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This Week in WAC Men's Basketball - Jan. 27
Courtesy: New Mexico State

WAC TEAM-BY-TEAM NOTES

 

Boise State Broncos (14-5, 5-2 WAC)

The win over Louisiana Tech pushed Boise State to 5-2 in WAC play and is now 4-0 in conference play when at home ... the last time the Broncos opened a season with a 4-0 conference record at home was during the 1997-98 season when Boise State went undefeated at home in Big West play ... Junior Ike Okoye moved his way into the Boise State record books as he tallied three blocks against the Bulldogs, pushing his season block total to 40 ... he currently sits in seventh, but is just one shy of sixth, which is held by Tanoka Beard with 41 during the 1991-92 season ... with 11 regular season games left, Okoye could break the school record, which is currently held by John Coker with 77 blocks during the 1993-94 season ... Junior Anthony Thomas recorded his first career double-double as he tallied 12 points and dished out 10 assists ...

 

Fresno State Bulldogs (8-12, 1-5 WAC)

Four Bulldogs reached double digits in both games last week ... on Thursday night, the Fresno State bonded for a strong team effort as Fresno State downed Louisiana Tech, 63-46, for the Bulldogs first WAC victory of the season ... freshman guard Paul George recorded a team-high 16 points while junior forward Sylvester Seay added 15 points and seven rebounds as the defense held Louisiana Tech to 31.6 percent shooting and forced 17 turnovers ... Fresno State then hit the road for a trip to San Jose, where Seay recorded his second career double-double with 17 points and 12 rebounds ... the Saturday night contest included a Bulldog second half surge that erased a 14-point halftime deficit before Fresno State dropped the conference game, 85-79 ... senior guard Dwight O’Neil netted 21 points and dished out four assists ... freshman guard Paul George tallied 20 points and a career-high six assists.

 

Hawai‘i Rainbow Warriors (9-10, 1-6 WAC)

Hawai‘i went 0-2 last week, dropping a 74-63 decision at Nevada before falling 67-51 at home to Utah State ... Kareem Nitotor led the Rainbow Warriors with a team-high 14 points at Nevada ... Nitoto also dished out five assists in the effort ... Roderick Flemings helped with 12 points, while Petras Balocka added 10 ... against Utah State, Bill Amis led the Hawai‘i effort with 17 points ... Flemings had 11 points against the Aggies and Lasha Parghalava had 10 ... on the week, Flemings led the Rainbow Warriors, averaging 11.5 points per game ... Amis also averaged double digits at 10.5 points a contest while shooting an impressive 52.9 percent from the field ... Nitoto was the other UH player to averaged double figures at 10.0 points per game ... this week, Hawai‘i travels to play Louisiana Tech on Thursday before heading to New Mexico State on Saturday.

 

Idaho Vandals (9-10, 3-3 WAC)

Brandon Wiley led Idaho to a win over New Mexico State last week ... Wiley scored 16 points in win ... he led the Vandals with seven rebounds and a season-high four blocks ... shot 7-of-10 from the floor and added two steals ... helped seal the victory with a jumper with 47 seconds remaining to put Idaho up four, then came away with a steal and breakaway dunk to put the Vandals up eight with 16 seconds remaining ... helped Idaho break a 10-game losing streak to the Aggies and earn its first win over New Mexico State since joining the WAC ... Wiley was named WAC Player of the Week for his efforts against the Aggies ... Mac Hopson scored a game-high 23 points and dished out four assists against the Aggies ... this week, Idaho hosts in-state rival Boise State on Thursday ... the Vandals then welcome Nevada to Moscow on Saturday.

 

Louisiana Tech Bulldogs (8-12, 2-5 WAC)

Louisiana Tech went 0-2 last week, dropping a 63-46 decision at Fresno State before taking a close 58-53 loss at Boise State ... against Fresno State, Jamel Guyton led the Bulldogs with a team-high 17 points ... Guyton was the only Bulldog in double figures ... at Boise State, junior Magnum Rolle shot a perfect 11-of-11 for a season-high 23-point, 10-rebound performance ... Rolle scored Tech’s first 10 points of the night in the first six minutes of play ... Rolle is averaging 11.8 points and 7.1 rebounds per game this year ... on the week, Rolle averaged 114.5 points and 9.5 rebounds per game ... he also shot 66.7 percent on the week ... Guyton also averaged double digits at 12.0 points per game over the two contests ... this week, Louisiana Tech hosts Hawai‘i on Thursday and San Jose State on Saturday.

 

Nevada Wolf Pack (12-7, 5-1 WAC)

Coming off a 74-63 win over Hawai’i last Thursday, the Nevada Wolf Pack heads out on the road this week, traveling to Logan, Utah, on Thursday night to take on the Utah State Aggies ... Thursday’s game will tip off at 7:05 p.m. Mountain Time (6:05 p.m. Pacific Time) at Utah State’s Dee Glen Smith Spectrum ... the Wolf Pack brings a season-long five-game winning streak into Thursday’s game, all in conference play ... Nevada ranks second in theWAC standings with a 5-1 record, while Utah State is leading the WAC at 7-0 ... following Thursday’s game with the Aggies, Nevada travels to Moscow, Idaho, to take on theVandals on Saturday, Jan. 31 ... last week, junior Brandon Fields and freshman Luke Babbitt each scored 19 points as Nevada turned back Hawai’i 74-63 Thursday, Jan. 22 at Lawlor Events Center ... Nevada also got 12 points, 10 rebounds and four steals from Malik Cooke.

 

New Mexico State Aggies (9-11, 3-4 WAC)

The Aggies return to Las Cruces to host a pair of WAC games after falling at Boise State, 87-84, Jan. 22, and at Idaho, 67-57, Jan. 24 ... New Mexico State faces San Jose State, Thursday, Jan. 29, at 7 p.m. for the second meeting of the season and then takes on Hawai’i, Saturday, Jan. 31, at 7 p.m.  Both games are broadcast on AggieVision ... at Boise State, freshman forward Troy Gillenwater recorded his first double-double with 24 points and 11 rebounds, which were career-high marks ... sophomore guard Gordo Castillo then scored a career-high 11 points at Idaho ... on the week, Jahmar Young led New Mexico State in scoring, averaging 19.5 points per game ... Gillenwater averaged double figures at 16.5 points per contest, while Jonathan Gibson helped with 13.5 points per game.   

 

San Jose State Spartans (9-9, 3-4 WAC)

San Jose State split a pair of games last week ... the team dropped a 62-58 decision to WAC leader Utah State at home ... SJSU then defeated in-state rival Fresno State 85-79 on Saturday ... three players reached double figure scoring in the loss to Utah State ... Chris Oakes led the team with 13 points, while Justin Graham and C.J. Webster had 11 and 10 points, respectively ... in the win over Fresno State, Adrian Oliver led the team in scoring with 29 points ... Robert Owens had 17 points in the win ... Oakes helped with 11 points, while Tim Pierce added 10 ... on the week, Adrian Oliver led the Spartans over the two games, averaging 18.5 points a contest ... Oliver shot 48.3 percent from the floor and was a perfect 7-for-7 from the charity stripe ... this week, San Jose State travels to play New Mexico State on Thursday before heading to play Louisiana Tech on Saturday.

 

Utah State Aggies (19-1, 7-0 WAC)

Utah State continued its road win streak this season, going 2-0 last week on the road ... the Aggies defeated San Jose State 62-58 before taking down Hawai‘i 67-51 ... at San Jose State, Gary Wilkinson led all scorers with 25 points ... Tyler Newbold and Jared Quayle eached helped with 13 points in the win ... at Hawai‘i, four players reached double figure scoring ... Wilkinson and Tai Wesley each had 15 points, while Newbold added 13 and Quayle helped with 12 ... the two road wins help improve Utah State’s record away from home to 11-0, the top road mark in the nation ... Utah State moved into the 27th spot in the USA Today/Coaches Poll ... on Thursday, Utah State hosts Nevada, where the Aggies have won 28 straight games ... Utah State then travels to pay Fresno State on Saturday ...

 

 

WAC NOTES

 

IDAHO’S WILEY NAMED WAC PLAYER OF THE WEEK

Idaho’s Brandon Wiley has been named the Western Athletic Conference Men’s Basketball Player of the Week for Jan. 19-25. The honor marks the first career WAC Player of the Week award for Wiley.

 

Wiley, a junior from Pinole, Calif. (City College of San Francisco), led the Vandals to a 67-57 win over New Mexico State, snapping a 10-game losing streak to the Aggies. The win is Idaho’s first victory over New Mexico State since joining the WAC in 2005. Wiley scored 16 points on 7-of-10 shooting against the Aggies. He also tallied a season-high four blocks with a team-high seven rebounds.

 

Wiley helped seal the victory against NMSU, connecting on a jumper with 47 seconds remaining to give Idaho a four point advantage. Wiley then came away with a steal and a breakaway dunk to put the Vandals up eight with 16 seconds to play.

 

Other nominees: Boise State junior Ike Okoye; Fresno State freshman Paul George; Louisiana Tech junior Magnum Rolle; and Utah State senior Gary Wilkinson.

 

GAINING MOMENTUM IN TOP-25 AND RPI RANKINGS

As a conference, the WAC continues to climb the RPI rankings, coming in at 13 according to both CollegeRPI.com and RealTimeRPI.com. The WAC ranks a spot ahead of the Colonial and two spots ahead of the West Coast Conference (WCC). Utah State is now receiving votes in both top-25 polls and is currently ranked 27th in the latest ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll with 56 votes and holds the 35th spot in the AP poll with 23 votes.

 

UTAH STATE WIN STREAK

Utah State has won 28 straight games inside the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum, which is the second-longest active home winning streak in the country. Kansas has the longest active home winning streak in the nation at 35 games, followed by Utah State (28) and Davidson (26). Utah State also owns the nation’s second-longest overall win streak in the country at 14 games, just behind Saint Mary’s (15).

 

YOUNG AND THE RESTLESS

Of the 124 players on rosters in the WAC, 75 (60.5 percent) are made up of juniors and sophomores. There are currently just 20 seniors in the league, eight of which are current starters. There are nearly just as many freshman starters (6) in the league as there are senior starters (8). Juniors and sophomores make up 60.5 percent of the starting lineups on the WAC.

 

TURNING IT AROUND

After winning eight games last season, Idaho has already matched its win total from last season through 18 games already this year. The Vandals went 8-21 last season and already hold an 9-10 (.474) mark this year. Louisiana Tech, which went 6-24 last season, already has surpassed its win total from last year as the team currently holds an 8-12 mark.

 

SAN JOSE STATE’S PIERCE SETS SCHOOL THREE-POINT MARKS

Forward Tim Pierce became the new San Jose State career record holder for 3-points baskets made. He broke the old record of 123 set by Michael Quinney. Pierce also holds the SJSU all-time record for 3-point field goal attempted at 394. Pierce also set the SJSU record for most consecutive three-point baskets made as he connected on nine in a row (5-for-5 in second half at San Diego and 4-for-4 to open the game against Northern Colorado).

 

WAC TEAMS RANK TOP-10 NATIONALLY IN FOUR TEAM STATISTICAL CATEGORIES

As of Jan. 26, WAC teams rank in the top-10 in four team categories. Utah State leads the nation in win-loss percentage (95.0). The Aggies also front the nation in field goal shooting at 50.7 percent. Utah State also ranks fifth in assist-to-turnover ration (1.48) and 10th in rebound margin (7.8).

 

IDAHO SETS SCHOOL RECORD FOR LARGEST MARGIN OF VICTORY

Idaho’s 54-point victory over UC Irvine on Nov. 28 was its largest margin of victory over a Division I opponent in school history. The previous record was a 53-point margin against Pacific in 1983. It ranked as the second largest margin ever at Idaho behind a 111-34 win over Northwest College in 1987.

 

NEVADA’S BABBITT AMONG TOP FRESHMEN IN NATION

The only freshman in WAC history to earn back-to-back WAC Player of the Week honors, Luke Babbitt has opened his first season with Nevada in strong fashion, leading the team in both scoring and rebounding. Babbitt has a chance to become the first Nevada freshman to lead the team in scoring since Terrance Green in 1999-00. He could also become the first freshman to pace the Pack in rebounding since Nick Fazekas averaged 7.6 rebounds per game in 2003-04.  He currently ranks sixth among the nation’s freshmen in scoring.

 

USU POSTS SECOND-BEST DEFENSIVE EFFORT IN NCAA HISTORY

Utah State accomplished a rare feat Nov. 25 in its 75-49 home win against Weber State as it held the Wildcats without a field goal for the final 16:20 of the game, which according to the NCAA is the second-longest field goal drought in NCAA history. The longest stretch in NCAA history one team has held another without a field goal was on Feb. 25, 1979 when Duke held North Carolina scoreless for 20:48. For Utah State, its defensive effort against Weber State is the best since Feb. 15, 2006, when it held Idaho scoreless for 13:53, which was the third-longest scoring drought in NCAA history.  USU also had a 37-0 run against the Vandals, which is an NCAA record, and it held Idaho without a field goal for 16:01 during that game, which was the second-longest streak in NCAA history before the WSU game.

 

TOP WAC TEAMS OVER LAST FIVE YEARS

Over the last five seasons dating back to 2003-04, Utah State has turned in a 138-45 record, the best record of any WAC team during that time (.754 winning percentage). In conference games, Nevada has won 73 games, the most in that same time period. The top three teams in winning percentage (both overall and WAC) over the last five seasons:

 

Overall Record (Pct.)                 

1. Utah State 138-45 (.754)  

2. Nevada 139-46 (.751)      

3. Boise State 109-71 (.606)

 

WAC Record (Pct.)

1. Nevada 73-17 (.811)

2. Utah State 39-16 (.709)

3. Boise State 56-53 (.514)

 

FRESNO STATE’S GEORGE PUTS DOWN DUNK THAT LANDS NO. 1 ON SPORTCENTER’S TOP PLAYS

Paul George highlighted Fresno State’s game at Saint Mary’s (11/17) with a memorable dunk that landed as the No. 1 play on Sportscenter’s Top 10 “Plays of the Day” for Nov. 18, 2008 and opened the preview highlights for the broadcast. The dunk, where the freshman slashed straight to the basket and delivered an emphatic one-handed slam on two Gael defenders, beat a pair of Lebron James’ and other professional highlights for the top spot. 

 

UTAH STATE’S WILKINSON EARNS SPOT ON NATIONAL WATCH LISTS

Utah State’s Gary Wilkinson has been named one of 50 players to headline the Naismith Trophy watch list. The watch list was compiled by the Atlanta Tipoff Club’s Board of Selectors, which based its criteria on player performances from the previous year and expectations for the 2008-09 college basketball season. The Naismith Trophy presented by AT&T will be awarded at the 2009 NCAA Men’s Final Four in Detroit, Mich. He was also named one of 30 candidates for the 2008-09 Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award, which is presented annually to the NCAA Division I Student-Athlete of the Year. Wilkinson, a 6-9 senior forward from South Jordan, Utah is the only player from the Western Athletic Conference to be selected for both the Naismith and Lowe’s CLASS award.  Entering the 2008-09 season, Wilkinson was voted as the WAC’s preseason Player of the Year by the media after earning second-team all-WAC honors as a junior. As a senior, Wilkinson is averaging 17.0 points and 7.5 rebounds, and is shooting 59.3 percent from the field and 84.1 percent from the free throw line. He currently ranks second in the WAC in scoring, fourth in field goal shooting, second in free throw shooting and fourth in rebounding.

 

WAC TEAMS GO PERFECT IN EXHIBITION PLAY

WAC teams went a perfect 14-0 in exhibition play this season. Boise State, Fresno State, Hawai‘i, New Mexico State, and Utah State each went 2-0, while Idaho, San Jose State, Nevada, and Louisiana Tech each went 1-0.

 

WAC TOURNAMENT TO RETURN TO RENO IN 2009

The WAC Board of Directors awarded the 2009 and 2010 WAC Men’s and Women’s Basketball Tournaments to the University of Nevada and the Reno-Sparks Convention and Visitors Authority. The tournaments will be held in the 11,485-seat Lawlor Events Center, located on the campus of the University of Nevada. The tournament features all nine men’s and women’s teams. The WAC tournaments were last held in Reno in 2006. The 2007 and 2008 tournaments were held in Las Cruces, New Mexico at New Mexico State University.

 

ESPNU BRACKETBUSTERS

For the seventh year in a row, the WAC has partnered with ESPN and several other top college basketball conferences for ESPNU BracketBusters, a weekend men’s basketball event matching potential NCAA tournament hopefuls against each other. All nine WAC teams will be a part of this year’s pool of teams. The event will be held February 20-21. The match-ups for Bracket Buster Saturday will be determined by ESPN in conjunction with the conferences about three weeks before the event.

 

TOP PLAYERS RETURNING

The WAC returns one player from last year’s all-WAC second team, Utah State forward Gary Wilkinson. No players return from the first team. Three of the five named to the all-newcomer team return: Armon Johnson (G, Nevada), C.J. Webster (C, San Jose State), and Wilkinson. Nevada guard Lyndale Burleson is the lone returner from last season’s all-defensive team. Nevada’s Johnson was the 2007-08 WAC Freshman of the Year.

 

TOURNAMENT OPPONENTS

WAC teams could face at least 16 non-conference opponents that played in last year’s NCAA Tournament, including three teams in last years’ Final Four (Kansas, North Carolina, UCLA).  Idaho and Nevada lead the conference with three games scheduled apiece.

 

2007-08 NATIONAL POSTSEASON TOURNAMENT TEAMS ON WAC SCHEDULE

Idaho at Michigan State, Nov. 16

Cal State Fullerton at Hawai’i, Nov. 16

Boise State at Siena, Nov. 17

Nevada at San Diego, Nov. 18

Idaho at Gonzaga, Nov. 18

New Mexico State at USC, Nov. 18

Fresno State at St. Mary’s, Nov. 19

UNLV at Fresno State, Dec. 3

New Mexico State at Kansas, Dec. 3

UNLV at Nevada, Dec. 6

Utah State vs. BYU, Dec. 6 (SLC, UT)

San Jose State at San Diego, Dec. 8

Washington State at Idaho, Dec. 21

Boise State at San Diego, Dec. 22

Louisiana Tech at UCLA, Dec. 28

North Carolina at Nevada, Dec. 31

 

LETTERWINNER/STARTER CAPSULE

This season, three of the nine WAC teams return at least three starters: Louisiana Tech, San Jose State and Utah State. San Jose State leads the conference as they return all five of their starters from last season. Nevada returns two starters from the 2007-08 season, and Boise State, Fresno State, Hawai’i, Idaho, and New Mexico State all return one from the previous season. Boise State has the most number of returning letterwinners with nine.

 

 

Basketball-M
WAC
Overall
Utah Valley
13-3
20-12
New Mexico State
12-4
26-10
Grand Canyon
10-6
15-15
Chicago State
8-8
13-19
Idaho
7-9
16-18
Kansas City
7-9
10-20
Seattle U
5-11
13-17
Bakersfield
5-11
13-19
Texas-Pan American
5-11
9-23
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CSU Bakersfield -
Chicago State -
Grand Canyon -
UMKC -
New Mexico State -
Seattle U -
UTPA -
Utah Valley -