This Week in WAC Men's Basketball - Feb. 5
NEW MEXICO STATE’S SY NAMED WAC PLAYER OF THE WEEK
New Mexico State’s Bandja Sy has been named the Western Athletic Conference Men’s Basketball Player of the Week for the week of Jan. 28-Feb. 3.
Sy, a senior forward from Cergy, France (Stoneridge Prep), led New Mexico State to a pair of road wins at Texas State and UTSA. In the 86-72 win over Texas State, Sy posted his third double-double of the season and the fourth of his career with 24 points and 13 rebounds. He made his first six shots from the field and scored 14 of the Aggies’ first 16 points. It marked Sy’s third 20-plus point game of the year. He hit 9-of-11 shots from the field, including a 2-of-2 mark from long range. He also hit 4-of-5 shots from the charity stripe against the Bobcats. In the 75-62 win at UTSA, Sy scored 17 points and pulled down seven rebounds. He connected on 8-of-12 shots from the field and recorded three assists, a blocked shot and a steal.
On the week, Sy averaged 20.5 points, 10.0 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game. He shot 73.9 percent (17-of-23) from the field, 100 percent (2-of-2) from three-point range and 62.5 percent (5-of-8) from the free throw line. Sy recorded five assists, one block and a steal over the two games.
Other nominees included: Denver sophomore guard Brett Olson averaged 19.0 points and 3.5 assists in two road wins … Texas State junior forward Joel Wright averaged 23.5 points and 9.0 rebounds over two games … Utah State junior center Jarred Shaw averaged 21.5 points and 8.0 rebounds in a pair of road wins.
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
WAC BRACKETBUSTERS MATCHUPS SET
ESPNU announced the matchups for the 11th Ramada Worldwide BracketBusters – a two-day men’s college basketball event pitting potential NCAA Championship hopefuls against each other Friday, Feb. 22 and Saturday, Feb. 23 – on the Ramada Worldwide BracketBusters Selection Show. The WAC received one of the 13 featured games. Denver will travel to play Northern Iowa on Saturday, Feb. 23 at 7 p.m. CT. The game will be broadcast on ESPN3. The Ramada Worldwide BracketBusters field will feature 13 nationally televised games across ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU and ESPN3, selected from 122 eligible teams. ESPN2 will have a minimum of three BracketBusters games (an additional two games are designated as flex picks for either ESPN or ESPN2 determined approximately one week before the games) and ESPNU and ESPN3 will each host four games.
Saturday, Feb. 23
Denver at Northern Iowa, 7 p.m. CT (ESPN3)
The other five WAC teams that were not selected to compete in a BracketBusters television game will play non-conference opponents on Saturday, Feb. 23. Those matchups are as follows:
WAC Non-TV Matchups (Saturday, Feb. 23)
Illinois State at Utah State, 7 p.m. MT
UC Irvine at UT Arlington, 5:00 p.m. CT
Nicholls State at UTSA, TBA
Idaho at Idaho State, 2:00 p.m. MT
Texas State at Lamar, TBA
LOUISIANA TECH RECEIVING VOTES IN NATIONAL POLLS
Louisiana Tech is receiving 24 votes in the AP Top-25 poll and six votes in the USA Today Coaches Poll. If the polls extended, LA Tech would be ranked 33rd in the AP Poll and 37th in the coaches poll. LA Tech also rocketed to No. 10 in this week’s Collegeinsider.com mid-major top-25 poll.
WAC RPI ON THE RISE
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. 76, while Denver rounds out the top three at No. 106.
WAC TEAMS/PLAYERS AMONG NATIONAL STAT LEADERS
As of Feb. 3, teams from the WAC rank in the top-10 nationally in five team statistical categories and two individual categories. Louisiana Tech holds the highest team mark as the Bulldogs rank fifth nationally wity a 5.2 turnover margin. Denver ranks seventh in the nation in scoring defense at 55.2. Individually, Louisiana Tech’s Michale Kyser holds the highest individual mark as he ranks seventh in the nation in blocks per game at 3.32. Idaho’s Connor Hill ranks eighth in the nation in three-point field goal percentage at 45.7. Idaho senior center Kyle Barone ranks 11th nationally with 11 double-doubles. Barone also ranks 13th in the nation in field goal percentage at 58.5.
WAC TEAM-BY-TEAM NOTES
Denver Pioneers (13-8, 9-2 WAC)
The Pioneers return home to host Seattle U on Thursday and Idaho on Saturday ... with 330 assists this season, Denver has 82.3 percent more assists than their opponents (181), and every one of Denver’s top nine players has a positive assist/turnover ratio ... in WAC play, the Pioneers have 125.9 percent more assists as their opponents at 183-81 ... all five starters averaged at least 10 points in DU’s pair of road wins last week, including Brett Olson who recorded team highs, including a career-high 22 points in addition to a career-high with seven assists at Texas State on Feb. 2 ... through 11 WAC games, Olson has a 3.30 assist/turnover ratio, the best mark in the league by 1.12 ... Chase Hallam was voted to the Capital One Academic All-District 7 Team for the third-straight year ... Hallam, an accounting major with a 3.9 cumulative GPA, has earned Academic All-District every year he has been eligible.
Idaho Vandals (9-12, 5-6 WAC)
Idaho went 1-1 last week ... the Vandals dropped a 77-67 decision at home against Utah state before defeating San Jose State 66-63 ... versus Utah State, sophomore guard Connor Hill and junior guard Stephen Madison tied for the Idaho lead with 14 points apiece, while junior guard Robert Harris added 13 points and senior center Kyle Barone scored 11 points and grabbed seven rebounds while dealing with foul trouble a large portion of the game ... in the win over SJSU, Hill led all players with 19 points on 4-of-10 overall shooting, including 4-of-8 from long range, and a perfect 7-of-7 performance at the free throw line ... Barone tallied his eighth double-double in WAC play and his 11th overall this season with 15 points and 12 rebounds, along with three assists ... this week, Idaho heads out on the road to take on New Mexico State and Denver.
Louisiana Tech Bulldogs (19-3, 10-0 WAC)
Louisiana Tech went 1-0 last week with a 64-51 win at home over UT Arlington ... Raheem Appleby netted a team-high 15 points in the win over the Mavericks ... Cordarius Johnson also scored in double digits adding 12 points along with a career-high four steals ... three different Bulldogs had at least two blocks led by Michale Kyser who registered four rejections ... under head coach Michael White, the Bulldogs are a perfect 14-0 when holding their opponent to less than 60 points after holding UT Arlington to just 51 on Saturday night ... the Bulldogs extended their winning streak to 11 games, the longest winning streak for LA Tech since 1985 ... LA Tech forced 20 turnovers ... it was the ninth time this season they have forced at least 20 in a game ... Louisiana Tech looks to keep its perfect WAC record in tact this week as the Bulldogs host UTSA on Thursday and Texas State on Saturday.
New Mexico State Aggies (15-8, 9-2 WAC)
NM State opened its WAC road trip to the Lone Star State with an 86-72 win at Texas State, Jan. 31 in San Marcos, Texas ... senior forward Bandja Sy posted his third double-double of the season with 24 points and 13 rebounds ... sophomore guard Daniel Mullings provided 22 points, and freshman center Sim Bhullar added 10 points ... sophomore forward Remi Barry also scored 10 points, which is a career-high mark ... the Aggies won their ninth consecutive game with a 75-62 victory at UTSA, Feb. 2 in San Antonio, Texas ... the Aggies tied the school record for blocked shots with 12 ... Bhullar recorded his first career double-double with 17 points and a career-high 18 rebounds and five blocked shots ... Sy also scored 17 points on 8-of-12 shooting ... NM State continues play this week at home against Idaho and Seattle U.
San Jose State Spartans (9-13, 3-8 WAC)
San Jose State went 0-2 on the road last week ... the Spartans dropped a 56-48 decision at Seattle U before falling 66-63 at Idaho ... at Seattle U, Chris Cunningham recorded his seventh double-double of the season ... for the second consecutive game, Cunningham scored in double figures and grabbed double-digit rebounds ... he led the team with 12 points and 11 rebounds ... Cunningham made 8-of-10 free throw shots but was just 2-for-6 from the field ... at Idaho, D.J. Brown scored 18 points, and Cunningham grabbed 18 rebounds ... Brown came off the bench to score in double figures for the ninth time this season ... Cunningham tied his season-high with 18 rebounds, nine offensive and nine defensive ... San Jose State continues play this week at home against Utah State on Friday.
Seattle U Redhawks (7-14, 2-9 WAC)
Seattle University started the second half of the conference season with a hard-fought 56-48 victory over San Jose State Thursday night at KeyArena ... it was Seattle U’s first Division I home conference victory since Feb. 12, 1980 ... the Redhawks held the Spartans to 30.6 percent shooting from the field and forced 19 turnovers that led to 19 Seattle U points ... Prince Obasi scored a career-high 19 points, plus he earned five rebounds and four assists ... Louis Green contributed 13 points, seven rebounds, and four blocked shots in the victory ... Saturday, nothing went right for Seattle U on Homecoming, as Utah State controlled the vast majority of the game on its way to a 68-46 victory ... Chad Rasmussen was the only Redhawk to reach double figures in scoring, finishing with 10 points ... Seattle U hits the road to face Denver (Feb. 7) and New Mexico State (Feb. 9) next weekend.
UT Arlington Mavericks (10-9, 5-5 WAC)
UT Arlington went 0-1 last week with a 64-51 setback at WAC leader Louisiana Tech ... the loss snapped UT Arlington’s two-game WAC winning streak ... UTA lost for the first time on the road (4-1) in the WAC this season ... junior forward Brandon Edwards paced UT Arlington with 17 points and nine rebounds ... junior forward Greg Gainey added 10 points ... the Mavericks shot 36 percent and committed 20 turnovers ... UT Arlington shot only 40 percent in the opening half, but outrebounded LA Tech 20-19 and enjoyed a 16-10 edge in points in the paint ... Edwards had 10 points and five boards at the break ... the Mavs return home next week for a two-game WAC stand against Texas State (Thursday) and UTSA (Saturday) ... both games are at College Park Center with tipoff set for 7 p.m. ... UT Arlington beat both squads last month on the road.
UTSA Roadrunners (5-16, 1-10 WAC)
UTSA fell to 1-10 in the WAC with a pair of losses to Denver (71-57) and New Mexico State (75-62) last week … the Roadrunners continue a tough stretch of facing the top three teams in the league standings when they play at league leader Louisiana Tech (10-0) on Thursday night in Ruston … The Bulldogs used a late 3-pointer by Kenyon McNeail to slip past UTSA, 73-71, in the first meeting on Jan. 12 … the Roadrunners are 4-9 away from home this season … senior guard Kannon Burrage continues to lead the WAC in scoring (18.0 ppg) after averaging 18.5 last week … senior point guard Michael Hale III ranks fifth in the league in scoring (16.2 ppg), making UTSA the only team with two players in the top five … Hale ranks in the WAC top 10 in seven different statistical categories.
Texas State Bobcats (7-16, 3-8 WAC)
Texas State dropped a pair of victories at home last week. The Bobcats were led by junior forward Joel Wright who averaged 23.5 points per game ... Joel Wright scored 14 points and grabbed six rebounds in the loss to New Mexico State ... Wright finished 8-of-11 from the free throw line ... he scored 33 points versus Denver to become the only player in the WAC this season to score 30-plus points in a game twice this year ... he went 9-for-18 from the floor and 14-of-18 from the free throw line, in addition ¬to tying his career-high of 12 rebounds ... Wright registered his fourth double-double of the season ... the Bobcats rank second in the league in scoring at 71.3 ppg, and tenth in scoring defense at 76.9 ppg ... Texas State continues play this week at UT Arlington on Thursday and at Louisiana Tech Saturday.
Utah State Aggies (16-5, 7-4 WAC)
Utah State went 2-0 on the road last week ... the Aggies defeated Idaho 77-67 before taking down Seattle U 68-46 ... junior center Jarred Shaw averaged nearly a double-double with 21.5 points and 8.0 rebounds per game in Utah State’s pair of road wins ... in the Idaho game, Shaw netted a career-high 27 points, the most by a USU player this season, and also posted nine rebounds, one block, one steal and one assist, tallying a career-high 12-of-15 (.800) field goals, adding a perfect 3-of-3 at the free throw line. ... in Saturday’s win at Seattle, the Aggies’ first win there since 1975, Shaw recorded a game-high 16 points and added seven rebounds and one block, tallying 8-of-11 (.727) from the field ... the Aggies return to the road on Friday to face San Jose State in the team’s only game of the week.