Friday, January 25, 2008

Last night in the WAC

It may be a down year for the WAC but it's also one where almost any member can pull off a surprise -- as you'll read.

Ags sloppy, but extend streak to 10
Shawn Harrison
Logan Herald Journal
January 25, 2008

RUSTON, La. ­ Notching their 10th win in a row was never really too much in doubt for the Aggies Thursday night.

But stretches of sloppiness had Utah State head coach Stew Morrill less than happy following the game. The Aggies did what they had to in beating an undersized and undermanned Louisiana Tech bunch, 71-61, at the Thomas Assembly Center in front of 1,391 fans.

“It’s a win,” Morrill said. “It’s in the right column. We’ll take it.”

The veteran Aggie coach was not up for making any excuses about travel and being on the road for the first time since early December. It came down to taking care of the ball against this Western Athletic Conference foe. USU (15-5, 5-0 WAC) had a season-high 24 turnovers in the game.

“Twenty-four turnovers is unacceptable,” Morrill said. “... By tomorrow I will feel good about, because it’s a win...
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Aggies slip up, lose to Nevada
Jason Groves
Las Cruces /Sun-News

LAS CRUCES ­ For the 6,689 listed in attendance, it was hard to tell which team was fighting for its life in fifth place and which was in second place in the Western Athletic Conference.

Nevada defeated New Mexico State University 87-78 on Thursday at the Pan American Center, beating the Aggies for the fifth time in the last six meetings.

"We didn't start out like we wanted to and they got on a run and that was the difference in the game," NMSU senior forward Justin Hawkins said. "From the opening tip, we didn't play the way we wanted to play as far as tempo."

Neither team could find the mark early, but the Wolf Pack woke up long enough for a 19-5 run in the first half and were never truly threatened, cruising past an Aggies team that lost a golden opportunity to score a big conference win at home. The Wolf Pack shot a blistering 64 percent in the second half to seal the win.

"We tried to change up defenses and mix it up, but they did a phenomenal job shooting the ball," Aggies head coach Marvin Menzies said. "We didn't match their intensity from the beginning of the game."

Wolf Pack freshman point guard Armon Johnson was too much for the Aggies on the perimeter. Johnson scored 20 points and added four assists. Sophomore guard Brandon Fields led the Wolf Pack with 21 points and senior Marcelus Kemp scored 17...
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Here's another look from the same newspaper:

Nevada guards control tempo against NMS
Felix Chavez
Las Cruces Sun-News.

But that's where they stood entering Thursday night's critical Western Athletic Conference matchup with second-place New Mexico State at the Pan American Center.

The Wolf Pack played like the more desperate team, particularly in the first half as it built a 36-25 halftime lead en route to a 87-78 win to get themselves back in the league race.

"We're a young team, but we were resilient tonight," Nevada coach Mark Fox said. "We still had some young moments, but this was a good win for us. We hope to show some consistency."

Nevada, which shot 56.4 percent from the field and 53.3 percent from 3-point range, was simply better than NMSU Thursday night, getting open treys, penetrating to the basket and answering the Aggies whenever NMSU tried to get back into the game...
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From the Nevada perspective:

Pack basketball: Nevada plays spoiler to NMSU
Steve Sneddon
January 25, 2008

LAS CRUCES, N.M. -- What a difference five days made for the Nevada basketball team, which got its chance to ruin a favored home team's evening and enjoyed it.

Brandon Fields scored 21 points, Armon Johnson had 20 and Marcelus Kemp finished with 17 to lead the Wolf Pack past New Mexico State, 87-78, in front of 6,689 fans at Pan American Center on Thursday night. In a game that the Pack, which was a four-point underdog, led by as many as 18 points, Aggie fans looked a lot like their Reno counterparts when Boise State shocked Nevada, 95-80, last Saturday.

"It definitely lifts the spirits of our teammates," Fields said. "We're playing for a WAC championship. After the loss against Boise everybody was kind of down. This got everybody's confidence level back up."

The Pack shored up its defense, which had been drilled by Boise State, and rolled offensively, hitting 31-of-55 from the field for 56.4 percent, which was second to only its 56.9 percent against UC Irvine in the second game of the season. Nevada also hit 8-of-15 shots from 3-point range for 53.3 percent, its highest percentage in any game...
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BSU finally clicks at home, wallops Hawaii
Nick Jezierny
Idaho Statesman
January 25, 2008

With the exception of its win over then-No. 20 BYU, most of the Boise State men's basketball team's best moments have come away from Taco Bell Arena.

The Broncos finally gave their home fans - the 4,896 who came out despite blizzard conditions - a taste of what they've been missing.

BSU defeated Hawaii 95-80 on Thursday, but don't let that score fool you. The Broncos led by as many as 31 points before emptying their bench and settling for a 15-point win, their sixth in the past eight games.

BSU won at Nevada on Saturday by an identical score and showed no hangover from the victory.

"Coach emphasized no letdowns and making a statement at home," senior Matt Bauscher said. "We haven't really played two halves at home all year. I think, despite the last 5 minutes of the game, we owned them from start to finish."

Bauscher scored a team-high 21 points and had eight assists. He made all five of his 3-point shots as the Broncos (14-5, 5-2 WAC) went 14-of-22 from behind the arc to overwhelm Hawaii (7-11, 3-3).

BSU never trailed and the only time the score was tied was 0-0. The Broncos forced 10 first-half turnovers, limited Hawaii to 30.8 percent shooting and made 57.7 percent of their own shots to take a 47-22 halftime lead...
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Three-point Shooting Sinks Men's Hoops at Idaho
Courtesy: San Jose State Athletics

Moscow, Idaho-----Even though C.J. Webster posted his fourth double-double of the season and Mac Peterson came off the bench with a season scoring high, the night belonged to Idaho guard Mike Hall who set a school record with nine 3-point baskets leading the Vandals to a 74-63 win over San Jose State University in a Western Athletic Conference men’s basketball game.

Hall finished with a career-high 29 points missing only one 3-point try in the first half. Guard Jordan Brooks added 19, 17 of them after halftime, for Idaho (5-13, 2-5 WAC).

“We made a lot of mental errors and to Idaho’s credit, they took advantage of them. What was really big for them, was we cut it to it to four (56-52, with 5:32 to go) and he (Hall) made two 3’s, one in transition and one in a breakdown by our defense,” said San Jose State George Nessman. “You have to give Idaho credit in that situation. They played a really composed game.”

The Spartans (9-9, 2-4 WAC) had four players in double-figure scoring with center Chris Oakes and Webster each scoring 14. Webster added a game-high 14 rebounds and was credited with a season-high 6 assists as he and Oakes effectively worked a high-low post game on offense together. The Spartans’ top two inside men combined to make 12-of-17 from the field.

DaShawn Wright added 11 and Peterson scored 10.

“I felt like I was a ‘zone.’ I was pretty wide open tonight,” said Hall, who came into the game making 41.1 percent from three-point range and scored Idaho’s first 12 points of the game, all on three-pointers...
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