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This Week in WAC Men's Basketball - March 19
Courtesy: New Mexico State

WAC NOTES

NEW MEXICO STATE EARNS NO. 13 SEED, FACES NO. 4 SAINT LOUIS
After winning its second consecutive WAC Tournament Championship, the New Mexico State men’s basketball team meets No. 4 Saint Louis in the second round of the NCAA Tournament, Thursday, March 21 in San Jose, Calif., at the HP Pavilion. The Aggies are a No. 13 seed (24-10, 14-4 WAC) in the Midwest Regional, while the Billikens are a No. 4 seed (27-6, 13-3 Atlantic 10). NM State is making its 20th NCAA Tournament appearance in program history after winning back-to-back WAC Tournament titles following a 64-55 win over UT Arlington, March 16. Saint Louis enters the tournament after winning the A-10 Championship with a 62-56 victory over No. 25 VCU, March 17. Thursday’s meeting is the seventh in school history with the Billikens leading the all-time series, 4-2, but the programs haven’t met since the 1974-75 season.

DENVER AND LOUISIANA TECH EARN NIT BIDS

Denver earned a No. 3 seed and will take on No. 6 Ohio at home on Tuesday, while No. 5 Louisiana Tech travels to play No. 4 Florida State in the National Invitational Tournament (NIT). After a remarkable season that resulted in a 26-6 record and a WAC regular season championship, Louisiana Tech will participate in the 76th edition of the NIT as the Bulldogs will travel to face Florida State in Tallahassee on Tuesday at 6:15 p.m. CT in game that will be streamed on ESPN3. The No. 3-seeded Denver will host No. 6-seeded Ohio University in the NIT First Round at Magness Arena on Tuesday at 7:15 p.m. MT. The game will air live on ESPN3.com.

UT ARLINGTON TO HOST ORAL ROBERTS IN CIT GAME
UT Arlington accepted an invitation Sunday to participate in the College Insider.com Postseason Tournament. The Mavericks (19-13) will play host to Oral Roberts (18-14) on Wednesday, March 20 at 7:30 p.m. at College Park Center. UT Arlington is in the postseason for the second consecutive season, third time under head coach Scott Cross and fourth time in the program’s history. The Mavericks competed in the National Invitational Tournament (NIT) in 2012 and the NCAA Tournament in 2008 under Cross’ direction. UT Arlington also took part in the 1981 NIT.

NEW MEXICO STATE CLAIMS SECOND-STRAIGHT WAC TOURNAMENT TITLE
New Mexico State University punched its card to the NCAA Tournament with a 64-55 win over UT Arlington in the final game of the WAC Tournament Saturday night. Tournament MVP Sim Bhullar, netted 16 points and added 15 rebounds as he helped the Aggies prolong their season. Daniel Mullings (16) and Bandja Sy (10) also hit double figures on the score sheet for the Aggies. UTA’s Kevin Butler scored 13 points and fought for 10 boards for the Mavs.

2013 WAC All-Tournament Team
Joel Wright, Texas State
Karol Gruszecki, UT Arlington
Kevin Butler, UT Arlingto
Daniel Mullings, New Mexico State
MVP: Sim Bhullar, New Mexico State

WAC POSTSEASON HONORS HANDED OUT
The WAC men’s basketball postseason award winners as selected by the league’s 10 head coaches were announced on Sunday. Idaho senior Kyle Barone was voted the WAC’s Player of the Year.  New Mexico State’s Bhullar becomes the first Aggie in school history to earn the WAC’s Freshman of the Year award. Louisiana Tech head coach Michael White earned his first Don Haskins Coach of the Year honor by leading the Bulldogs to a share of the school’s first-ever regular season WAC title.

Player of the Year: Kyle Barone, Sr., C, Idaho
Freshman of the Year: Sim Bhullar, Fr., C, New Mexico State
Don Haskins Coach of the Year: Michael White, Louisiana Tech

First Team All-WAC
Chris Udofia, Jr., F, Denver
Kyle Barone, Sr., C, Idaho
Raheem Appleby, So., G, Louisiana Tech
Kenneth Smith, So., G, Louisiana Tech
Bandja Sy, Sr., F, New Mexico State

Second Team All-WAC
Chase Hallam, Sr., G, Denver
Daniel Mullings, So., G, New Mexico State
Joel Wright, Jr., F, Texas State
Spencer Butterfield, Jr., G/F, Utah State
Jarred Shaw, Jr., F/C, Utah State

Third Team All-WAC

Brett Olson, So., G, Denver
Royce O’Neale, So., F, Denver
Sim Bhullar, Fr., C, New Mexico State
Kevin Butler, Sr., F, UT Arlington
Michael Hale III, Sr., G, UTSA

All-Defensive Team
Chase Hallam, Sr., G, Denver
Chris Udofia, Jr., F, Denver
Michale Kyser, So., F, Louisiana Tech
Kenneth Smith, So., G, Louisiana Tech
Daniel Mullings, So., G, New Mexico State

All-Newcomer Team

Alex Hamilton, Fr., G, Louisiana Tech
Sim Bhullar, Fr., C, New Mexico State
Joel Wright, Jr., F, Texas State
Spencer Butterfield, Jr., G/F, Utah State
Jarred Shaw, Jr., F/C, Utah State

DENVER AND LOUISIANA TECH SHARE WAC REGULAR SEASON CROWN

Denver and Louisiana Tech wrapped up regular season play with identical 16-2 WAC records to each claim a share of the 2013 WAC regular season title. The title is the first-ever WAC title for both the Pioneers and the Bulldogs. LA Tech was awarded the No. 1 seed at the WAC tournament because it won the tie-breaker, which was based on RPI.

WAC TEAM-BY-TEAM NOTES


Denver Pioneers (21-9, 16-2 WAC)

The Pioneers earned a No. 3 seed in the National Invitation Tournament after being upset by Texas State in the WAC Tournament last week ... that loss snapped a 10-game winning streak, the longest Division I streak in DU history ... sophomore Brett Olson scored 19 points, but the Pioneers fell in a 72-68 upset by Texas State in the quarterfinals ... the loss eliminated Denver from the tournament ... freshman Jalen Love scored 17 points, while junior Chris Udofia finished with 12 points and three steals ... Denver has won 17-of-their-last-19 and 20-of-their-last-24 games ... Denver won a share of the WAC regular season championship with Louisiana Tech, as both finished with a 16-2 WAC record ... the Pioneers rank fourth in the NCAA in assist/turnover ratio (1.47) ... DU will host Ohio in the NIT on Tuesday night.

Idaho Vandals (12-18, 7-11 WAC)

New Mexico State shot 60.0 percent from the field and Idaho couldn’t keep up as the Aggies beat the Vandals 65-49 in the WAC quarterfinals Thursday afternoon ... the Vandals trailed by 12, 42-30, five minutes into the second half when they began to make a push ... a 7-0 Idaho run cut NMSU’s lead to just five points at 42-37, but the Aggies responded with an 11-4 run of their own to build the lead back to double-digits with less than eight minutes to play ... the Vandals pulled within eight at 57-49 with four minutes to play, but never got closer ... Idaho senior Kyle Barone went 8-for-10 from the field and finished with 19 points while sophomore Connor Hill added 14 points on 5-of-11 shooting ... Idaho finishes its season with a 12-18 record while the Aggies advance to the WAC semifinals with a 22-10 mark.

Louisiana Tech Bulldogs (26-6, 16-2 WAC)

Louisiana Tech will participate in the 76th edition of the National Invitation Tournament (NIT) as the fifth-seeded Bulldogs will travel to face No. 4 Florida State in on Tuesday in a game that will be broadcast live on ESPN3 ... the NIT appearance marks the seventh time that the Bulldogs have participated in the post-season tournament ... Tech is 7-6 all-time in NIT games, the most recent contest being a first round defeat at Clemson, 69-53 on March 15, 2006 ... that Bulldog team was led by former LA Tech great and current Utah Jazz forward Paul Millsap ... LA Tech earned the automatic bid into the NIT having finished first in the WAC regular season  ... Tech heads into NIT play after dropping a 73-67 decision to UTSA in the quarterfinals of the WAC Tournament ... this is the first postseason action of any kind for the `Dogs they advanced to the second round of the CollegeInsider.com Tournament in 2009-10.

New Mexico State Aggies (24-10, 14-4 WAC)
New Mexico State meets No. 4 Saint Louis, Thursday, at the HP Pavilion in San Jose, Calif., on TNT ... the Aggies are a No.13 seed (24-10), and the Billikens are a No. 4 seed (27-6) in the Midwest Regional ... the Aggies are making their 20th appearance in the NCAA Tournament in school history and their second consecutive showing and third trip in four years for the Crimson and White ... the Aggies are 24-10 overall this season after winning its second consecutive WAC Tournament Championship following a 64-55 win over UT Arlington, March 16 in Las Vegas, Nev ... sophomore guard Daniel Mullings is leading the team with 14.0 points per game ... senior forward Bandja Sy is also in double figures with 11.7 points and 7.3 rebounds per game ... senior forward Tyrone Watson and freshman center Sim Bhullar add 10.8 and 10.2 points per contest, respectively.

San Jose State Spartans (9-20, 3-14 WAC)

In his final game as a Spartan, LaVanne Pennington scored a career-high 21 points but San Jose State lost 67-49 to the UTSA Roadrunners in the opening round of the 2013 WAC Tournament ... Pennington made 9-of-21 (42 percent) from the floor and accounted for half of the team’s 18 field goals on the night with the rest of the team going 9-of-35 (25 percent) for the game ... Chris Cunningham was the only other Spartan in double figures.  He had 12 points and led the team with 9 rebounds, but picked up three fouls in the first half and his fourth with 17:03 to play in the game ... SJSU went without a bucket for the opening five minutes of the second half and trailed by 19 points, with just over 14 minutes to play ... they cut the lead to 10 points at the 5:01 mark but could not get the advantage to single digits and fell by 18.

Seattle U Redhawks (8-22, 3-15 WAC)

After falling behind early, Seattle U pulled into a tie early in the second half, but Texas State reestablished its lead and defeated the Redhawks 68-56 last week in the first round of the WAC Tournament at the Orleans Arena ... Deshaun Sunderhaus led the Redhawks with 15 points, doing most of his scoring from the free throw line by going 9-of-10 ... Prince Obasi notched a double-double with 13 points and 10 rebounds, and Chad Rasmussen finished with 11 points in the game ... for the game, Seattle U shot 33.9 percent from the field (19-of-56), including 5-of-13 from behind the three-point line, and 81.3 percent (13-of-16) from the free throw line ... the Redhawks did win the rebounding battle, 35-29, but they also committed 19 turnovers that led to 28 Bobcat points ... Seattle University ends the 2012-13 season with an 8-22 overall record.

UT Arlington Mavericks (19-13, 11-7 WAC)
UT Arlington accepted an invitation Sunday to participate in the College Insider.com Postseason Tournament ... the Mavericks will play host to Oral Roberts (18-14) on Wednesday at College Park Center ... UT Arlington is in the postseason for the second consecutive season, third time under head coach Scott Cross and fourth time in the program’s history ... the Mavericks competed in the National Invitational Tournament (NIT) in 2012 and the NCAA Tournament in 2008 under Cross’ direction ... UT Arlington also took part in the 1981 NIT ... the CIT bid is the first for the program and also marks the first postseason game at College Park Center. UT Arlington is in the midst of its first full season at College Park Center, a 7,000-seat on-campus arena which opened on Feb. 1, 2012 ... the Mavericks reached the championship game of the WAC Tournament, falling Saturday night 64-55 to New Mexico State.

UTSA Roadrunners (10-22, 3-14 WAC)
Jeromie Hill scored 17 points, but it was not enough as UT Arlington ended UTSA’s WAC Tournament run with a 69-53 semifinal victory late Friday night at Orleans Arena ... Jordan Sims hit four 3-pointers en route to 12 points, while Kannon Burrage added nine and shared the team lead with Hill with six rebounds ... playing its third game in four nights, the Roadrunners could not overcome a cold-shooting first half in their third conference tournament semifinal appearance in the last five years ... UTSA shot 35.3 percent for the game, including 42.3 percent in the final 20 minutes, while UT Arlington connected at a 50.9 percent clip for the game ... UTSA shot just 28 percent (7-of-25) in the first half, while UT Arlington made 5-of-11 from downtown and 44.4 percent overall.

Texas State Bobcats (12-22, 5-13 WAC)
No. 7 Texas State fought hard from start to finish, but it was No. 3 New Mexico State that came away with the win in the WAC semifinals to advance to the championship game ... the Bobcats finished the season, 12-22, while the Aggies improved to 23-10 ... Joel Wright finished with 17 points in the semifinal matchup, and a new WAC Tournament made free throws record of 31 throughout all three games this week ... he also had 11 rebounds to record his sixth double-double of the season ... Deonte’ Jones added 16 points on 5-for-8 shooting, while Matt Staff chipped in 13 points. Texas State shot 34.5 percent from the floor and 75.9 percent from the free throw line ... Wright was named to the WAC All-Tournament team for his three-game effort.

Utah State Aggies (21-10, 11-7 WAC)
Junior center Jarred Shaw led four Utah State double-figure scorers with 20 points, but UT Arlington’s Kevin Butler scored 23 points to lead the fourth-seeded Mavericks to an 83-78 win against fifth-seeded Utah State inside the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas, Nev. on Thursday night in the final game of the WAC Tournament quarterfinals ... Utah State, who has lost back-to-back quarterfinal games for the first time since 1994 and 1995, falls to 21-10 on the season and 12-6 in its eight years in WAC Tournament action. UT Arlington improves to 18-12 with the win and will face ninth-seeded UTSA in the semifinals of the WAC Tournament Friday ... Shaw, who was 8-of-13 from the field and 4-of-5 from the free throw line, added a game-high nine rebounds for Utah State ... Spencer Butterfield added 19 points and six rebounds, while  Ben Clifford scored all 16 of his points in the second half.

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