This Week in WAC Men's Basketball - Feb. 19
UTAH STATE’S BUTTERFIELD NAMED WAC PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Denver’s Chris Udofia has been named the Western Athletic Conference Men’s Basketball Player of the Week for the week of Feb. 11-17.
Udofia, a junior forward from Irving, Texas (Jesuit Prep), continued his well-balanced offensive and defensive play in DU’s road sweep over Utah State and San Jose State last week. He recorded five assists, five rebounds and a blocked shot in each game. He scored 10 points on 4-of-5 shooting, including a 1-of-1 mark from three-point range in a 63-60 overtime win at Utah State. Udofia recorded a team-high 13 points and career-high five steals in the 62-41 win at San Jose State. His assist-to-turnover ratio for the week was 3.3. He played a key role to Denver’s defense that limited its opponents to 60 and 41 points per game, improving their season average of 54.9, which is first in the WAC in sixth in the nation. Udofia became the 33rd player in DU history to eclipse 1,000-career points this past week.
On the week, Udofia averaged 11.5 points, 5.0 rebounds, 5.0 assists and 3.0 steals and 1.0 blocks per game. He shot 52.9 percent (9-of-17) from the field and 66.7 percent (2-of-3) from three-point range.
Other nominees included: Idaho senior Kyle Barone averaged 20.0 points and 9.0 rebounds over two games … Louisiana Tech sophomore guard Raheem Appleby scored 28 points with four rebounds in a win at Idaho … New Mexico State senior Bandja Sy averaged 12.5 points and 7.0 rebounds over a pair of games on the road … UT Arlington senior forward Kevin Butler connected on a perfect 7-for-7 threes to break the school record in a win over Idaho on the road … UTSA senior guard Michael Hale III averaged 15.5 points over two games … Utah State junior Jarred Shaw averaged 21.0 points and 8.5 rebounds in two games.
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 GAMES SET FOR SATURDAY
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 48 votes in the AP Top-25 poll and 12 votes in the USA Today Coaches Poll. If the polls extended, LA Tech would be ranked 28th in the AP Poll and 32nd in the coaches poll. LA Tech also moved up to No. 8 in this week’s Collegeinsider.com mid-major top-25 poll. Denver entered the poll at No. 21 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. 47. New Mexico State is No. 76, while Denver rounds out the top three at No. 90.
WAC TEAMS/PLAYERS AMONG NATIONAL STAT LEADERS
As of Feb. 17, teams from the WAC rank in the top-10 nationally in seven team statistical categories and two individual categories. Louisiana Tech ranks second in the nation in win-loss percentage at 88.5 percent. UT Arlington ranks fourth nationally in field goal percentage defense at 36.7. Individually, Idaho’s Connor Hill ranks seventh in the nation in three-point field goal percentage at 45.5 percent. Idaho’s Kyle Barone ranks eighth nationally in field goal percentage at 58.8 percent.
WAC TEAM-BY-TEAM NOTES
Denver Pioneers (17-8, 13-2 WAC)
The Pioneers take a short break from conference play to take part in the Ramada Worldwide ESPN BracketBusters this week ... Denver will travel to Northern Iowa for a game on Saturday night, which will air live on ESPN+ and ESPN3.com ... Chris Udofia became the 33rd Pioneer to score 1,000-career points during a 13-point performance at SJSU ... following last week’s road sweep, DU is in sole possession of second place, just 1.5 games behind Louisiana Tech, and DU’s final three conference games are at home, concluding with a matchup against the Bulldogs ... Denver wrapped up its WAC road schedule with a 7-2 record, the best league road record in team history ... The Pioneers have averaged 12.2 steals in their last six games, and senior Chase Hallam, who is first in the WAC and No. 20 in the nation with 2.28 steals per game, is just 14 steals shy of breaking DU’s all-time single-season record of 71 steals.
Idaho Vandals (9-16, 5-10 WAC)
Idaho fell in a pair of tight home games during the week … the Vandals missed four open looks in the final 90 seconds of a 71-68 loss to UT Arlington on Thursday, then committed three late turnovers in a 67-61 loss to Louisiana Tech … senior center Kyle Barone scored 40 points during the week to push his career total to 1,334 and move into Idaho’s all-time career top five in scoring … Barone averaged 20 points and nine rebounds during the week … he shot 70.6 percent from the floor and hit 84.2 percent of his free throws against Louisiana Tech and UT Arlington ... Idaho steps out of conference play to participate in the Ramada Worldwide BracketBusters event ... the Vandals will travel to play in-state rival Idaho State in Pocatello on Saturday, Feb. 23.
Louisiana Tech Bulldogs (23-3, 14-0 WAC)
Louisiana Tech remains a perfect 14-0 in WAC play, tying the program record for most conference wins in a season (2001-02) ... the Bulldogs extended their winning streak to 15 games, tying for the longest winning streak in program history ... the streak also includes eight consecutive road wins which breaks the previous school record of seven ... the Bulldogs are now 12-3 on the season in road games (including neutral sites) ... twelve wins ties Bucknell for the most road wins in the country ... Raheem Appleby led the Bulldogs last week in the two road wins over Seattle U (64-58) and Idaho (67-61) ... Appleby averaged 17.5 points per game in the two road wins while shooting a combined 50 percent from three-point range ... he scored 20+ points for the seventh time this season ... Louisiana Tech steps out of conference play to host Central Baptist this week.
New Mexico State Aggies (18-9, 12-3 WAC)
The Aggies’ 12-game winning streak was snapped with a 73-69 loss at Utah State, Feb. 16 ... NM State had four players in double-digits with Remi Barry scoring a career-high 15 points ... Barry was 6-of-9 from the field ... Bandja Sy added 12 points, while Terrel de Rouen and Daniel Mulling contributed 11 points each ... with the Aggies’ first block of the game, this year’s squad set the single-season record for blocked shots ... Sim Bhullar’s rejection gave NM State 142 blocks, which breaks the previous mark of 141 set during the 1994-95 season ... Bhullar needs only two blocks to set the school record for individual blocked shots in a single-season ... NM State won its 12th consecutive game with a 67-57 victory at San Jose State, Feb. 14 ... the Aggies had four players in double figures with Mullings leading the way with 15 points ... NM State will host rival UTEP on Saturday.
San Jose State Spartans (9-16, 3-11 WAC)
San Jose State went 0-2 last week at home ... the Spartans dropped a 67-57 decision to New Mexico State before falling 62-41 to Denver ... guard Xavier Jones scored a season-high 17 points, but San Jose State went scoreless for a 7:30 stretch from the end of the first half into the beginning of the second half in theloss to New Mexico State ... Chris Cunningham was San Jose State’s only other double-figure scorer with 11 points ... Denver forced 18 turnovers and limited the Spartans to 13 field goals in the loss to the Pioneers ... LaVanne Pennington came off the bench to lead San Jose State in scoring with eight points, all in the final five minutes ... San Jose State does not have a game scheduled this week.
Seattle U Redhawks (7-18, 2-13 WAC)
Seattle U closed out the home portion of the 2012-13 season with losses to WAC leader Louisiana Tech (64-58) and to UT Arlington (65-63) over the weekend ... in both games, the Redhawks held the lead halfway through the second half before allowing the visiting team to overtake them each night ... against Louisiana Tech, D’Vonne Pickett Jr. led Seattle U with 12 points, seven assists, and two steals, plus he pulled down five rebounds ... Clarence Trent notched his second double-double of the season with 10 points and 10 rebounds ... Jarell Flora shined against UT Arlington, scoring a career-high 18 points on 7-of-9 shooting from the field, including three straight three-pointers in the first half as part of a 17-1 scoring run ... the five seniors for Seattle U were honored before Saturday’s game in Senior Night ceremonies ... Seattle U is off until Thursday, Feb. 28, against Texas State.
UT Arlington Mavericks (14-9, 9-5 WAC)
UT Arlington went 2-0 on the road last week ... the Mavericks defeated Idaho 71-68 before downing Seattle U 65-63 ... Kevin Butler led a downtown barrage as UT Arlington held on to defeat Idaho Thursday night ... the Mavericks drilled nine 3-pointers, with seven coming from Butler ... Butler finished with a career-high 23 points on 8-of-8 shooting to lead the team in scoring for the third consecutive game ... the senior forward is averaging 20.3 points over that stretch on 61-percent shooting ... Jordan Reves nailed two free throws with 12.5 seconds left, lifting UT Arlington to the victory over Seattle U on Saturday night at Key Arena ... Reves finished with 11 points and 11 rebounds, his fifth double-double of the season ... Brandon Edwards also had a double-double with 12 points and 10 boards ... Butler led the Mavericks in scoring for the fourth consecutive game with 14 points ... UTA hosts UC Irvine in a BracketBuster game this week.
UTSA Roadrunners (6-19, 2-12 WAC)
UTSA snapped a six-game losing streak with the 73-62 road win against I-35 rival Texas State on Saturday … the win helped the Roadrunners improve to 32-23 all-time against the Bobcats in the second most-played series in school history … five Roadrunners scored in double figures, a first this season, led by 15 points from the WAC’s leading scorer Kannon Burrage … Edrico McGregor nearly posted his first double-double with a season-high-tying 10 points (4-of-5 shooting) and nine rebounds in just 21 minutes … UTSA is the only WAC team with three players in the top 10 in scoring: Kannon Burrage (1st/17.6), Michael Hale III (4th/16.0) and Jeromie Hill (9th/12.5) … Jeromie Hill, a junior forward from Cairns, Australia, ranks sixth in school history with 544 rebounds and 85 starts and 11th with 1,093 points … UTSA will host former Southland Conference foe Nicholls in the 11th annual Ramada Worldwide BracketBusters on Saturday, Feb. 23
Texas State Bobcats (7-19, 3-11 WAC)
Texas State went 0-1 at home last week with a 73-62 loss to UTSA ... three players finished in double figures against the Roadrunners ... senior forward Matt Staff led the team with 18 points, 13 rebounds and three blocked shots ... juniors Phil Hawkins and Joel Wright added 13 points apiece ... Texas State shot 37.9 percent from the field and 66.7 percent from the charity stripe ... Texas State left its 26-point deficit in the locker room as it came out in attack mode to start the second half ... the Bobcats left the jump shots behind and started attacking the rim ... the result was a 12-3 run to start the half sparked by Staff ... despite outscoring UTSA 42-27 in the second half, the Bobcats weren’t able to capture the comeback victory ... Texas State will take a break from WAC play next week to play its ESPN BracketBuster’s game versus Lamar ... Tip-off at the Montagne Center is scheduled for 6 p.m. on February 23.
Utah State Aggies (18-6, 9-5 WAC)
Utah State went 1-1 at home last week ... the Aggies dropped a heart-breaking 63-60 overtime decision to Denver before defeating New Mexico State 73-69 on ESPNU ... Jarred Shaw led three Aggies in double-figures with a game-high 18 points, but Denver’s Brett Olson hit a 30-foot three-pointer as time expired to defeat Utah State in overtime ... Shaw, who was 8-of-12 from the field, added a game-high nine rebounds for Utah State, but was just 2-for-6 at the free throw line ... Spencer Butterfield added 16 points and six rebounds, as his double-double streak was snapped at five-straight games ... Shaw scored 24 points and Butterfield added 17 in leading Utah State men’s basketball to the win against New Mexico State in a nationally televised game on ESPNU ... USU will step out of conference next week as it plays at in-state rival BYU on Tuesday ... USU will then host Illinois State on Saturday, Feb. 23 at 7 p.m.