This Week in WAC Men's Basketball - Jan. 22
DENVER’S OLSON NAMED WAC PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Denver’s Brett Olson has been named the Western Athletic Conference Men’s Basketball Player of the Week for the week of Jan. 14-20.
Olson, a sophomore guard from Highlands Ranch, Colo. (Highlands Ranch HS), led Denver to a weekend sweep over San Jose State and Utah State, the Pioneers’ sixth and seventh-straight wins. In the 73-37 win over San Jose State, Olson scored 15 points on 6-of-8 (75 percent) shooting from the field, including a 3-of-4 mark from long range. In the 68-57 win against Utah State, Olson scored a season-high 18 points on 7-of-8 (53.8 percent) shooting from the floor and a 4-of-8 clip from the three-point line.
On the week, Olson averaged 16.5 points, 2.5 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 0.5 steals per game. He shot 61.9 percent (13-of-21) from the field and 58.3 percent (7-of-12) from three-point range. Olson did not commit a single turnover last week.
Other nominees included: Idaho senior center Kyle Barone averaged 16.5 points and 12.5 rebounds over two games … Louisiana Tech freshman guard Kenneth Smith scored 22 points with eight assists against Idaho … New Mexico State senior forward Bandja Sy averaged 16.0 points and 7.5 rebounds in a pair of wins … Seattle U junior forward Clarence Trent averaged 13.5 points and 6.0 rebounds last week ... Texas State junior forward Corey Stern scored 18 points with 13 rebounds in an overtime win against UTSA … UTSA senior guard Michael Hale III scored a career-high 31 points and nine rebounds against Texas State … Utah State junior forward Marvin Jean scored a career-high 14 points at Denver.
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 11 RECAP
WAC teams entered their fourth week of league play this past week. Denver, Louisiana Tech and New Mexico State each went a perfect 2-0 last week. Denver defeated San Jose State and Utah State at home. DU’s Brett Olson led the Pioneers as he more than doubled his scoring average, averaging 16.5 points per game over the two contests. Louisiana Tech defeated both Idaho and Seattle U at home. Kenneth Smith led the Bulldogs averaging 15.0 points and 5.0 assists per game. NM State defeated Utah State and San Jose State at home behind Bandja Sy’s 16.0 points and 7.5 rebounds per game. Texas State each went 1-0 last week. Texas State got into the win column with a victory over UTSA. Reid Koenen led the Bobcats with 23 points in the win. Idaho and Seattle U each went 1-1 last week. Idaho fell at Louisiana Tech before winning at UT Arlington. Kyle Barone led the Vandals as he averaged 16.5 points and 12.5 rebounds over the two games. Seattle U wan at UT Arlington before falling at Louisiana Tech. Clarence Trent led the Redhawks over the two games, averaging 13.5 points and 6.0 rebounds per game. UTSA went 0-1 on the week, while San Jose State, UT Arlington and Utah State each went 0-2 last week.
UTAH STATE AND LOUISIANA TECH FEATURED IN MID-MAJOR POLLS, BULLDOGS RECEIVING VOTES IN AP NATIONAL POLL
Utah State is ranked No. 12 and Louisiana Tech is No. 21 in the latest collegeinsider.com Mid-Major Top-25 poll. The Aggies are sandwiched between No. 11 Murray State and No. 13 Akron in the poll. Louisiana Tech moved up to this week to No. 21, a spot in front of Weber State. Gonzaga holds the No. 1 spot in the mid-major top-25 poll. New Mexico State is receiving seven votes and Denver is receiving four in the poll. Utah State is also featured in the ESPN.com Mid-Major Power Rankings. The Aggies are ranked No. 8 in the power rankings, ahead of Stephen F. Austin at No. 9 and behind BYU at No. 7. Gonzaga holds the top spot in the ESPN.com mid-major power ratings. Louisiana Tech is also receiving votes in the AP top-25 national polls. The Bulldogs are receiving two vote in the AP poll and would be No. 37 in the poll went past the top-25.
WAC TEAMS/PLAYERS AMONG NATIONAL STATISTICAL LEADERS
As of Jan. 20, teams from the WAC rank in the top-15 nationally in four team statistical categories and three individual categories. Denver ranks seventh nationally in scoring defense at 54.7. Louisiana Tehc ranks sevneth in turnover margin at 5.1. Denver ranks 12th in assist-to-turnover ratio at 1.40 and Utah State ranks 14th nationally in field goal percentage at 48.8. Individually, Louisiana Tech’s Michale Kyser ranks seventh in blocks per game at 3.32. Idaho’s Connor Hill ranks ninth in three-point field goal percentage at 46.9 and San Jose State’s James Kinney ranks 11th in scoring at 20.6 points per game.
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 will be announced live on Monday, Feb. 4 at 4:30 p.m. MT on ESPNU.
WAC TEAM-BY-TEAM NOTES
Denver Pioneers (11-7, 7-1 WAC)
The Pioneers play the first of three-straight road games, when Denver ... Denver committed a combined eight turnovers in two games last week, including just three against Utah State on Jan. 19, the lowest total by DU since returning to NCAA Division I in 1998-99 ... during DU’s current seven-game home winning streak, the Pioneers have shot 56.1 percent from the field and 47.9 percent from three-point range, while holding opponents to just 36.4 percent and 26.7 percent ... Denver has won those seven home games by an average of 24.6 points, including a 36-point winning margin over San Jose State on Jan. 17 – the team’s highest since beating Arkansas State by 38 points in a 74-36 rout on Jan. 20, 2011 ... Brett Olson (Highlands Ranch, Colo.) shot 61.9 percent from the field and 58.3 percent from three-point range last week, scoring 15 points against SJSU and a season-high 18 against USU.
Idaho Vandals (7-10, 3-4 WAC)
Idaho split last week at LA Tech and UT Arlington … the Vandals out-shot and out-rebounded LA Tech on Thursday and led for much of the game, but a flurry of unforced turnovers late in the game gave the Bulldogs several free points and Idaho lost its fourth game in a row, all to the teams currently ranked first through fourth in the WAC, and all games which Idaho either led in the final moments or had chances to win late … Idaho shot a season-high 59.5 percent from the floor at UT Arlington and out-rebounded the Mavs by 12 to claim its biggest WAC win of the season at 77-64 … Connor Hill earned and converted his NCAA-best fourth four-point play of the season on Thursday … Hill is shooting .526 from 3-point range in his last 11 games … Kyle Barone enters the week with 1,182 career points and can become the highest-scoring post player in Idaho history with just 14 more points.
Louisiana Tech Bulldogs (16-3, 7-0 WAC)
The Bulldogs are riding an eight-game winning streak after the victories over Idaho and Seattle U ... it marks the first time since the 1987-88 season that the Bulldogs have had multiple winning streaks of at least seven games in a season ... LA Tech had a seven-game winning streak from Nov. 14-30 ... for the very first time since LA Tech joined the WAC in 2001, the Bulldogs are off to a 7-0 start in conference play ... the Bulldog defense forced a combined 47 turnovers in their two conference games this week ... Kenneth Smith poured in a career-high 22 points in the win over Idaho which included a career-high five three-pointers ... three of his four steals in the win came in the final minute to secure the victory ... this week, LA Tech travels to San Jose State on Thursday and Utah State on Saturday.
New Mexico State Aggies (12-8, 6-2 WAC)
NM State snapped Utah State’s 13-game winning streak, the second longest in the country, with a 64-51 victory, Jan. 17 in Las Cruces ... the Aggies had four players in double figures with senior forward Bandja Sy scoring a game-high 16 points. Sy was 7-of-9 from the field to lead the Aggies to a 57.8 field goal percentage (26-of-45) ... the Aggies won their sixth consecutive game with a 70-53 victory over San Jose State, Jan. 19 in Las Cruces ... Sy led the Aggies with 16 points on 50 percent shooting (6-of-12), and he had eight rebounds ... sophomore guard Daniel Mullings and senior forward Tyrone Watson were also in double digits with 13 points and 10 points, respectively ... the Aggies posted a 35-18 halftime lead over the Spartans ... this was the second straight game NM State has held opponents to 18 points in the first half ... NMSU hosts Denver on ESPNU Monday night at 9 p.m. MT
San Jose State Spartans (9-9, 3-4 WAC)
San Jose State went 0-2 last week with losses at Denver and at New Mexico State ... in the 73-37 loss at DU, a poor shooting performance and too many long scoring droughts helped doom the Spartans ... for the first time this season, no Spartan scored in double figures ... Chris Cunningham and LaVanne Pennington each had eight points to lead the team ... Cunningham led the team with six rebounds ... in the 70-53 loss at NM State, LaVanne Pennington tied his career high with a team-best 16 points, and the bench contributed 25 points, but a seven-minute scoring drought by San Jose State contributed to the loss ... Pennington scored 16 points for the third time this season on 6-of-13 shooting from the field ... he grabbed four rebounds and recorded a career-best five steals in 32 minutes of action ... SJSU returns home to host Louisiana Tech and UT Arlington this week.
Seattle U Redhawks (6-11, 1-6 WAC)
Seattle U finally picked up its first conference victory of the season, holding UT Arlington to 25.8 percent field goal shooting in Thursday’s 61-44 victory at College Park Center ... the Redhawks shot a season-best 56.8 percent from the field ... Chad Rasmussen led the Redhawks with 13 points, Prince Obasi finished with 12 points, seven rebounds, and four assists, and Jarell Flora contributed 10 points off the bench ... it was Seattle U’s first Division I conference victory since Feb. 28, 1980, a 76-58 win over San Diego while in the WCAC ... Saturday, Seattle U battled WAC leader Louisiana Tech in a game with five ties and nine lead changes before the Redhawks fell to the Bulldogs, 78-71 ... Clarence Trent scored a career-high 19 points while Prince Obasi dished out 11 assists ... Seattle U starts a four-game WAC homestand against UTSA (Jan. 24) and Texas State (Jan. 26).
UT Arlington Mavericks (8-8, 3-4 WAC)
UT Arlington went 0-2 last week with losses at home against Seattle U and Idaho ... in the 61-44 loss to Seattle U, Greg Gainey led the Mavericks with a team-high 13 points ... Jordan Reves pulled down 11 rebounds for UTA ... UTA had a rough go on the offensive end to begin the game agasint SU ... the Mavericks failed to convert on their first 11 3-pointers before Drew Charles hit UTA’s first with 3:40 remaining in the first half ... the Redhawks, however, hit 7 of 16 3-pointers in the first half and shot 53.8 percent from the field to extend their lead to as much as 20 points. in the 77-64 loss to Idaho, senior forward Kevin Butler led UT Arlington with 15 points and grabbed six rebounds ... Shaquille White-Miller scored 10 and dished out three assists. UT Arlington shot 37.5 percent (24-64) and missed 19 of 25 3-pointers ... UT Arlington travels to play at Utah State Thursday and at San Jose State Saturday.
UTSA Roadrunners (4-13, 0-7 WAC)
UTSA has dropped seven straight games, its longest losing streak since Feb. 8-March 1, 2007 … the Roadrunners were without starting power forward Jeromie Hill (knee) and reserve guard A.J. Price (knee) for the second straight week … UTSA played its first overtime game of the season in the 81-78 loss to I-35 rival Texas State on Saturday after playing five OT contests last season (2-3 record) … the Roadrunners will meet Seattle U and Idaho for the first time in school history this week … senior guard Michael Hale III registered career highs of 31 points, nine rebounds and 44 minutes in the 81-78 overtime loss to Texas State on Jan. 19 … the 31 points were the most by a Roadrunners since Travis Gabbidon tallied 31 against Texas-Pan American on Jan. 8, 2008 … senior guard Kannon Burrage is scoring 24.3 points per game over the last three contests, including a career-high 29 against Louisiana Tech on Jan. 12.
Texas State Bobcats (5-14, 1-6 WAC)
Texas State snapped its nine-game losing streak with an 81-78 overtime victory at UTSA ... five players scored in double figures to help lift the Bobcats to victory ... Texas State is shooting 70.5 percent from the floor with two players averaging double figures (Joel Wright 16.4 ppg, Matt Staff 11.6 ppg) ... Corey Stern helped lead Texas State to the victory at UTSA ... Stern had a career-high night offensively and defensive, as he scored 18 points and grabbed 13 rebounds ... the double-double was the first of his career ... Stern was nearly perfect from the floor, missing just one shot (5-for-6), in addition to knocking down eight free throws ... he also scored the first and the last bucket in overtime to help the Bobcats clinch the victory ... Texas State plays at Idaho on Thursday before playing at Seattle U on Saturday.
Utah State Aggies (14-3, 5-2 WAC)
Utah State went 0-2 last week with road losses at New Mexico State and Denver ... New Mexico State ended Utah State’s win streak at 13 games with a 64-51 win over the Aggies ... in scoring a season-low 51 points, USU shot just 39.3 percent (22-of-56) from the field, hitting 6-of-14 (42.9 percent) from three-point range, as well as a season-low 1-of-4 (25.0 percent) at the free throw line .... USU was led by junior guard Preston Medlin with 14 points ... Utah State was short-handed without two injured starters and came up on the short-end of a 68-57 score at Denver ... Utah State was led by junior guard Marvin Jean’s career-high 14 points, hitting a career-high four three-pointers, topping his previous season-high scoring output of eight points which he had done four previous times ... USU returns home to host UT Arlington and Louisiana Tech this week.