This Week in WAC Men's Basketball - Jan. 15
LOUISIANA TECH’S McNEAIL NAMED WAC PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Louisiana Tech’s Kenyon McNeail has been named the Western Athletic Conference Men’s Basketball Player of the Week for the week of Jan. 7-13.
McNeail, a junior guard from Conway, Ark. (Conway HS), came off the bench to help the Bulldogs to a pair of road wins last week. In a 73-71 win at UTSA, McNeail tied LA Tech’s record for most made three-point field goals in a single game with nine and broke the school record with 15 three-point field goal attempts. McNeail scored a career-high 34 points, including the game-winning three in the win at UTSA. His nine three-pointers is the top mark in the WAC this season and the third-best single-game performance in the nation this season. McNeail also came off the bench to score six points with four rebounds in an 84-67 road win at Texas State.
On the week, McNeail averaged 20.0 points, 2.0 rebounds, 1.0 assists and 1.0 steals per game. He shot 52.0 percent (13-of-25) from the field, 52.4 percent (11-of-21) from three-point range and 75.0 percent (3-of-4) from the free throw line.
Other nominees included: Denver senior guard Chase Hallam averaged 15.5 points in a pair of road wins … Idaho sophomore guard Connor Hill averaged 14.5 points over two games … New Mexico State senior forward Tyrone Watson scored a career-high 26 points in a road win at Seattle U … Seattle U junior forward Clarence Trent averaged 15.0 points and 8.0 rebounds over two games … Texas State junior Joel Wright averaged 24 points in two games … UT Arlington senior center Jordan Reves averaged 16 points and 6.5 rebounds in a pair of road wins … Utah State junior guard Preston Medlin scored a season-high 25 points to lead the Aggies to a win over San Jose State.
WAC TOURNAMENT RETURNS TO LAS VEGAS
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
WEEK TEN RECAP
WAC teams entered their third week of league play this past week. Denver, Louisiana Tech, New Mexico State and UT Arlington each swept a pair of road games. Denver won at both Idaho and Seattle U. Chase Hallam led the Pioneers to the two wins, averaging 14.5 points per game. Louisiana Tech defeated Texas State and UTSA on the road. Kenyon McNeail earned WAC Player of the Week honors after scoring 40 points over the two games, including a career-high 34 with nine threes at UTSA. New Mexico State defeated Seattle U and Idaho on the road as Bandja Sy led the Aggies with 37 points and 16 rebounds over the two games. Jordan Reves led UT Arlington to wins at UTSA and Texas State. Reves averaged 16.0 points and 6.5 rebounds per game last week. Utah State went 1-0 with a win at home over San Jose State. Preston Medlin scored a season-high 25 points in the win over the Spartans. Idaho, Seattle U, Texas State and UTSA each went 0-2 at home last week, while San Jose State went 1-1 with a non-confernece win over New Orleans and a WAC loss at Utah State.
UTAH STATE AND LOUISIANA TECH FEATURED IN MID-MAJOR POLLS, AGGIES RECEIVING VOTES IN NATIONAL POLLS
Utah State is ranked No. 4 in the latest collegeinsider.com Mid-Major Top-25 poll. The Aggies are sandwiched between No. 3 Bucknell and No. 5 Wichita State in the poll. Louisiana Tech entered the poll this week at No. 22, a spot in front of Wright State. Creighton holds the No. 1 spot in the mid-major top-25 poll. Utah State is also featured in the ESPN.com Mid-Major Power Rankings. The Aggies are ranked No. 6 in the power rankings, ahead of Belmont at No. 7 and behind St. Mary’s at No. 5. Gonzaga holds the top spot in the ESPN.com mid-major power ratings. Utah State is also receiving votes in both the top-25 national polls. The Aggies are receiving one vote in the AP poll and two votes in the Coaches’ Poll.
WAC TEAMS/PLAYERS AMONG NATIONAL STATISTICAL LEADERS
As of Jan. 13, teams from the WAC rank in the top-20 nationally in five team statistical categories and three individual categories. UT Arlington holds the league’s top national ranking as the Mavericks rank fifth nationally in field-goal percentage defense at 36.1. Utah State ranks ninth with a 93.3 winning percentage. Denver ranks 10th in scoring defense at 55.7 percent. Individually, Louisiana Tech’s Michale Kyser ranks eighth in blocks per game at 3.29. San Jose State’s James Kinney ranks 13th in scoring at 20.6 points per game. Kinney also ranks 17th in steals per game at 2.43.
WAC TO PARTICIPATE IN ESPN’S RAMADA WORLDWIDE BRACKETBUSTERS
The WAC will participate in the 11th annual Ramada Worldwide BracketBusters event, a two-day men’s college basketball event pitting potential NCAA Championship hopefuls against each other Feb. 22-23, will feature 13 nationally televised games – across ESPN2, ESPNU and ESPN3. Six teams from the WAC will participate in this year’s BracketBuster event. Those teams include Utah State, Texas State, UTSA, Denver, UT Arlington and Idaho. Matchups for the event will be announced live on Monday, Feb. 4 at 4:30 p.m. MT on ESPNU.
WAC TEAM-BY-TEAM NOTES
Denver Pioneers (9-7, 5-1 WAC)
The Pioneers return home to Magness Arena to host San Jose State on Thursday and Utah State on Saturday ... last season, the Pioneers snapped the Aggies’ 33-game home winning streak with a 67-54 victory in Logan, a win that also snapped a nine-game winning streak by USU over DU dating back to 1975 ... Denver has won five-straight games, including just the fifth multi-game weekend road sweep since the Pioneers returned to NCAA Division I in 1998 ... Chase Hallam set a new career-high with five three-pointers at Seattle U on Jan. 12, just two days after scoring eight of his team-high 14 points in the final 3:20 to seal a win at Idaho ... Hallam moved into second on DU’s career steals list with 168 in his career, and he is third in career three-point percentage (.438) and tied for ninth in three-pointers (141).
Idaho Vandals (6-9, 2-3 WAC)
Idaho dropped a pair of closely contested games last week ... the Vandals dropped a 55-49 decision to Denver before falling 71-70 to New Mexico State ... Idaho trailed by as many as 17 points against NM State on Saturday and came back to tie the game twice in the final minute, but a foul with two seconds left gave the Aggies two free throws and a one-point win … senior center Kyle Barone notched his WAC-best seventh double-double of the season on Saturday with 18 points and 10 rebounds … sophomore guard Connor Hill converted his NCAA-best third four-point play of the season on Thursday against Denver … Hill averaged 14.5 points on 40 percent 3-point shooting during the week … he led Idaho’s comeback with 15 of his 17 points in the second half to help Idaho eliminate a 17-point deficit before NM State earned the win … Idaho plays at Louisiana Tech and at UT Arlington this week.
Louisiana Tech Bulldogs (14-3, 5-0 WAC)
The Bulldogs are riding a six-game winning streak after the victories over Texas State and UTSA on the road last week ... it marks the first time since the 1991-92 season that the Bulldogs have had multiple winning streaks of at least six games in a season ... LA Tech had a seven-game winning streak from Nov. 14-30 ... for only the second time since LA Tech joined the WAC in 2001, the Bulldogs are off to a 5-0 start in conference play ... Kenyon McNeail was named the WAC’s Player of the Week after tying the program record for most made three’s in a single game (nine) ... he also broke the program record for most attempted in a single game (15) ... his game-winning three-pointer with 19 seconds remaining against UTSA gave him a new career-high of 34 points and matched the season-high for any Bulldog player ... this week, LA Tech hosts Idaho and Seattle U at the TAC.
New Mexico State Aggies (10-8, 4-2 WAC)
New Mexico State picked up a pair of road wins last week ... the Aggies defeated Seattle U 83-82 in double overtime before defeating Idaho 71-70 in Moscow ... the win over SU marked the Aggies’ first WAC road win of the year ... forward Tyrone Watson scored a career-high 26 points against the Redhawks ... it was the first multiple overtime game for the Aggies since the triple overtime thriller against Boise State in the 2008 WAC Championship game and first win in multiple overtime since the 1997-98 season ... at Idaho, sophomore guard Daniel Mullings hit a free throw with 3.5 seconds remaining in regulation to secure a 71-70 win ... K.C. Ross-Miller had a career-high 16 points, and freshman center Sim Bhullar also had 16 points ... this week, NM State hosts Utah State and San Jose State.
San Jose State Spartans (8-7, 3-2 WAC)
San Jose State went 0-1 last week with a 66-60 loss at Utah State ... three Spartans starters scored in double figures but Utah State made 17-of-their-21 free throws in the second half ... D.J. Brown led the Spartan scorers with 16 points, while Chris Cunningham scored 15, points grabbed eight rebounds and dished out a season-high four assists ... Xavier Jones, making his first start in a Spartan uniform, scored 14 points on 7-of-12 shooting and had two assists and a steal in 35 minutes of action ... the Spartans made the trip without starters James Kinney and Louis Garrett who account for 39 percent of the team’s offense and led the team in scoring the past five games ... San Jose State continues on the road next week with games at Denver on Thursday and at New Mexico State on Saturday.
Seattle U Redhawks (5-10, 0-5 WAC)
For the fourth straight conference game, Seattle U held a lead late, but New Mexico State hit a three-pointer at the end of regulation, and the Redhawks would eventually fall to the Aggies in double overtime, 83-82, Thursday night ... it was the first time Seattle U played a multiple-overtime game since defeating Hawaii-Hilo in three overtimes, 90-88, during the 1983-84 season ... Saturday, Denver hit six three-pointers in the first 11 minutes of the game and maintained a double-digit lead the rest of the way in defeating Seattle U, 64-51 ... while the Pioneers made 12 three-pointers in the game, the Redhawks did not make any long distance shots, something that had not happened to Seattle U since at least 2001 ... the Redhawks hit the road for games at UT Arlington Jan. 17 and at Louisiana Tech Jan. 19.
UT Arlington Mavericks (8-6, 3-2 WAC)
UT Arlington went 2-0 on the road last week ... the Mavs defeated UTSA 75-67 before dowingin Texas State 91-74 ... Jordan Reves’ season-high 21 points helped UT Arlington snap a three-game losing in Thursday night’s victory over UTSA at the Convocation Center ... junior guard Shaquille White-Miller matched his season’s best in assists with six at the break, and finished the game with nine points ... Karol Gruszecki led a balanced attack as UT Arlington raced past Texas State ... Gruszecki knocked down seven 3-pointers and scored 23 to set career highs in both categories ... all five starters scored in double figures for the Mavericks for the first time this season in the win at Texas State ... this week, UT Arlington hosts Seattle U and Idaho.
UTSA Roadrunners (4-12, 0-6 WAC)
UTSA has lost six straight games, the longest streak since dropping seven in a row during the 2006-07 season … the Roadrunners host I-35 rival and former Southland Conference foe Texas State in the first of two meetings on Saturday, a series that UTSA leads, 31-22 … UTSA is just 1-4 at home this season … the Roadrunners are the only WAC team with three players in the top 10 in scoring — Kannon Burrage (2nd, 17.4), Michael Hale III (9th, 13.6), Jeromie Hill (10th, 13.3) … Michael Hale III ranks in the WAC top 10 in seven different statistical categories … Jeromie Hill, who is out on a week-to-week basis with a knee injury, ranks seventh in UTSA history with 528 career rebounds and 81 starts and is 13th on the all-time scoring list with 1,054 points
Texas State Bobcats (4-14, 0-6 WAC)
Texas State went 0-2 last week ... the team dropped an 84-67 decision to Louisiana Tech before falling 91-74 to UT Arlington ... Texas State is on a nine-game losing streak, dating back to Dec. 15 ... the Bobcats are shooting 69.9 percent from the floor with a pair of players averaging double figures (Wright, 16.4 pg and Staff, 12.2 ppg) ... Joel Wright had an impressive week, as the junior transfer scored 24 points in both of Texas State’s outings ... despite a pair of losses by the Cats, Wright shot 60.7 percent from the floor and a perfect 100 percent from three-point range ... the big man added 12 rebounds to his resume, in addition to five assists and a pair of blocks ... this week, Texas State travels to play at UTSA on Saturday.
Utah State Aggies (14-1, 5-0 WAC)
Utah State defeated San Jose State 66-60 in the team’s lone game of the week ... Preston Medlin led USU with a season-high 25 points in the win over the Spartans ... USU has won 13 games in a row, and Utah State’s 14-1 start to the 2012-13 season is the third-best in school history, trailing the 2008-09 team that started the year with a 24-1 mark and the 2003-04 squad that began the year with a 20-1 record ... Utah State has started WAC play with a 5-0 mark for the second time in the last three years, as the 2010-11 Aggies opened league play with an 11-0 WAC mark ... it is also USU’s fourth 5-0 WAC beginning in its eight years in the league, also doing so in 2007-08 and 2008-09 in addition to 2010-11 ... this week, Utah State travels to play New Mexico State on Thursday and Denver on Saturday.