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This Week in WAC Men's Basketball - Jan. 2
Courtesy: San Jose State

Idaho’s Kyle Barone has been named the Western Athletic Conference Men’s Basketball Player of the Week for the week of Dec. 24-30.

Barone, a senior center from Garden Grove, Calif. (Pacifica HS), led Idaho to a 71-64 comeback win in its WAC opener at Seattle U. Barone scored 25 points and pulled down 11 rebounds, despite regularly facing double- and triple-teams all night with leading scorer Stephen Madison on the bench in foul trouble. Barone’s 25 points are a season high and tie his career high. He now has three 20/10 games this season and back-to-back 20/10 games for the first time in his career. Barone had a season-high seven offensive rebounds and a season-high-tying 11 total rebounds in the win. He scored 16 of Idaho’s 38 points in the second half, going 8-of-10 from the free throw line in the second half and converting two of three 3-point plays during the game. In his last three games, Barone is averaging 21.3 points and 9.0 rebounds on 22-of-31 (.710) overall and 20-of-22 (.909) free throw shooting.

Other nominees included: New Mexico State sophomore guard Daniel Mullings scored a game-high 21 points in at UT Arlington ... San Jose State junior forward Chris Cunningham recorded an 11-point, 14-rebound double-double in a win at Texas State ... Seattle U D’Vonne Pickett Jr. scored a season-high 17 points versus Idaho ... UT Arlington senior forward Kevin Butler 18 points with six rebounds in a win over New Mexico State ... UTSA junior guard/forward Jordan Sims scored 20 points with five assists against Utah State ... Utah State junior guard Preston Medlin scored scored a season-high 24 points in a road win at UTSA.

The 2013 WAC Men’s and Women’s Basketball Tournament will be held March 12-16 at the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas and will include all ten WAC teams. Ticket information and tournament format are available at www.wacbasketball.com

Each of the WAC’s 10 teams opened league play on Saturday. San Jose State opened the WAC season with a 72-55 road victory over Texas State. Louis Garrett led the Spartans with a team-high 16 points in the win, while teammate Chris Cunningham posted a double-double with 11 points and 14 rebounds. Utah State opened league play with a 71-67 road win at UTSA. Preston Medlin posted a season-high 24 points in the win. Louisiana Tech defeated Denver 68-60 behind Raheem Appleby’s 12 points. Kevin Butler scored 18 points to lead UT Arlington to a 68-47 win at home against New Mexico State. Kyle Barone was named the league’s player of the week after posting a 25-point, 11-rebound double-double effort in a 71-64 come-from-behind win at Seattle U. 

As of Dec. 30, teams from the WAC rank in the top-10 in three team statistical categories and two individual categories. UT Arlington holds the highest team mark. UTA ranks fourth nationally in field goal percentage defense, holding teams to a 34.5 percentage. Utah State ranks sixth in the nation in field goal percentage at 34.5 and ranks ninth nationally in rebound margin at 10.4. Individually, Texas State’s Matt Staff holds the highest mark as he ranks first nationally with a 97.2 percent free-throw percentage. Staff is  35-for-36 at the charity stripe this season as of Dec. 30. San Jose State’s James Kinney ranks seventh in scoring at 21.5 points per game.

Texas State senior forward Matt State leads the nation from the free throw line this season as he is 35-for-37 from the charity stripe this season. Dating back to March of last season, Staff had made 35 straight free throws until a miss on Dec. 29 against San Jose State. Staff came up just 17 free throws short of the WAC record for consecutive free throws made  (52) set by New Mexico’s Rob Robbins during the 1989-90 season.


Denver Pioneers (5-7, 1-1 WAC)
The Pioneers have opened WAC play with a 1-1 record ... the team dropped a 68-60 decision at Louisiana Tech before defeating UT Arlington 50-35 on Monday ... in the loss at LA Tech, sophomore forward Royce O’Neale recorded 18 points and seven rebounds to lead DU ... junior forward Chris Udofia added 10 points and six rebounds for the Pioneers, who shot 46.9 percent (23-of-49) from the field ... sophomore guard Cam Griffin registered nine points, six rebounds and three assists ... in the win over UTA, freshman guard Nate Engesser scored a career-high 14 points ... senior guard Chase Hallam scored eight points with four steals, while sophomore guard Brett Olson added nine points ... DU opens the new year at home against Texas State on Thursday and UTSA on Sunday.

Idaho Vandals (5-6, 1-0 WAC)
Idaho moved to 5-0 under head coach Don Verlin in WAC road openers on Saturday with a 71-64 comeback win at Seattle U … Idaho trailed by seven with six minutes to play, but ended the game on a 14-4 run … Idaho held a 35-32 rebounding margin over SU, which entered the game ranked in the top 15 nationally in rebounds per game … the Vandals have out-rebounded their opponents nine times in 11 games this season, including each of the last seven … Saturday’s game was just the second time this season that Idaho was outscored in fast break points … junior guard Robert Harris entered the game 2-of-5 from 3-point range this season, but hit three triples in a row in the final three minutes on Saturday to key the team’s final push ... Idaho continues play on Thursday at San Jose State and on Saturday at Utah State.

Louisiana Tech Bulldogs (11-3, 2-0 WAC)
Louisiana Tech opened WAC play with a perfect 2-0 record after wins over Denver and New Mexico State ... the Bulldogs defeated Denver 68-60 before dropping NM State 81-72 ... LA Tech is now 6-0 at home this season and on a 10-game home winning streak dating back to last season ... six different Bulldogs scored at least eight points in the victory over Denver ... forward Michale Kyser registered three blocks, marking the 11th time in 13 games this season he has blocked at least two ... sophomore guard Raheem Appleby led Louisiana Tech with a team-high 12 points ... in the win over NM State, Alex Hamilton came off the bench to score a career-high 20 points, including a perfect 10-of-10 from the free throw line ... the win over NMSU was LA Tech’s first win over the Aggies sinche Feb. 26, 2009 ... LA Tech continues WAC play at UT Arlington on Saturday.

New Mexico State Aggies (6-8, 0-2 WAC)
New Mexico State opened WAC play with a pair of losses ... the Aggies dropped a 68-47 decision at UT Arlington before falling 81-72 at Louisiana Tech ... at UTA, Sophomore guard Daniel Mullings scored a game-high 21 points for the Aggies with his fourth 20-point effort of the season ... freshman center Sim Bhullar was also in double figures with 14 points and a career-high five blocked shots ... he Aggies struggled offensively and shot 33.3 percent from the field (17-of-51), and were out-rebounded for only the fourth game this season, 44-37 ... at LA Tech, Mullings tallied a game-high 21 points for the second straight game, connecting on 8-of-16 shots from the field ... senior forward Tyrone Watson contributed 14 points, and he was 10-for-14 from the free-throw line, hitting 10 in a row ... NM State continues WAC play against UTSA and Texas State at home this week.

San Jose State Spartans (7-5, 2-0 WAC)

San Jose State opened WAC play with a 2-0 record ... the Spartans defeated Texas State 72-55 before downing UTSA 80-67, both on the road ... San Jose State shot 51.8 percent from the field as three players scored in double figures to lead the Spartans to the win over Texas State ... Louis Garrett led the Spartans with a season-best 16 points as he was 6-for-9 from the field ... James Kinney returned to the starting lineup and scored 12 points and grabbed five rebounds ... Chris Cunningham recorded his fifth double-double of the season with 11 points and 14 rebounds ... at UTSA, Kinney had his seventh 20-plus point game of the season as San Jose State defeated the Roadrunners ... the Spartans continue WAC play this week at home against Idaho on Thursday and Seattle U on Saturday.

Seattle U Redhawks (5-6, 0-1 WAC)
Seattle University played its first conference game at any level in five years and its first NCAA Division I conference game in 33 years Saturday against Idaho, but the Vandals were able to pull out a 71-64 victory ... D’Vonne Pickett Jr. led the Redhawks with 17 points and six rebounds, while Clarence Trent scored 14 points and Deshaun Sunderhaus contributed 10 points, five rebounds, and two blocked shots ... Seattle U shot 51.6 percent from the field in the first half, but only 36.0 percent in the second half as Idaho came back from a seven-point deficit with six minutes remaining in the second half ... he Redhawks committed only 11 turnovers, the second-lowest total of the season ... the Redhawks make their first WAC road trip of the season next weekend, facing Utah State Thursday night and San Jose State Saturday night.

UT Arlington Mavericks (6-4, 1-1 WAC)

UT Arlington opened the conference season with a 1-1 record ... the Mavericks defeated New Mexico State 68-47 before falling 50-35 to Denver at home ... in the win over NM State, Kevin Butler scored a team-high 18, grabbed six rebounds and made two steals ... freshman guard Drew Charles scored a career-high 12 ... UT Arlington shot 44.3-percent for the game, including 55.2 percent in the first half, while holding the Aggies to a 33.3 percentage ... in the loss to Denver, Karol Gruszecki led the Mavericks with a game-high eight points ... Butler scored seven points with eight rebounds in the loss ... UT Arlington shot just 27.7 percent (13-of-47) from the field in the game ... UTA connected on 3-of-9 shots from outside the arc ... UT Arlington steps out of league play to host Boise State on Wednesday before returning to WAC play on Saturday when the team hosts Louisiana Tech.

UTSA Roadrunners (4-8, 0-2 WAC)
Thursday’s game at New Mexico State marks UTSA’s first road WAC contest and the 200th game of seventh-year head coach Brooks Thompson’s UTSA career … UTSA will play its 10th road game in its eighth different state on Thursday and eventually will play games in 13 states this season … The Roadrunners are 4-0 when holding opponents to under 40-percent shooting … UTSA is the only WAC team with three players in the top 12 in scoring — senior guards Kannon Burrage (2nd/17.6) and Michael Hale III (8th/14.8) and junior forward Jeromie Hill (12th/14.0) … Hale ranks in the WAC top 10 in eight different statistical categories, including first in 3-point field goal percentage (.500) … Hill, a preseason second-team All-WAC selection, became a member of the school’s 1,000-point and 500-rebound clubs in the Utah State loss last Saturday night and he now has 1,023 points and 515 boards in 78 career games.

Texas State Bobcats (4-10, 0-2 WAC)

Texas State opened WAC play with an 0-2 record ... the Bobcats dropped a 72-55 decision to San Jose State before falling 81-57 to Utah State ... both games were at home ... Joel Wright led the Bobcats ‘offense with 22 points and six rebounds against San Jose State ... Phil Hawkins added 10 points off the bench for Texas State ... in the loss to Utah State, Wesley Davis registered a career-high 22 points, while junior guard Deonte’ Jones was solid for the Bobcats with 10 points ... Davis was on-point tonight for Texas State, putting on a 10-for-12 performance from the floor en route to his best offensive game in a Bobcat uniform, scoring 16 of his 22 points in the second half to generate the Bobcats’ offense ... Wright chipped in 11 points and nine rebounds against the Aggies ... Texas State continues WAC play at Denver on Thursday and at New Mexico State on Saturday.

Utah State Aggies (11-1, 2-0 WAC)
Utah State opened league play with a 2-0 road record ... the Aggies defeated UTSA 71-67 before downing Texas State 81-57 ... Utah State is 3-0 on the road this season and has won its last six road games as part of 25 of its last 38 road games dating back to the 2009-10 season ... in the WAC opener at UTSA, Preston Medlin led the Aggies with a season-high 24 points ... he netted his second 20-point outing in the last three games, connecting on 9-of-15 shooting from the field, helping USU to a season-high 62.2 FG percentage, which is the highest in the WAC this season. Medlin also hit 3-of-7 from distance and 3-of-4 at the free pitch stripe ... in the win at Texas State, Medlin again led the Aggies with 21 points and six rebounds ... Spencer Butterfield helped with 18, while Jarred Shaw had 17 ... this week, USU continues WAC play against Seattle U and Idaho, both in Logan.
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