This Week in WAC Men's Basketball - March 6
IDAHO’S BARONE NAMED WAC PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Idaho’s Kyle Barone has been named the Western Athletic Conference Men’s Basketball Player of the Week for the week of Feb. 25-March 3.
Barone, a senior center from Garden Grove, Calif. (Pacifica HS), recorded his 14th and 15th double-doubles of the season as Idaho went 1-1 last week. He recorded 13 points and 15 rebounds in a 74-56 loss at UTSA. He connected on 6-of-11 shots from the field and made 1-of-3 shots at the charity stripe. He also dished out three assists against the Roadrunners. Barone scored 26 points and pulled down 14 rebounds in a 90-81 win at Texas State. He also tallied three blocks and two assists. He hit 12-of-17 shots from the field and was a perfect 2-of-2 at the free throw line. His 26 points against the Bobcats was his eighth 20-plus point outing of the season, and one point shy of his career high of 27 points.
On the week, Barone averaged 19.5 points, 14.5 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 1.5 blocks per game. He shot 64.3 percent (18-of-28) from the field.
Other nominees included: Denver junior forward Chris Udofia scored 13 points in a win over New Mexico State … Louisiana Tech senior guard Brandon Gibson averaged 16.0 points per game in a pair of wins last week … New Mexico State senior forward Bandja Sy scored 21 points with 11 rebounds in a game at Denver … Seattle U senior forward Chad Rasmussen averaged 18.5 points to help the Redhawks to a 1-1 record last week … Texas State senior forward Matt Staff averaged 18.0 points per game as the Bobcats went 1-1 … Utah State junior guard TeNale Roland posted back-to-back 12-point scoring games last week.
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
AND DOWN THE STRETCH THEY COME
This week marks the final week of regular season play for the WAC. The top to bottom seeds at the WAC tournament are up for grabs this week. One Louisiana Tech win would clinch the outright WAC regular season title and the No. 1 seed at next week’s tournament for the Bulldogs. However, the Bulldogs will have to play a pair of teams that are also looking at an opportunity to either win a share of the WAC regular season crown or improve its seeding at next week’s tournament in Denver and New Mexico State, respectively.
Louisiana Tech holds the nation’s longest active win streak at 18 games. The Bulldogs have not lost a game since dropping an eight-point decision at McNeese State on Dec. 12. LA Tech is followed by Middle Tennessee State with 16 straight wins. Davidson and Nofrolk State tie for third with 14 straight wins apiece.
LOUISIANA TECH FALLS OUT OF TOP-25 DESPITE PAIR OF 20-POINT VICTORIES
Despite registering two 20-plus point victories this past week over conference foes Utah State and San Jose State, Louisiana Tech fell out of the AP Top 25 poll after being ranked for the first time since 1985. LA Tech almost doubled their point total from 54 points to 103 after extending their winning streak to a nation’s best 18 games, but dropped back from No. 25 to No. 27 as Virginia Commonwealth and UCLA jumped ahead into the Top 25 rankings. The Bulldogs also increased their point total from 24 to 41 in the USA Today/Coaches Top 25 poll, moving them up one spot from last week to No. 28.
WAC GOES 5-1 IN BRACKETBUSTERS GAMES
The WAC wrapped up Ramada Worldwide BracketBusters play with a 5-1 record. BracketBusters was a two-day men’s college basketball event pitting potential NCAA Championship hopefuls against each other. Denver defeated Northern Iowa 63-57 on the road in one of the 13 featured games. Utah State defeated Illinois State, UTSA defeated Nicholls State, Idaho defeated Idaho State and Texas State downed Lamar.
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 MAAC. Louisiana Tech holds the league’s top individual RPI at No. 52. New Mexico State is No. 69, while Denver rounds out the top three at No. 76.
WAC TEAMS/PLAYERS AMONG NATIONAL STAT LEADERS
As of March 3, 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 89.7 percent. Tech also ranks third nationally in three-point field goal percentage defense at 28.1 percent. UT Arlington ranks fourth in the nation in field goal percentage defense at 37.3. Individually, Idaho’s Connor Hill ranks sixth nationally in three-point field goal percentage with a 45.1 percent mark. Idaho’s Kyle Barone ranks 10th in the nation with 15 double-doubles this season.
WAC TEAM-BY-TEAM NOTES
Denver Pioneers (19-8, 14-2 WAC)
The Pioneers host the final two games of the regular season, when they welcome Texas-Arlington on Thursday and WAC-leading Louisiana Tech on Saturday ... if Denver beats the Mavericks and La Tech loses at New Mexico State on Thursday, DU would be playing for a share of the WAC regular season championship on Saturday ... after beating New Mexico State on March 2, the Pioneers need just one win or an Aggies loss to clinch a top two seed in the WAC Tournament ... head coach Joe Scott, who is already fourth in DU history in victories, needs just one win to reach No. 100 with the Pioneers ... of the five seasons that Denver has won at least 19 NCAA Division I games, three have been under Scott, including this year ... DU has won eight-straight games, the 10th longest winning streak in the nation and the fourth-longest Division I winning streak in team history.
Idaho Vandals (11-17, 6-11 WAC)
Idaho went 1-1 last week ... the Vandals dropped a 74-56 decision at UTSA before winning 90-81 at Texas State ... Mike McChristian led Idaho with 19 points in the loss at UTSA ... Kyle Barone posted his 14th double-double with 13 points and 15 rebounds ... in the win over Texas State, Kyle Barone scored 26 points to lead three 20-point Vandal scorers ... Barone hit 12-of-17 shots in the game and added 14 rebounds, including six on the offensive end ... Connor Hill made 5-of-7 3-pointers to match his career-high of 22 points and Stephen Madison went 5-of-9 from the field and 10-of-12 from the free throw line to finish with 20 ... Mansa Habeeb added 13 points for Idaho, while Mike McChristian finished with seven points, six rebounds, five steals and two assists ... Idaho will wrap up regular season play at home this week as the team hosts Seattle U on Saturday.
Louisiana Tech Bulldogs (26-3, 16-0 WAC)
Louisiana Tech extended its winning streak to 18 games which is now the longest active winning streak in the country (have not lost since Dec. 12, 2012) ... the Bulldogs defeated Utah State 84-61 before downing San Jose State 88-61 ... LA Tech concluded its 2012-13 home schedule by going a perfect 14-0 ... it was the first time they went undefeated at home since 1998-99 ... Louisiana Tech has now won 18 straight home games dating to last season ... LA Tech now has 26 wins on the season, tying for the second most wins in a single season in Bulldog history ... Brandon Gibson scored 20 points and Raheem Appleby added 15 as Louisiana Tech shot 31 of 62 (50 percent) from the field, including 11 of 21 (52.4 percent) from 3-point range in the win over Utah State ... in the win over SJSU, Appleby scored 16 points ... Alex Hamilton and Jaron Johnson added 13 points apiece for the Bulldogs.
New Mexico State Aggies (19-10, 12-4 WAC)
NM State suffered a 66-60 loss at Denver, March 2 ... senior forward Bandja Sy led the Aggies in its lone game of the week with his fourth double-double of the year with 21 points and 11 rebounds, both game-high marks ... Sy was 7-of-11 from the field, 3-of-3 from the 3-point line and 4-of-4 from the free-throw line ... Sy added two blocks, one assist and one steal in 39 minutes of action. Sy hit a season-high three 3-pointers with all three coming with under two minutes remaining during the Aggies comeback ... freshman center Sim Bhullar scored 17 points on a 6-of-7 shooting performance and blocked four shots. Senior forward Tyrone Watson was also in double-figures with 10 points and five assists ... New Mexico State wraps up regular season play at home against Louisiana Tech on Thursday and UT Arlington on Saturday.
San Jose State Spartans (9-18, 3-13 WAC)
San Jose State went 0-2 last week ... the team dropped an 81-74 decision at UT Arlington before falling 88-61 at Louisiana Tech ... in the loss at UT Arlington, Louis Garrett led all scorers with a career-best 25 points ... he was 7-of-15 from the field including 5-for-10 from three-point range and 6-for-8 from the free throw line ... Garrett added three steals, two assists and a block in 36 minutes of action ... in the loss at No. 25 Louisiana Tech, Xavier Jones led San Jose State with 14 points, while Chris Cunningham and D.J. Brown each scored 10 points ... however, Jones was just 5-of-16 from the field, and Cunningham attempted just one shot from the field ... San Jose State finished regular season play this week at home against UTSA and Texas State.
Seattle U Redhawks (8-19, 3-14 WAC)
Seattle U suffered another close loss, as Texas State rallied from an early deficit to defeat the Redhawks, 67-65 ... Chad Rasmussen hit a season-high six three-pointers to lead Seattle U with 18 points, while Allen Tate scored a career-high 14 points and Prince Obasi notched a double-double with 11 points and 11 assists, the second time he dished out 11 assists against the Bobcats this season ... Saturday, Seattle U held UTSA to 11 points in the first half, the fewest points scored in a half by a Redhawk opponent this season, on its way to a 53-37 victory, snapping the Redhawks’ six-game losing streak ... Rasmussen once again led the Redhawks in scoring, tying his career high with 19 points ... Clarence Trent contributed nine points and eight rebounds... SU faces CSU Bakersfield in the second annual ShoWare College Showcase in Kent, Wash., Wednesday before concluding the regular season at Idaho next Saturday.
UT Arlington Mavericks (17-10, 11-5 WAC)
UT Arlington went a perfect 2-0 last week ... the team defeated San Jose State 81-74 before downing Utah State 61-46 ... Jordan Reves came up a rebound short of his seventh double-double of the season with 10 points and nine rebounds, while Jamel Outler paced UT Arlington with 15 points in the win over SJSU ... in the win over Utah State, Kevin Butler led the Mavericks with 21 points before the second-largest crowd of the season ... Butler was one of four seniors to play his final home game at College Park Center ... Karol Gruszecki (14 points), Jordan Reves (seven rebounds and two blocks) and Cameron Catlett (nine points and six assists) also closed out their home careers ... The Mavericks held Utah State to 30-percent shooting and enjoyed a 15-2 edge in points off turnovers ... the Mavs close out the regular season on the road next week with games at Denver and New Mexico State.
UTSA Roadrunners (8-20, 3-13 WAC)
UTSA outscored Idaho, 36-16, in the second half en route to a 74-56 home victory that extended its win streak to three games ... UTSA could not overcome a historically cold shooting night on Saturday in a 53-37 setback to Seattle U ... the Roadrunners set school records for fewest points in a half with 11 in the first and lowest field goal percentage (.226) and tied UTSA standards for fewest points in a game (37) and fewest field goals (12) ... Kannon Burrage continued to keep pace with the top scorers in the WAC after averaging 15.5 points last week ... the senior guard enters the final week of the regular season averaging a league-best 17.4 points per game, just ahead of Texas State’s Joel Wright (17.3 ppg) ... senior point guard Michael Hale III poured in 26 points in the Idaho victory, topping the 20-point barrier for the seventh time this season (fifth in conference play) ... UTSA finished the regular season at San Jose State and Utah State this week.
Texas State Bobcats (9-20, 4-12 WAC)
Texas State went 1-1 last week ... the team defeated Seattle U 67-65 before falling 90-81 to Idaho ... in the win over Seattle U, four Bobcats finished in double figures ... junior Joel Wright registered 16 points, while junior Deonte’ Jones had 16 points to lead the pack ... senior Matt Staff started the game 3-for-3 from the floor and finished the game with 14 points and three blocked shots, while junior Reid Koenen chipped in 12 points ... the Bobcats shot 40 percent from the floor and forced 19 turnovers ... in the loss to Idaho, all five Bobcat starters finished in double figures ... Staff led the way with 22 points and five rebounds ... Jones and Wright tallied 12 points, while Koenen and Phil Hawkins chipped in 11 points each ... Texas State shot 46.2 percent from the floor, and 84.6 percent from the charity stripe ... Texas State wraps up regular season play on the road at Utah State and San Jose State this week.
Utah State Aggies (19-9, 9-7 WAC)
Utah State went 0-2 last week ... the Aggies dropped an 84-61 decision at Louisiana Tech before falling 61-46 at UT Arlington ... in the loss at LA Tech, Ben Clifford tied his career-high with 14 points and was matched by Jarred Shaw, while TeNale Roland netted 12 points off the bench ... Marcel Davis tallied eight points before fouling out, while Spencer Butterfield notched seven before leaving the game with an injury ... at UT Arlington, Davis posted 15 points to lead the eight Aggie players in uniform Saturday night, as Butterfield did not suit up following an injury suffered in Thursday’s loss ... it was Davis’ eighth game this season in double-digits and fourth with 15 or more points ... Roland, who started in place of Butterfield, added 12 points for his third-straight game in double-figures and fifth time this season ... USU finishes the season at home agasint Texas State and UTSA.