This Week in WAC Men's Basketball - Feb. 12
UTAH STATE’S BUTTERFIELD NAMED WAC PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Utah State’s Spencer Butterfield has been named the Western Athletic Conference Men’s Basketball Player of the Week for the week of Feb. 4-10.
Butterfield, a junior forward from Loomis, Calif. (Del Oro HS/Yuba CC), posted his fifth-straight double-double with game highs of 22 points and 10 rebounds to lead USU to its 63-36 road at San Jose State on Friday. He also added one steal and one assist in the victory. Butterfield averaged 10.6 points and 5.8 rebounds per game heading into Wednesday’s matchup with San Jose State.
Butterfield’s 22 points were one shy of his season-high 23 points, and came off a season-high nine made field goals on 9-of-11 shooting, including 3-of-3 from three-point range. He nearly had a double-double in the first half with 13 points and seven rebounds, nearly single-handedly matching SJSU’s 16 points and 11 rebounds in the first 20 minutes. During USU’s 25-2 run that broke the game open in the first half, Butterfield started the spurt with a three-pointer and later netted six of the last nine points in the streak for USU’s 31-11 lead.
Other nominees included: Denver junior Chris Udofia averaged 18.0 points in a pair of wins … Louisiana Tech junior Chris Anderson averaged 9.5 points and 10.0 rebounds in two wins … New Mexico State freshman Sim Bhullar averaged 17.0 points and 7.0 rebounds in a pair of victories … UT Arlington senior Kevin Butler averaged 19.0 points over two 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, 2:00 p.m. CT
Idaho at Idaho State, 2:00 p.m. MT
Texas State at Lamar, 6:00 p.m. CT
LOUISIANA TECH RECEIVING VOTES IN NATIONAL POLLS
Louisiana Tech is receiving 43 votes in the AP Top-25 poll and 18 votes in the USA Today Coaches Poll. If the polls extended, LA Tech would be ranked 32nd in the AP Poll and 34th in the coaches poll. LA Tech also moved up to No. 9 in this week’s Collegeinsider.com mid-major top-25 poll. New Mexico State entered the poll at No. 25 this week.
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. 78, while Denver rounds out the top three at No. 109.
WAC TEAMS/PLAYERS AMONG NATIONAL STAT LEADERS
As of Feb. 10, teams from the WAC rank in the top-10 nationally in five team statistical categories and two individual categories. UT Arlington holds the highest team national ranking as the Mavericks ranks third nationally in field goal percentage defense at 36.4. Individually, Idaho’s Connor Hill holds the highest national ranking as he ranks fifth in the nation in three-point field goal percentage at 46.3 percent.
WAC TEAM-BY-TEAM NOTES
Denver Pioneers (15-8, 11-2 WAC)
The Pioneers take their final WAC road trip this week, playing at Utah State on Thursday and San Jose State on Saturday ... DU’s defense continues to dominate, as the Pioneers set a new team record with 22 steals against Seattle U on Feb. 7, surpassing the previous high of 18 set against Rockmont on Feb. 10, 1982 ... in that game alone, the Pioneers jumped from No. 65 to No. 28 in the nation in steals per game (currently 9.0 per game) ... senior Chase Hallam had eight of DU’s steals against Seattle U on Feb. 7, breaking the team’s NCAA Division I single-game record and the Magness Arena record ... freshman Jalen Love scored a career-high 22 points off 9-of-10 shooting and 3-of-4 from three-point range against Idaho on Feb. 9 ... the Pioneers, who are tied for second in the WAC and 1.5 games behind Louisiana Tech, have already clinched a first round bye in the WAC Tournament.
Idaho Vandals (9-14, 5-8 WAC)
The Vandals went 0-2 last week with losses the road to New Mexico State (76-74) and Denver (74-58) ... in the loss at NM State, Idaho missed three shots in the final seconds before senior center Kyle Barone’s tip-in that couldn’t beat the buzzer ... Idaho had trailed the Aggies by 11 points with six minutes to play and battled back to tie the game on a Connor Hill 3-pointer with one minute left ... Barone notched his sixth 20-point game of the season with 26 ... Hill notched a career-high 21 points ... at Denver, Mike McChristian and Stephen Madison matched 14-point nights, with Habeeb Mansa adding nine ... Barone, Idaho’s leading scorer, had eight points and did not score until the second half ... Idaho returns home this week to host UT Arlington on Thursday before welcoming Louisiana Tech on Saturday.
Louisiana Tech Bulldogs (21-3, 12-0 WAC)
Louisiana Tech went 2-0 last week with wins over UTSA and Texas State ... LA Tech picked up win No. 20 with a 74-49 win over UTSA, marking the earliest in a season that a Bulldog team has ever won 20 games ... the Bulldogs extended their win streak to 13 games with the two wins last week, tying for the second-longest win streak in LA Tech history ... Chris Anderson shot 46.7 percent from the field over the two games and averaged 9.5 points and 10 rebounds per game ... the junior college transfer started both games and set new single game career highs in points (11), rebounds (13), blocks (3) and steals (3) ... this week, LA Tech continues play on the road as the team travels to play Seattle U on Thursday and Idaho on Saturday.
New Mexico State Aggies (17-8, 11-2 WAC)
Daniel Mullings sank two free throws with 14 seconds left in regulation to beat Idaho, 76-74, Feb. 7 ... Mullings scored seven points and had four assists in 40 minutes of action ... Sim Bhullar led the Aggies in scoring with 20 points on an 8-of-8 performance from the field ... Terrel de Rouen had a career-high 12 points and a steal in the final 16 seconds of the game that set up the Mullings free throws ... NM State fought off Seattle U for a 60-57 win for its 11th straight victory, Feb. 9 ... Mullings had a game-high 18 points, and Bhullar recorded a near double-double with 14 points and nine rebounds ... Bandja Sy added nine points, and Renaldo Dixon supplied eight ... New Mexico State heads out on the road this week with games at San Jose State on Thursday and at Utah State on Saturday on ESPNU.
San Jose State Spartans (9-14, 3-9 WAC)
San Jose State dropped a 63-36 decision at home to Utah State last week ... San Jose State scored a season low in its eighth loss in a row ... the Spartans shooting problems continued ... for the 11th game in a row, the Spartans failed to convert 50 percent of their field goal tries with its 26.5 field goal percentage ... D.J. Brown led San Jose State in scoring with 16 points ... forward Chris Cunningham added 10 and a team-best nine rebounds ... Utah State shot 51.9 percent from the field and 47.1 percent from three-point range. The Aggies also had a decided rebounding advantage, 38-24 ... Coach Nessman also announced that guard James Kinney is supended for the remainder of the season. Kinney played in 14 of the first 15 games and was averaging 20.6 points a game ... SJSU continues play this week at home against New Mexico State on Thursday and Denver on Saturday.
Seattle U Redhawks (7-16, 2-11 WAC)
Seattle U lost road games at Denver (72-55) and at New Mexico State (60-57) ... the Redhawks shot 55.6 percent from the field and 85.7 percent from the free throw line against Denver, but 26 turnovers led to 31 Pioneer points ... Luiz Bidart led the Redhawks with a season-high 14 points on 4-of-5 shooting from the field, including 3-of-3 from behind the three-point line, and 3-of-3 from the free throw line ... Jack Crook also enjoyed a solid game off the bench with eight points and five rebounds ... Saturday night, Seattle U stuck with NM State throughout the contest and had a chance to tie it at the end of regulation, but a three-point attempt by Jarell Flora was off target ... Deshaun Sunderhaus led Seattle U with 14 points ... Seattle U plays its final two games of the regular season at KeyArena next weekend, welcoming WAC leader Louisiana Tech on Valentine’s Day, Feb. 14, and UT Arlington on Senior Night, Feb. 16.
UT Arlington Mavericks (12-9, 7-5 WAC)
UT Arlington went 2-0 last week ... the Mavs defeated Texas State 75-50 before downing UTSA 68-63 ... Kevin Butler scored a season-high 21to lead UT Arlington to the win over UTSA ... the Mavericks were deadly from deep, knocking down 9-of-18 3-pointers ... Butler drilled four 3-pointers, while Karol Gruszecki (12 points) and Jamel Outler each knocked down a pair ... Brandon Edwards grabbed 11 rebounds and Jordan Reves pulled down 10 ... Kevin Butler scored 17 to lead UT Arlington to a 68-63 victory over UTSA ... Greg Gainey added 13 points and eight rebounds ... Jordan Reves had 13 boards and eight points in his first start since Jan. 19 ... Shaquille White-Miller scored 13 ... UT Arlington hits the road next week with games at Idaho on Thursday and Saturday.
UTSA Roadrunners (5-18, 1-12 WAC)
UTSA fell to 1-12 in the WAC with a pair of road setbacks at league-leader Louisiana Tech (74-49) and UT Arlington (68-63) last week … the Roadrunners are 4-11 away from home this season … senior guard Kannon Burrage continues to lead the WAC in scoring (18.0 ppg) after averaging 18.5 points and 2.5 3-pointers per game last week … senior point guard Michael Hale III ranks fourth in the league in scoring (16.0 ppg), making UTSA the only team with two players in the top five … Hale ranks in the WAC top 10 in eight different statistical categories … junior forward Jeromie Hill made his return to the court against Louisiana Tech on Feb. 7 after missing the last six games with a knee injury and he averaged 8.5 points and 4.5 rebounds in the two contests last week.
Texas State Bobcats (7-18, 3-10 WAC)
Texas State went 0-2 last week on the road ... the team dropped a 75-50 decision at UT Arlington before falling 84-69 at league-leader Louisiana Tech ... Texas State recorded a season-low 12 made field goals in the loss to UTA ... Reid Koenen and Corey Stern led the Bobcats’ offense as Koenen recorded 12 points, while Stern chipped in eight ... Texas State shot 22.6 percent from the floor and 64.7 from the charity stripe ... despite leading for the majority of the first half, Texas State was unable to pull out the win over conference-leading Louisiana Tech ... four Bobcats finished in double figures ... Joel Wright had a team-high 13 points, while Reid Koenen chipped in 12 points ... Wesley Davis and Basil Brown had 11 points apiece ... Texas State shot 38.7 percent (24-62) from the floor and 52.0 percent (13-25) from the free throw line ... the Bobcats host UTSA on Saturday.
Utah State Aggies (17-5, 8-4 WAC)
Behind a smothering defensive effort for the second-straight game, a 16-0 run in the first half and Spencer Butterfield’s fifth double-double in a row, Utah State’s men’s basketball speared the Spartans of San Jose State Friday night by a palindromic 63-36 score at the Event Center at SJSU ... the win was USU’s third in a row, all on the road ... USU has won its last five at San Jose, winning the last 12 overall match-ups to improve to 51-21 all-time against San Jose State in Utah State’s sixth-oldest rivalry in school history ... Butterfield tallied game highs of 22 points and 10 rebounds, including posting 13 points and seven rebounds in the first half ... the junior sharpshooter also hit three three-pointers Friday for the second-straight game and his 10th multi-three-pointer game ... Jarred Shaw and Marcel Davis tallied 12 points apiece ... Utah State returns home to host Denver on Thursday and NM State on Saturday on ESPNU.