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This Week in WAC Men's Basketball - Jan. 29
Courtesy: WAC

Texas State’s Joel Wright has been named the Western Athletic Conference Men’s Basketball Player of the Week for the week of Jan. 21-27.

Wright, a junior forward from Brooklyn, N.Y. (Thomas Jefferson HS), led Texas State to a weekend road sweep over Idaho and Seattle U. In the 78-73 win at Idaho, Wright came off the bench to score a WAC season-high 37 points, 24 of which he scored in the second half. He hit 12 of his 20 shots from the field and went 12-of-15 from the free throw line. Wright also tallied six rebounds, five assists and five steals in the 17-point comeback victory. Wright scored 15 of Texas State’s final 22 points to lift the Bobcats to the win
Wright backed up his career night with a 19-point, nine-rebound effort in an 86-83 win at Seattle U. He also collected three steals in the 12-point comeback win. He made a pair of free throws to score Texas State’s final two points to help secure the win. The win gave Texas State its third straight win after breaking a nine-game losing streak.

On the week, Wright averaged 28.0 points, 7.5 rebounds, 4.0 steals and 2.5 assists per game. He shot 48.6 percent (18-of-37) from the field and 81.0 percent (17-of-21) from the free throw line. Olson recorded eight steals, five assists and one block over the two games.

Other nominees included: Idaho senior center Kyle Barone averaged 26.0 points and 16.0 rebounds as Idaho went 1-1 … Louisiana Tech sophomore guard Kenneth Smith tallied 10 assists with six rebounds in a win at Utah State … New Mexico State senior forward Tyrone Watson scored 12 points with six rebounds in a win over Denver … Seattle U freshman forward Deshaun Sunderhaus averaged 16.5 points and 8.5 rebounds over two games … UTSA senior guard Michael Hale III scored a career-high 35 points in a win at Seattle U … Utah State junior guard/forward Spencer Butterfield averaged a double-double with 19.5 points and 13.0 rebounds over two games last week.


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

Texas State, UT Arlington and Louisiana Tech each went a perfect 2-0 last week. Texas State won a pair of road games, defeating Idaho (78-73) and Seattle U (86-83). Joel Wright led the Bobcats, averaging 28.0 points and 7.5 rebounds in the two victories. UT Arlington also won two road games, defeating (Utah State (74-68) and San Jose State (66-47). Greg Gainey led the Mavs, averaging 13.5 points and 7.5 rebounds during the two games. Louisiana Tech also claimed a pair of road wins in a 76-54 win at San Jose State and a 51-48 victory at Utah State. Brandon Gibson hit eight threes over the two games for the Bulldogs. New Mexico State defeated Denver 53-42 on ESPNU Wednesday night in the two teams lone contest of the week. Tyrone Watson led the Aggies with 12 points and six rebounds. UTSA and Idaho each went 1-1. UTSA defeated Seattle U 78-75 before falling to Idaho. Idaho dropped a 78-73 decision to Texas State before defeating UTSA 74-70.


Louisiana Tech is receiving eight votes in the AP Top-25 poll and one vote in the USA Today Coaches Poll. If the polls extended, LA Tech would be ranked 33rd in the AP Poll and 42nd in the coaches poll. LA Tech also rocketed to No. 11 in this week’s Collegeinsider.com mid-major top-25 poll.

After beginning the season with a conference RPI in the mid-20s, the WAC’s league RPI has risen to No. 13. The WAC is sandwiched between No. 12 Horizon League and No. 14 Sun Belt. Louisiana Tech holds the league’s top individual RPI at No. 42. New Mexico State is No. 78, while Denver rounds out the top three at No. 123.

As of Jan. 27, teams from the WAC rank in the top-15 nationally in five team statistical categories and four individual categories. Louisiana Tech holds the highest national team rank in the WAC as the team ranks sixth in turnover margin at 5.1. Denver ranks seventh in scoring defense at 54.6. UT Arlington ranks eighth in field goal percentage defense at 37.2. LA Tech ranks 13th in win-loss percentage at 85.7 and Utah State ranks 15th in rebound margin at 8.3. Individually, LA Tech’s Michale Kyser ranks seventh nationally in blocks per game at 3.29. Idaho’s Kyle Barone ranks 10th in the nation in field goal percentage at 59.2 percent. H ealso ranks 12th with 10 double-doubles. Idaho’s Connor Hill ranks 13th in three point field goal percenrage at 44.7 percent.

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.


Denver Pioneers (11-8, 7-2 WAC)
The Pioneers returns to the road to take on Texas-San Antonio on Thursday and Texas State on Saturday. Early this season at Magness Arena, Denver beat the Roadrunners 75-50 on Jan. 6 and the Bobcats 64-53 in the only previous meetings with the two teams. Junior Chris Udofia (Irving, Texas) tied a career high with six blocks at New Mexico State on Jan. 23. The 6-foot-6 Udofia has 46 blocked shots this season, which is tied with Dwayne Russell (1980-81) for the ninth highest single-season total in DU history. Sophomore Royce O’Neale (Killeen, Texas) pulled down 10 rebounds against New Mexico State. It marked the fourth time in the past six games that O’Neale hit double digits in rebounding. Sophomore guard Brett Olson (Highlands Ranch, Colo.) was named WAC Player of the Week for Jan. 14-21 after scoring 15 points against San Jose State and a season-high 18 against Utah State.

Idaho Vandals (8-11, 4-5 WAC)
Idaho earned a home split last week with a narrow loss to Texas State, then a 74-70 victory over UTSA … Idaho shot 52 percent from the floor in its 74-70 win over UTSA … Idaho’s 38-24 rebounding margin on Saturday against UTSA marked the team’s sixth game this year with a plus-10 or better rebounding margin ... Kyle Barone scored a career-high 27 points on 8-of-10 shooting, along with 16 rebounds … he also matched his career best with an 11-of-12 free throw effort in the game … in Saturday’s win over UTSA, he broke an Idaho school record with a 10-of-10 shooting performance from the field, which is tied as the second-best in the NCAA this season and is the best individual shooting performance by a WAC player since 2009 … his 25 points and 16 rebounds in the game gave him his fifth 20-10 game of the season and his WAC-leading 10th double-double of the year.

Louisiana Tech Bulldogs (18-3, 9-0 WAC)
LA Tech won for the first time ever at the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum in Logan, Utah. The team held a 0-7 record in Logan before winning this past week ... the Bulldogs extend their winning streak to 10 games, tied for the fifth longest in program history ... with the two wins, the Bulldogs have now won six straight road games (not including neutral site games) which is only the second time in program history. The only other time was in 1972 ... Kenneth Smith anchored a defense that only allowed an average of 51 points by the opponent, including Utah State’s season-low output of 48 ... Smith’s 10 assists was a season-high ... Louisiana Tech returns home to host UT Arlington on Saturday.

New Mexico State Aggies (13-8, 7-2 WAC)
The Aggies beat Denver, 53-42, to extend its winning streak to seven games ... the Aggies halted the Pioneers’ win streak at seven games ... the win marked the Crimson and White’s longest win streak since the 2006-07 season ... NM State had three players in double figures with senior forward Tyrone Watson leading the way with 12 points and six rebounds ... sophomore guard Daniel Mullings added 11 points and eight rebounds, while senior forward Bandja Sy supplied 10 points and eight rebounds ... the Crimson and White defense harassed Denver and held the Pioneers to 3-of-18 shooting from the 3-point line (13.7 percent). Denver averaged a league-best 8.39 3-pointers per game entering the contest ... NM State continues play this week at Texas State and at UTSA.

San Jose State Spartans (9-11, 3-6 WAC)
San Jose State enters the week with a 9-10 overall record and a 3-6 conference mark ... the team has lost five consecutive WAC games heading into Thursday night’s game at Seattle U ... the Spartans fell to UT Arlington, 66-47, as Chris Cunningham recorded his sixth double-double of the season with 13 points and 10 rebounds ... the team also dropped a 76-54 decision at home to WAC-leader Louisiana Tech last Thursday ... versus LA Tech, Aalim Moor came off the San Jose State bench and led the team in scoring with a career-high 14 points ... he was 6-for-12 from the field and dished out a career-best four assists in 17 minutes of action.

Seattle U Redhawks (6-13, 1-8 WAC)
Hoping to gain some momentum heading into the second half of the conference schedule, Seattle U instead dropped two home games, losing to UTSA (78-75) and Texas State (86-83) at KeyArena ... against UTSA, Deshaun Sunderhaus led the team with 16 points, while D’Vonne Pickett Jr. finished with 14 points, seven rebounds, six assists, and five steals ... Saturday against Texas State, Clarence Trent scored a career-high 22 points on 10-of-19 shooting from the field, and Sunderhaus notched his fourth double-double of the season with 17 points and 12 rebounds ... for the second time in three games, Prince Obasi dished out 11 assists ... Seattle U’s eight WAC losses have been by an average of six points, including four losses by five or fewer points ... Seattle U hosts San Jose State Thursday and Utah State Saturday at KeyArena. 

UT Arlington Mavericks (10-8, 5-4 WAC)
UT Arlington went 2-0 on the road last week ... the Mavericks defeated Utah State 74-68 in Logan before traveling to San Jose to beat the Spartans 66-47 ... in the win at Utah State, Karol Gruszecki scored 14 to lead five players in double figures ... Cameron Catlett and Brandon Edwards each scored 13, with Shaquille White-Miller adding 11 and Greg Gainey chipping in 10 ... at San Jose State, Gainey scored a career-high 17 points in his second career start at UTA, while senior forward Kevin Butler added 13 points and 10 rebounds off the bench ... White-Miller scored 12 and senior center Jordan Reves tied his season high with six blocks ... the Mavericks return to WAC play Feb. 2 at conference leader Louisiana Tech ... the Bulldogs beat UT Arlington 55-52 at College Park Center on Jan. 5.

UTSA Roadrunners (5-14, 1-8 WAC)
UTSA picked up the program’s first-ever WAC victory with a 78-75 win at Seattle U on Thursday … the Roadrunners also snapped a seven-game losing streak in winning for the first time in more than a month (Dec. 21) …  UTSA rattled home a season-high 13 3-pointers in the narrow 74-70 setback at Idaho on Saturday … the Roadrunners are second in the league behind Denver (8.1) with 7.9 3-pointers per contest … UTSA is shooting 77.9 percent (88-113) at the free-throw line over the last five games … the Roadrunners have played 13 away games in 11 different states and four time zones this season … senior point guard Michael Hale III is averaging 29 points per game over the last three contests, including a career-high 35 points in the Seattle U victory … senior guard Kannon Burrage leads the WAC in scoring (17.9 ppg), pg) ... UTSA is the only league team with three players ranking in the top-10 in scoring.

Texas State Bobcats (7-14, 3-6 WAC)
Texas State continued its winning ways as it grabbed its second and third straight victories; both coming on the road ... the Bobcats fell behind in both games this week, but staged a comeback to jump into eighth place in the WAC ... Texas State is shooting 71.6 percent from the floor and .694 from the free throw line ... Joel Wright (17.5 ppg, 6.6 rpg) and Matt Staff (11.0 ppg, 5.4 rpg) lead the Bobcats, with junior Reid Koenen improving his game week-by-week at 8.6 points per game ... Joel Wright came off the bench in both contests to help lead Texas State to a pair of come from behind road victories, scoring a WAC season-high 37 points (12-20 FG), 24 of them came in the second half at Idaho ... Wright backed up his 37-point performance with 19 points, nine rebounds, and three steals in a 12-point comeback victory at Seattle U ... Texas State hosts New Mexico State and Denver this week.

Utah State Aggies (14-5, 5-4 WAC)
Utah State went 0-2 at home last week ... the Aggies dropped a 74-68 decision to UT Arlington before falling 51-48 to WAC leader Louisiana Tech ... junior guard/forward Spencer Butterfield averaged a double-double with 19.5 points and 13.0 rebounds per game in Utah State’s two losses, netting a career-high 23 points and added a then-career-best 11 rebounds for his first-ever double-double in the loss to UTA, then logged his second-straight double-double with 16 points and new career-high 15 rebounds in the LA Tech loss ... Utah State returns to play this week, traveling to Idaho on Thursday before heading to play Seattle U on Saturday.
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