) Louisiana Tech, 18-3 (6-1)
T2) New Mexico State, 12-8 (5-2)
T2) Utah State, 14-6 (5-2)
4) San Jose State 12-8 (5-3)
5) Nevada 12-8 (4-3)
6) Fresno State, 11-11 (4-4)
T7) Idaho, 9-10 (2-6)
T7) Hawai’i, 9-12 (2-6)
9) Boise State, 10-11 (1-7)
At the midway point there are several excellent candidates for Midseason Player of the Year. Instead of choosing a midseason POY and angering eight other fanbases in the process, we instead submit the Top 10 scorers and rebounders in the league (conference games only). Surprisingly, Utah State, tied for second place and certainly the league’s hottest team, has no player in the Top 10 in either scoring or rebounding.
Leading Scorers (Conference Games Only):
1. Adrian Oliver, SJSU – 25.1 PPG
2. Luke Babbitt, NEV – 24.7 PPG
3. Jahmar Young, NMSU – 22.9 PPG
4. Kyle Gibson, LT – 21.6 PPG
5. Jonathan Gibson, NMSU – 19.9 PPG
6. Paul George, FS – 17.7 PPG* (Injured, expected to be out 2-3 weeks)
7. Mac Hopson, ID – 17.5 PPG
8. Sylvester Seay, FS – 15.9 PPG
9. Magnum Rolle, LT – 15.4 PPG
10. Brandon Fields, NEV – 15.3 PPG
Leading Rebounders (Conference Games Only):
1. Luke Babbitt, NEV – 10.7 RPG
2. Magnum Rolle, LT – 10.3 RPG
3. Wendell McKines, NMSU – 10.0 RPG
4. Chris Oakes, SJSU – 9.4 RPG
5. Ike Okoye, BSU – 8.8 RPG
6. Hamidu Rahman, NMSU – 8.3 RPG
7. Dario Hunt, NEV – 7.3 RPG
8. Brandon Adams, UH – 7.0 RPG TIED WITH Olu Asaolu, LTU – 7.0 RPG
9. Greg Smith, FS – 6.9 RPG
Boise State (10-11, 1-7)
The week’s results: 01/25 W @ Idaho, 77-67 (OT)
Upcoming games: 01/30 vs. Fresno State
The Broncos finally notched a conference win, and it was a big one. Boise State traveled to Moscow, ID to face their in-state rival Idaho and the Broncos stunned the home team. Anthony Thomas hit a contested three pointer as time expired to send the game to overtime where they dominated the extra period. Boise State’s win saw them rally from a nine point second half deficit, and the win keeps the Broncos just one game behind Hawai’i and Idaho as they try to avoid missing the conference tournament. Up next for the Broncos is a game against an up and down Fresno State squad who is playing without their leading scorer, Paul George.
Fresno State (11-11, 4-4)
The week’s results: 01/23 W vs. Nevada, 87-77; 01/28 L @ Idaho, 74-59
Upcoming games: 01-30 @ Boise State
The Bulldogs split a pair of games this week, but it was not what anyone expected. The Bulldogs lost their leading scorer, Paul George, last week in the first half against Utah State and were soundly beaten by the Aggies. Just two nights later, the Bulldogs hosted Nevada in what was sure to be another sound beating. However, the Bulldogs rose up and stunned the visiting Wolf Pack, 87-77, behind a big night from Greg Smith (25 points, 11 rebounds, 5 assists). Unfortunately for the Bulldogs, they came crashing back down to earth when they traveled to Idaho. The Bulldogs were beaten badly by the Vandals, losing 74-59. The Bulldogs trailed by just two at halftime a 6-0 run by the Vandals to start the half put the Bulldogs in a hole of which they couldn’t dig out. Up next for the Bulldogs is a trip to Boise, ID to face the Broncos.
Hawaii (9-12, 2-6)
The week’s results: 01/24 L vs Louisiana Tech, 65-60; 01/28 L @ San Jose State, 83-60
Upcoming games: 01/30 @ Nevada
The Warriors have lost three in a row and now sit tied with Idaho in seventh place in the league. The Warriors hung tough with league leader Louisiana Tech in a home game, falling 65-60. The Warriors were down just two with 34 seconds to play but could get no closer. A rematch against San Jose State gave the Warriors their third straight loss after beating San Jose State 66-65 in overtime in Honolulu. The Warriors led just once at 7-6, but could not stop the Spartans. Things don’t get any easier for the Warriors as they travel to Reno to take on Nevada.
Idaho (9-10, 2-7)
The week’s results: 01/23 L vs. Utah State, 60-48; 01/25 L vs. Boise State, 77-67 (OT); 01/28 W vs. Fresno State, 74-59
Upcoming games: 01/30 @ Seattle; 02/03 @ Utah State
The Vandals snapped a six game losing streak with a victory over shorthanded Fresno State, winning handily, 74-59. The victory helped erase the pain of giving up a nine point lead late in the game against in-state rival Boise State and a hard fought 60-48 loss to Utah State. The Vandals’ victory over Fresno State was an important win in the league race as they moved into a tie with Hawai’i for 7th place in the league and strengthened their hopes of making the conference tournament. Idaho steps out of conference play with a game at Seattle before heading back to Logan, UT to face the USU Aggies.
Louisiana Tech (18-3, 6-1)
The week’s results: 01/24 W @ Hawai’i, 65-60
Upcoming games: 01/30 vs. New Mexico State; 02/04 vs. San Jose State
The Bulldogs continue to lead the WAC race as they picked up a victory over Hawai’i, 65-60. Magnum Rolle scored 23 points and grabbed a career-high 17 rebounds. Kyle Gibson scored 19 points and Jamel Guyton recorded his first career double-double with 14 points and 11 rebounds. The Bulldogs host the New Mexico State Aggies as they attempt to stay in solo first place in the league standings. Following their date with the Aggies, the suddenly hot San Jose State Spartans come to town.
Nevada (12-8, 4-3)
The week’s results: 01/23 L @ Fresno State, 87-77
Upcoming games: 01/30 vs. Hawai’i
The Wolf Pack were stunned by a short-handed Fresno State squad and they missed a golden opportunity to move into a tie for second place with New Mexico State and Utah State. Luke Babbitt scored 29 points and grabbed 10 rebounds in the loss. The Wolf Pack will try to rebound when they host Hawai’i.
New Mexico State (12-8, 5-2)
The week’s results: 01/23 L @ San Jose State, 93-84
Upcoming games: 01/30 @ Louisiana Tech
The Aggies had their four game win streak snapped by San Jose State as the two teams had a shootout. Jahmar Young scored a career-high 34 points in the loss and the Aggies dropped into a tie for second place with Utah State. The Aggies finish up a three game road trip with a trip to Ruston, LA to take on league-leading Louisiana Tech.
San Jose State (12-8, 5-3)
The week’s results: 01/23 W vs. New Mexico State, 93-84; 01/28 W vs. Hawai’i, 83-60
Upcoming games: 01/30 @ Utah State; 02/04 @ Louisiana Tech
The Spartans knocked off New Mexico State in a shootout and then exacted revenge for a last-second loss at Hawai’i. The Spartans have won three in a row (and four out of five) but their hot streak will get a stiff test as they face Utah State in Logan, and then Louisiana Tech in Ruston. Adrian Oliver was named the WAC Player of the Week for his 39-point performance against Louisiana Tech, and 22-point performance against New Mexico State. He added a 31-point performance against Hawai’i.
Utah State (15-6, 5-2)
The week’s results: 01/23 W @ Idaho, 60-48
Upcoming games: 01/30 vs. San Jose State; 02/03 vs. Idaho
The Aggies continued their strong run with a victory over Idaho in Moscow. The game pitted teacher versus student at Stew Morrill’s Aggies took down Don Verlin’s Vandals. The win by Utah State was Morrill’s 500th career victory. The Aggies host a hot San Jose State team and then get a rematch at home against Idaho.
* 01/30 – Utah State vs. San Jose State – 7:00 p.m. MT (CW30-Utah)
* 01/30 – Seattle vs. Idaho – 7:10 p.m. PT
* 01/30 – Nevada vs. Hawai’i – 7:00 p.m. PT (ESPNU)
* 01/30 – Boise State vs. Fresno State – 8:15 p.m. MT (Bulldog Sports Network)
* 01/30 – Louisiana Tech vs. New Mexico State – 8:00 p.m. CT
* 02/03 – Utah State vs. Idaho – 9:00 p.m. MT (ESPN2)
* 02/04 – Louisiana Tech vs. San Jose State – 7:00 p.m. CT (ESPN Regional)