Checking In On… the WAC

Posted by Brian Goodman on January 5th, 2012

Kevin McCarthy of Parsing The WAC and Sam Wasson of bleedCrimson.net are the RTC correspondents for the WAC.  You can follow Sam on Twitter @AgsBleedCrimson.

Reader’s Take

 

Looking Back

  • The WAC finished off non-conference play with a few near-misses. Utah State lost by two, 66-64, at Mississippi State, Hawai’i was unable to overtake UNLV, falling 74-69, Idaho came up just short against Boise State, 76-73, but Fresno State extracted some revenge for the conference, shellacking the Broncos 72-59 in Fresno.
  • Meanwhile New Mexico State needed a miracle to overcome Cal State-Bakersfield 73-72. In the game, NMSU lived out a “Butler over Pitt” scenario, giving up a go-ahead free throw with 2.4 seconds to go, but got fouled on the ensuing possession with 0.9 seconds left and hit a pair of free throws to escape with a win. The WAC heads into conference play as the 16th-best conference as rated by the RPI and a 56-50 record in the non-conference.

Utah State Fell By Just Two To An Improved Mississippi State Squad, But Enters WAC Play With Confidence. (Rogelio V. Solis/AP)

Power Rankings

  1. Nevada (10-3): The preseason pick to win the WAC heads into league play with the best record in the non-conference portion of play but has not played since December 28. The Wolf Pack open up league play on the road at Idaho and Utah State and a pair of victories to open league play there would definitely put them in the early driver’s seat. Why they won’t win the WAC: Lack of depth. The starters for Nevada score 82.8 percent of their points (56.4 of 68.1). Conference play is a grind and the Wolf Pack starters may eventually succumb to the wear and tear of the pressure of having to produce night in and night out with no scoring help from the bench. Read the rest of this entry »
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Checking in on… the WAC

Posted by Brian Goodman on February 3rd, 2011

Sam Wasson, Co-Founder and Editor of bleedCrimson.net covering New Mexico State athletics, and Kevin McCarthy, Founder of Parsing The WAC, are the RTC correspondents for the WAC.

A Look Back

Utah State all but locked up the regular season title this past week as they swept their road trip to San Jose and Honolulu, then downed Nevada at home.  The trip wasn’t easy, as they were once again pushed to the brink by the Warriors, but they pulled out an 89-84 double-overtime victory and with two losses by Idaho and Boise State, the UtAgs have a healthy three-game lead over the rest of the field with New Mexico State three games behind in the loss column with just seven conference games remaining.  New Mexico State made the biggest jump of the week as they effectively went from fifth place (after tiebreakers) to solo second place with a home sweep of Boise State (96-87 OT) and Idaho (73-65).  The southern Aggies should send their eastern neighbors, Louisiana Tech, a “Thank You” card as the Bulldogs pulled out of a seven-game nosedive to stun Idaho (71-56) and Boise State (70-60).  Nevada sits a half-game behind NM State after avenging a conference loss to Fresno State.  Just past the midway point of conference play, the top of the standings look strangely familiar as Utah State, New Mexico State and Nevada inhabit the top three spots, just as they have during the past five seasons.

R-E-S-P-E-C-T: With 14 of the Top 25 teams losing last week, Utah State did itself a favor by winning both road games.  Even though it wasn’t easy, the UtAgs climbed #21 in the Coaches Poll and #22 in the AP Poll.

Bracketbusters: Utah State and St. Mary’s will battle in the lone ESPNU Bracketbusters televised game involving a WAC team.  Their battle will take place at 9:00 p.m. on Saturday of Bracketbusters Weekend on ESPN2.  The UtAgs are the lone ranked team in the Bracketbusters field, with St. Mary’s being one of the 14 Top 25 teams that were victimized.

The remaining eight WAC teams will play on Saturday, February 19, in non-televised Bracketbusters matchups.

  • Boise State at UC Santa Barbara
  • Hawai‘i at UC Davis
  • Idaho at Montana State
  • UC Riverside at Fresno State
  • Georgia State at Louisiana Tech
  • UC Irvine at Nevada
  • Northern Colorado at New Mexico State
  • Weber State at San Jose State

Player of the Week: Utah State’s Brian Green was named the Player of the Week after scoring a career-high 25 points and tied his career high with six rebounds, finishing 8-9 from the field, 5-5 from three-point range and 4-4 at the free throw line against San Jose State. Green also tied a school record for shooting percentage from three in the game, which is remarkable, considering Utah State produced prolific three-point shooter Jaycee Carroll. Against Hawai‘i, Green posted 22 points, three rebounds and three assists. Green hit a pair of game-tying shots as he tied it at 66 to send the game to overtime on a long two-pointer, and then hit a 30-footer late in the first overtime to tie the game at 73, sending the teams into the second extra period. Green then sank four straight free throws in the final six seconds of the second overtime to seal the UtAgs’ victory.  In the two games Green averaged 23.5 points, 4.5 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 1.0 steals per game. He shot 68.2 percent (15-22) from the field, 68.2 percent (8-13) from beyond the arc and 90 percent (9-10) from the free throw line.

Power Rankings

1. Utah State (21-2, 10-0)

Up Next: 02/05 vs. Boise State

We mentioned last week that the trip to the islands could spell an upset for the UtAgs and it nearly did.  Utah State escaped the island of O’ahu thanks to the heroics of Player of the Week Brian Green.  The Broncos handled Nevada with ease at the Spectrum on Wednesday night in an ESPN2 showdown, and Boise State comes knocking on Saturday.  The Aggies have now won 16 consecutive games, which is the third-longest active win streak in the country behind only Ohio State (22) and Coastal Carolina (18). For those college basketball fans who didn’t stay up for Wednesday’s game or are otherwise unfamiliar with the atmosphere at the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum in Logan, it is one of the toughest in college basketball and the student section is second to none, as can be seen in the videos below.

2. New Mexico State (12-11, 6-3)

Up Next: 02/03 at Fresno State, 02/07 vs. Louisiana Tech

The roller coaster ride continues for the Aggies, who jumped from fifth place to second with a pair of home victories last week against Boise State (in overtime) and Idaho.  New Mexico State rallied from deficits in both games.  Against Boise State the Aggies shot 47 free throws and did not miss a shot in overtime, going 5-5 from the floor and 13-13 from the free throw line while scoring an astounding 23 points in the five extra minutes.  Against Idaho, hometown senior Gordo Castillo notched a game-high 19 points and hit three crucial three pointers down the stretch in the second half.  The Aggies hit the road to take on struggling Fresno State and then return home to face a suddenly rejuvenated Louisiana Tech squad.

3. Nevada (8-14, 5-4)

Up Next: 02/05 vs. San Jose State

Nevada once again had some difficulty with Fresno State but unlike the first meeting, the young Wolf Pack were able to close out the game.  Dario Hunt put on a clinic, finishing 9-11 from the field with 24 points and 11 rebounds.  Freshman point guard Deonte Burton continues to light up the scoreboard, with a 17-point outings.  The Pack couldn’t avenge an earlier defeat in Reno, falling 67-45 on national television.  The Wolf Pack led the first meeting by ten points with 14 minutes left to play, but could not seal the deal.  Nevada now has a few days to lick its wounds before hosting San Jose State on Saturday.

4. Boise State (12-9, 5-4)

Up Next: 01/27 at New Mexico State, 01/29 at Louisiana Tech

Boise State lost another barnburner against New Mexico State falling 96-87 in overtime.  A 3-20 performance from three-point distance spelled doom for the Broncos.  Perhaps suffering a bit of a hangover from the loss in the desert, Boise State dropped their second straight conference game, falling to Louisiana Tech 70-60.  The Broncos shot just 3-17 from three in that game and for the road trip shot just 6-37 (16.2 percent).  Boise State hosts Hawai’i and then travels to Logan to take on league-leader Utah State.

5. Idaho (12-9, 5-4)

Up Next: 02/03 vs. San Jose State, 02/05 vs. Hawai’i

After a disastrous road trip that saw them give up the first league victory to Louisiana Tech and lose to New Mexico State (losing the season series in the process), the Vandals return home where they’ll try to regroup against San Jose State and Hawai’i.  A home sweep could put them into the coveted top four as in-state rival Boise State must take on Utah State this week.

6. Hawai’i (12-9, 3-6)

Up Next: 02/03 at Boise State, 02/05 at Idaho

A pair of homecourt victories against Fresno State and San Jose State led to a packed house and major enthusiasm versus visiting league power Utah State. The Rainbow Warriors played tough, losing 89-84 in two overtimes. Bill Amis has been a double-double machine, posting 15 and 12 against USU. Guard/wing Zane Johnson has been in-and-out offensively but nailed six treys in seven attempts versus the Aggies.  Next comes a road trip to the land of Famous Potatoes and matchups against Boise State and Idaho. Can UH maintain the momentum on foreign courts where they sport just a 1-3 record in conference play?

7. Louisiana Tech (11-12, 2-7)

Up Next: 02/05 at Fresno State (ESPNU), 02/07 at New Mexico State

A brief reprieve from the WAC power rankings basement for the league’s eastern Bulldogs as they stunned both Idaho schools last week winning by 15 over Idaho and by 10 over Boise State.  Olu Ashaolu had a monstrous game against the Vandals with 24 points and 18 rebounds in 37 minutes.  He also had three assists, two steals and a block.  Ashaolu followed that up with a 15-point, ten-rebound performance against the Broncos.  Kenyon McNeaill scored 21 points against Idaho and followed it up with 10 against Boise State.  The Bulldogs will look to continue their newfound momentum as they head back out on the road for the Battle of the Bone Part II against Fresno State and then to Las Cruces to take on second place New Mexico State.

8. San Jose State (10-10, 2-7)

Up Next: 02/03 at Idaho, 02/05 at Nevada

A 67-61 loss in Hawaii was followed by an 84-65 L against visiting Utah State. However, the Spartans turned it around versus Fresno State, powered by Adrian Oliver‘s 28 points, 11 boards and eight assists. The Spartans buried 10-of-18 three-point attempts versus the Bulldogs.  Justin Graham missed the Utah State game with ankle difficulties but returned in the win over Fresno State. Former starting center Brylle Kamen is still suspended indefinitely.  Roadin’ it to Idaho followed by Nevada are the next contests.

8. Fresno State (8-12, 3-6)

Up Next: 01/20 at Hawai’i, 01/24 vs. Seattle

Coming off four consecutive WAC losses (and a trio of league victories prior to that), the Bulldogs hosted Seattle and downed the Redhawks 86-56. Then, it was back to WAC action. A trip to Nevada produced a 79-76 loss and tripping to San Jose State became a 78-60 L.  Rx: Greg Smith needs a pair of other point producers, preferably from middle distance and longer, in order to produce the space in which he can maneuver inside. But that hasn’t been occurring. Smith placed third in the number of shot taken on his team versus the Spartans. Junior wing Tim Steed has enjoyed some high-scoring games but dipped a bit in the last two. Freshman backcourter Kevin Olekaibe poured in 29 points against SJSU but is up-and-down. Steven Shepp possesses a 32/10 assist-to-turnover ration and is excellent on the break, but his shooting percentages are mired around 25%. Coach Cleveland needs to land another solid big … and keep Smith from turning pro.  Hosting New Mexico State and then Louisiana Tech come up next.

A Look Ahead

Boise State invades Logan this weekend to try to slow Utah State’s momentum, but after the big win over Nevada, it’s tough to picture any WAC team coming to Logan and escaping with a win. The race for the 2-4 spots in the conference is heating up with four teams fighting for three spots and all are within a game of each other in the loss column.  The same can be said for the bottom half of the league as four teams battle for three spots and all four are within a game of each other.

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Checking in on… the WAC

Posted by Brian Goodman on December 30th, 2010

Sam Wasson, Co-Founder and Editor of bleedCrimson.net covering New Mexico State athletics, and Kevin McCarthy, Founder of Parsing The WAC, are the RTC correspondents for the WAC.

A Look Back

The WAC finished up non-conference play and no team did better than the Hawai’i in closing out its non-conference season.  Playing shorthanded, the Warriors hung tough with the ACC’s Florida State and then picked up wins over Utah (just its tenth in 57 tries) and a short-handed Mississippi State team from the SEC (playing without Renardo Sidney and Elgin Bailey).  New Mexico State lost by 20 to St. Mary’s and Nevada lost by 30 at Washington and by four at Portland while Boise State also lost by nine at Portland.

Player of the Week: San Jose State’s Adrian Oliver was named the Player of the Week for the week of Dec. 20-26.  Oliver scored a career-high 42 points in just 25 minutes of play in a 95-62 win over Puget Sound. The 42 points broke the 30-year old San Jose State single-game scoring record of 40 points. Oliver also broke the SJSU single-game mark for the most points in a half with 30, besting his own mark of 25 which he set last season. He also set a San Jose State record for most consecutive three-point baskets made in a game with seven and tied the school record for most threes made in a single game.  Oliver out-scored Puget Sound by himself in the first half of the contest, 30-29.  In the game, Oliver tallied 42 points on 12-of-15 (80 percent) shooting from the field. He hit 7-of-9 (77.8 percent) shots from three-point range and was 11-of-13 (84.6 percent) from the free throw line. He also recorded three rebounds, four assists, one block and one steal.

Top 10 Scorers Heading Into Conference Play:

  1. Adrian Oliver (SJSU) – 25.8 PPG
  2. Robert Arnold (BSU) – 16.2 PPG
  3. DeAndre Brown (LTU) – 16.1 PPG
  4. Justin Graham (SJSU) – 16.1 PPG
  5. Olu Ashaolu (LTU) – 15.4 PPG
  6. Zane Johnson (UH) – 14.4 PPG
  7. Tai Wesley (USU) – 13.8 PPG
  8. La’Shard Anderson (BSU) – 13.5 PPG
  9. Malik Story (NEV) – 13.3 PPG
  10. Dario Hunt (NEV) – 13.1 PPG

Top 10 Rebounders Heading Into Conference Play:

  1. Dario Hunt (NEV) – 10.2 RPG
  2. Olu Ashaolu (LTU) – 9.1
  3. Brady Jardine (USU) – 8.6
  4. Tai Wesley (USU) – 8.3
  5. Wil Carter (SJSU) – 7.9
  6. Joaquim Vander (UH) – 7.1
  7. Shawn Henderson (UI) – 6.4
  8. Matt Ballard (SJSU) – 6.2
  9. Brandon Wiley (UI) – 6.0
  10. Greg Smith (FSU) – 6.0

Power Rankings

1. Utah State (11-2)

Up Next: 12/29 vs. Hawai’i, 12/31 vs. San Jose State

Utah State heads into conference play as the only WAC team in the RPI Top 100 (56th) but has dropped over 20 spots in the last two weeks despite not losing any games.  Utah State sports the league’s best record at 11-2, however, they haven’t exactly played a murderer’s row schedule-wise.  Believe it or not, their best win (based on RPI) is a win over 4-8 Long Beach State and four of their last five victories have come against teams with RPIs higher than 230 including last week’s pastings of Western Michigan and Troy.  The UtAgs open up conference play at home versus a resurgent Hawai’i squad on Wednesday night and then host San Jose State, also a team playing well, on Friday night.  Tai Wesley is one of just three WAC players currently in the Top 10 in both scoring and rebounding in the league.

2. Hawai’i (7-2)

Up Next: 12/29 at Utah State, 12/31 at Nevada

Home cooking has aided the sparkling record (8-1 in games in the islands) but regardless, nobody expected such a record, especially early on with a mostly brand new team.  The Warriors head into conference play as one of the hotter teams in the league with solid wins over Utah and Mississippi State in the very competitive Diamond Head Classic (won by Butler).  Forward Bill Amis remains sidelined but seemingly should be back soon and guard Hiram Thompson is also hurting but still playing major minutes and performing effectively. Counting Amis, Gib Arnold‘s squad has five players scoring in double figures and boasting a 45% overall shooting percentage, plus 40% on three-pointers — this is not last year’s UH roster. Hawaii is also holding opponents to 37% shooting. But 213 turnovers in 12 games needs roundball liposuction.  UH opens up at Utah State and at Nevada so we’ll know very quickly how much momentum they generated from their 5th place showing at the Diamond Head Classic.

3. Louisiana Tech (9-5)

Up Next: 12/29 at Boise State, 12/31 at Idaho

Louisiana Tech, 8-5 against Division I teams, their best win is against 6-5 Houston (RPI 216).  They’ve played one game against a team with an RPI in the Top 100 and that was against Texas (10-2, RPI 26) to start the season.  The Bulldogs have two players in the Top 10 in the league in scoring, DeAndre Brown (3rd) and Olu Ashaolu (5th) and two of the Top 12 rebounders in the league, Olu Ashaolu (2nd) and Brandon Gibson (12th).  The Bulldogs are 3rd in the league in scoring averaging 71.3 points per game and they are third in the league in field goal percentage defense with opponents hitting 41.4 percent of their shots.  The Bulldogs open up conference play at Boise State and at Idaho.

4. San Jose State (8-3)

Up Next: 12/29 at Fresno State, 12/31 at Utah State

The split for the Spartans is 4-1 at home and 4-2 roadin’ it, the best away record in the league so far.  SJSU leads the conference in scoring offense (yes, pick yourself up off the floor) at 75.9 points per game and star backcourter Adrian Oliver is coming off a 42 point performance. It a backcourt-led team with Justin Graham averaging 16.1 points a game on 51% overall shooting and 58% with his 33 trey attempts. But frontcourters Wil Carter and Matt Ballard must do better than 37% and 24% shooting respectively or such deficiencies may prove harmful especially when matched up against the bigs of Utah State and New Mexico State.  SJSU meets Fresno State in Fresno on Wednesday and then heads to Logan for a New Year’s Eve matchup with Utah State on Friday.

5. Boise State (7-5)

Up Next: 12/29 vs. Louisiana Tech, 12/31 vs. New Mexico State

The Broncos dropped their final non-conference game of the season at Portland but head into conference play with a chance to make an early statement with home games versus Louisiana Tech and New Mexico State.  The Broncos are one of the four surprise teams in the league thus far.  While their record is just 6-5 and they’ve lost five of their last six games, first year head coach Leon Rice has them playing competitive ball.  They lost by just three against UNLV (11-2, RPI 13) in Vegas and by nine at Portland (10-3, RPI 36).  The Broncos are the league’s second best scoring team (74.9 PPG) and the third best scoring defense team (64.0 PPG).

6. Idaho (6-5)

Up Next: 12/29 vs. New Mexico State, 12/31 vs. Louisiana Tech

Idaho looks to get off to a good start in conference play against the outpost schools, New Mexico State and LA Tech.  Idaho head into league play as the lowest scoring team in the league averaging just 64.4 points per game but are second in the league in assists per game (13.4) and are the second best three point shooting team in the league (38.5 percent).  The Vandals are allowing just 66.0 points per game.  Not surprisingly the Vandals do not have a player in the Top 15 in scoring, however, they have three of the top 15 rebounders in the league in Shawn Henderson (7th), Brandon Wiley (9th) and Luiz Toldeo (15th).

7. New Mexico State (6-8)

Up Next: 12/29 at Idaho, 12/31 at Boise State

The Aggies’ struggles have come because of a spate of injuries that at one point had wiped out four of their five projected starters, Troy Gillenwater, Hamidu Rahman, Gordo Castillo and Wendell McKines.  Castillo is back on the court but McKines has not played all season due to the broken foot, Gillenwater has not played since the first half of the New Mexico game in Albuquerque on December 11th and Rahman has not played since the December 13th game against Arkansas-Pine Bluff.  The Aggies have played eight games against teams in the Top 125 RPI but have lost all eight.  The four wins have come against Louisiana twice (1-8, RPI 309), Arkansas-Pine Bluff (0-11, RPI 279) and Pacific (5-5, RPI 126).  Head Coach Marvin Menzies believes that two of the remaining three players who are out with injury could see action in the next couple of games.  Under Menzies, the Aggies have tied for the regular season title (’07/’08), reached the conference tournament semifinals (’08/’09) and won the conference tournament (’09/’10) in his first three seasons and has led the Aggies to a 32-16 record in conference play.  The Aggies have just one player in the Top 15 in scoring, Christian Kabongo (11.5 PPG, 13th) and just one Top 15 rebounder, Tyrone Watson (5.6 RPG, 11th).  The Aggies open up on the road making the Idaho swing first in Moscow then to Boise.

8. Fresno State (4-6)

Up Next: 12/29 vs. San Jose State, 01/03 vs. Nevada

The Bulldogs are actually in the positive at home with a 3-2 record but the road hasn’t been so hospitable at 1-4. Taking heed of the admonition that a child shall lead them, frosh backcourter Kevin Olekaibe tops the squad in scoring at 10.7 a contest. The Greg Smith Funk remains ongoing as he is mired at 9.7 points per game along with 6.3 boards each time out. Point guard Steven Shepp just returned from academic exile and should help with the assist-to-turnover ratio. Believe it or not, Steve Cleveland‘s team lacks a familiar name in the top 15 point producers in the WAC, indicating just how much Paul George and to a lesser extent Sylvester Seay are missed offensively.  League play commences with San Jose State coming to town on Wednesday, followed by Nevada on Monday.

9. Nevada (3-10)

Up Next: 12/31 vs. Hawai’i, 01/03 at Fresno State

Nevada’s struggles have come because they lost 83 percent of their scoring through the NBA Draft and graduation.  They have really struggled to find consistency and their two Division I wins have come against Montana (6-4, RPI 140) and Portland State (6-5, RPI 247).  Nevada opens up conference play versus resurgent Hawai’i and then heads to Fresno to take on Fresno State.

A Look Ahead

The league did not look good in non-conference play so the WAC will revert back to a one-bid league.  It’s the swan song for Boise State as it completes its farewell tour in the WAC before jumping to the Mountain West next season.  Everyone is 0-0 starting tonight and with the change in format to the conference tournament, finishing in the top four in the league assures playing no more than three games in three days (just two games if you’re the first or second place finisher) whereas a bottom four finish means a trip to the Big Dance will require winning a four-game in four days gauntlet.

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Checking in on… the WAC

Posted by jstevrtc on January 16th, 2010

Sam Wasson of bleedCrimson.net 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.

Current Standings:

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

After the first two weekends of play there has been some significant shifting among the top and bottom.  Louisiana Tech continues to lead the league race starting out 5-0 while on the opposite end of the spectrum, Boise State is really behind the eight ball after losing their first five games of conference play.  With this year’s tournament no longer having a play-in game between the 8th and 9th place teams, the Broncos will be fighting for their postseason lives the rest of the way.

Boise State (9-9, 0-5)

The week’s results:

  • 01/09 L vs. New Mexico State, 88-85
  • 01/11 L vs. Louisiana Tech, 79-64
  • 01/14 L @ San Jose State, 76-74

Upcoming games:

  • 01/16 @ Utah State
  • 01/20 vs. Nevada

Disaster.  After entering league play at 9-4 the Broncos are on a five game skid and, even though it’s only a quarter way through the league schedule, they have to be in a bit of a panic mode.  Only the top eight teams in the league will participate in the WAC tournament this season as the league has gotten rid of the play-in game between the 8th and 9th place team.  The Broncos’ road does not get any easier with games at Utah State and then versus Nevada at home followed by the in-state rivalry game at Idaho.  It is entirely possible that the Broncos could be 0-8 midway through the conference race.

Fresno State (10-8, 3-1)

The week’s results:

  • 01/09 W vs. Hawai’i, 78-64
  • 01/11 W vs. San Jose State, 80-70
  • 01/14 L @ Louisiana Tech, 81-73

Upcoming games:

  • 01/16 @ New Mexico State
  • 01/21 vs. Utah State

The Bulldogs won two of three games over the past week and sit tied for second with New Mexico State.  The Bulldogs picked up a solid win over San Jose State and made one of the longest road trips in the WAC when they faced Louisiana Tech in Ruston.  The Bulldogs made the trip a man down as starting guard Steven Shepp did not make the trip to Ruston due to “academic” reasons as outlined in a statement from head coach Steve Cleveland.  Fresno State found themselves down big in the second half, falling behind by 20 points at 53-33 with 14:33 left to play.  Fresno State, however, showed some fight in the face of adversity and close the gap to just six at 74-68 with three minutes left — but couldn’t climb any closer over the final stretch.  Sylvester Seay and Paul George combined to score 37 points while Mychal Ladd and Greg Smith each pitched in 27.  Backup guard Brandon Sperling filled in for Shepp with five points.  The Bulldogs got just four points off the bench in the loss. Fresno State travels to New Mexico State on Saturday where they’ll battle the suddenly resurgent Aggies as both teams try to keep pace with Louisiana Tech.

Hawaii (8-9, 1-3)

The week’s results:

  • 01/09 L @ Fresno State, 78-64
  • 01/11 L @ Utah State, 98-54

Upcoming games:

  • 01/18 vs San Jose State

Back-to-back losses by Hawai’i on the mainland have dropped the Warriors below the .500 mark.  They suffered a 14 point defeat at Fresno State and then made the trip to Logan, UT where they were punished from start to finish by Utah State.  While there is certainly no shame in losing in Logan — most teams that enter the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum do not leave victorious — it was the observation of the Salt Lake Tribune‘s Tony Jones that is cause for concern.  Jones stated after the game, “Hawaii flat out quit in this game and that’s pretty embarrassing for a Division I team to do with 30 minutes remaining in a basketball game.” The Warriors host San Jose State as the try to get back on the positive side of things.

Idaho (8-7, 1-3)

The week’s results:

  • 01/09 L vs. Louisiana Tech, 77-71
  • 01/11 L vs. New Mexico State, 75-72

Upcoming games:

  • 01/16 @ Nevada

After splitting their conference-opening road trip the Vandals’ regular season title hopes took a big hit as they were swept by Louisiana Tech and New Mexico State at home.  Both games were within reach for the Vandals down the stretch but the inability to make free throws (or any shot, for that matter) in the latter stages of the second half against Louisiana Tech and then the inability to make a defensive stop against New Mexico State in the same time frame cost the Vandals both games.  With a 1-3 record Idaho sits effectively four games behind Louisiana Tech — three games in the  loss column, plus losing the first head-to-head matchup.  The road does not get any easier as they face Nevada at Lawlor Arena in Reno on Saturday, a place where they have only won once since joining the WAC (it was just last season).

Louisiana Tech (16-2, 4-0)

The week’s results:

  • 01/09 W @ Idaho, 77-71
  • 01/11 W @ Boise State, 79-64
  • 01/14 vs. Fresno State, 81-73

Upcoming games:

  • 01/21 @ San Jose State

The Bulldogs continue to impress after a road sweep in the state of Idaho and a home victory over second place Fresno State.  After securing a hard fought victory over Idaho, the Bulldogs ran roughshod over the Broncos, winning 79-64.  At 17-2 the Bulldogs are off to their best start since the 1984-85 season and have rattled off ten consecutive victories.  Their 5-0 league record is their best start since joining the WAC.  Kyle Gibson scored a career-high 33 points in the victory over visiting Fresno State. Louisiana Tech takes their show back on the road as they’ll face San Jose State on the 21st, part of their longest road trip of the season as they’ll face Hawai’i two nights later.

Nevada (10-7, 2-2)

The week’s results:

  • 01/09 W vs. San Jose State, 96-67
  • 01/13 L vs. Utah State, 79-72 (OT)

Upcoming games:

  • 01/16 vs. Idaho
  • 01/20 @ Boise State

After splitting their opening road trip in conference play the Wolf Pack did the same in their first two home conference games.  After picking up an impressive 96-67 victory over a better-than-their-record San Jose State squad the Wolf Pack hosted Utah State on Wednesday night in a nationally televised game on ESPN2.  While the two teams did not disappoint on the court for most home viewers, it was the Wolf Pack fans who went home disappointed.  Nevada gave up a 10-point second half lead and were pushed to overtime where Utah State took over the game.  The Wolf Pack hit just 9-18 free throws in the game.  The loss evened the Wolf Pack’s record to 2-2 in league play but with games against the two Idaho schools coming up, they could put themselves in a good position nearly midway through the league race.

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

The week’s results:

  • 01/09 W @ Boise State, 88-85
  • 01/11 W @ Idaho, 75-72

Upcoming games:

  • 01/16 vs. Fresno State

New Mexico State erased the disappointment of their home loss to Nevada by sweeping the state of Idaho in a pair of down-to-the-wire games.  The Aggies faced off against Boise State in a game in which neither team seemed to be able to hold a lead.  In the first half the Aggies led by six, then trailed by ten, but cut the lead to four by halftime.  Then in the second half the Aggies led by two early in the second half, but then trailed by seven shortly thereafter…only to go up by nine with under nine minutes left.  They then gave up the lead and trailed by four with just under two minutes left before finally rallying to win by three.  It was the sixth consecutive game between the two that the victorious team scored at least 80 points.  Against Idaho, the Aggies’ Jahmar Young scored 32 points, one shy of his career high; every point was critical as the Aggies held off Idaho down the stretch.  The Aggies have never had an easy time in Moscow but continued their dominance over the Vandals, having now won nine of the last ten meetings. The Aggies host Fresno State on Saturday with second place in the standings on the line.  With Louisiana Tech threatening to make the league race a fight for second, the Aggies and Bulldogs will both be hungry for the win to try to keep pace with Louisiana Tech.

San Jose State (9-7, 2-2)

The week’s results:

  • 01/09 L @ Nevada, 96-67
  • 01/11 L @ Fresno, 80-70
  • 01/14 W vs. Boise State, 76-74

Upcoming games:

  • 01/18 @ Hawai’i
  • 01/21 vs. Louisiana Tech

The Spartans played three games over the past week and came away with a 1-2 record.  After getting blown out by Nevada and losing on the road to Fresno State, the Spartans bounced back with a win over Boise State at home.  Adrian Oliver led the way with a season-high 33 points.  It was SJSU’s first win over Boise State in their past 15 games and just their second win in the past 21 meetings.  San Jose State makes the trip to the islands to face a reeling Hawai’i squad before returning home to host league leader Louisiana Tech.

Utah State (12-6, 2-2)

The week’s results:

  • 01/11 W vs. Hawai’i, 98-54
  • 01/13 W @ Nevada, 79-72 (OT)

Upcoming games:

  • 01/16 vs. Boise State
  • 01/21 @ Fresno State

Shellshocked no more. Whatever the Aggies were missing on offense in their first two league games in averaging just 55 points per game, they found it when they returned to Logan.  The Aggies stomped visiting Hawai’i, scoring 98 points –  43 above their average in the first two games.  They followed it up with a gritty road victory over Nevada in overtime.  The Aggies erased a 10-point deficit late in the second half to force overtime,  subsequently outscoring Nevada 10-3 as Jared Quayle and Tyler Newbold each hit three pointers for the Aggies.  Utah State found their shot as they hit 50% of their three point attempts in the game (8-16) and were 11-13 from the free throw line.

UPCOMING GAMES

  • 01/16 – Nevada vs. Idaho – 7:00 p.m. PT
  • 01/16 – Utah State vs. Boise State – 7:00 p.m. MT (CW30-Utah)
  • 01/16 – New Mexico State vs. Fresno State – 7:00 p.m. MT (AggieVision, Bulldog Sports Network)
  • 01/17 – Hawai’i vs. San Jose State – 7:00 p.m. HT (KFVE Honolulu)
  • 01/20 – Boise State vs. Nevada – 7:00 p.m. MT (Comcast SportsNet California)
  • 01/21 – Fresno State vs. Utah State – 7:00 p.m. PT
  • 01/21 – San Jose State vs. Louisiana Tech – 7:00 p.m. PT
  • 01/21 – Hawai’i vs. New Mexico State – 7:00 p.m. HT (KFVE Honolulu)
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Checking In On… the WAC

Posted by jstevrtc on December 3rd, 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 (6-1)
  2. Idaho (4-1)
  3. Boise State (4-2)
  4. Utah State (4-2)
  5. Nevada (2-3)
  6. San Jose State (2-3)
  7. Fresno State (2-4)
  8. Hawai’i (2-4)
  9. New Mexico State (2-4)

The WAC finally got another win over the Mountain West as Utah State struck down BYU, 71-61, in Logan, UT.  The league is now just 3-8 against the Mountain West.  As for the rest of the WAC?  The non-conference has been unkind. The top four teams in the standings are 18-6 in non-conference play.  The other five teams, however, are just 10-18 and the league as a collective whole is just 28-24.  Aside from Idaho’s win over Utah (3-4)  — which is has lost some of its luster following Utah losses to Seattle and Weber State — Utah State’s win over BYU (5-1), and San Jose State’s win over Pacific (5-1), the marquee wins have not been there.  Nevada came oh-so-close last week as they fell to VCU 85-76 and hung tough with defending national champion North Carolina 80-73, but the league went 7-8 over the past seven days.

The WAC, however, can redeem itself as it prepares for perhaps its toughest week of non-conference play.  Boise State travels to Illinois (5-2), New Mexico State travels to New Mexico (7-0), Utah State hosts St. Mary’s (5-1), Nevada travels to Pacific (5-1), Fresno State hosts San Diego (4-3), Idaho hosts #25 Portland (5-2) and then faces border rival Washington State (6-1), and Louisiana Tech heads to Arizona (3-3).  Eight games, eight chances to notch RPI-boosting victories.

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