Sunday, January 20, 2008

Saturday night WAC-ing

Let's begin with the expected but give credit to Idaho for a fighting spirit. The Vandals are definitely better than last season but not 'there' yet. Coach George Pfeifer is still in need of a couple of frontcourt producers.

Make it nine straight
Shawn Harrison
Logan New Herald
January 20, 2008

It was Jaycee Carroll’s night and he didn’t disappoint.

Before the teams even took the court, the rowdy Utah State students were chanting his name. That would go on throughout Saturday night’s contest and especially at the end.

Carroll become the school’s all-time leading scorer six-and-a-half minutes into the contest, but more importantly to him and the rest of the Aggie men’s basketball team, USU came away with a Western Athletic Conference victory. The Aggies weathered a good start by Idaho, then took control for a 79-64 win at a soldout Dee Glen Smith Spectrum. It was the hosts ninth straight win.

“Obviously we had a little extra motivation with Jaycee’s thing, and the last thing any of us wanted was for him to break the record at home with a loss,” USU head coach Stew Morrill said. “So those two things are done, his deal and my deal. Now we can move on with the season. They’re both really nice. We’re very appreciative of them.”

Morrill became the school’s winningest coach on Thursday.

The 10,270 fans were standing before and after the game. Carroll, who scored 21 points on 8-of-14 shooting Saturday night, was honored at the conclusion of the game. The former scoring leader, Greg Grant, was on hand to shake Carroll’s hand and present him the game ball, along with USU President Stan Albrecht and Aggie Athletics Director Randy Spetman.

“I was really glad to see him here,” Carroll said of Grant. “I thought it was really cool of him to come back.”

Carroll needed just two points to pass Grant (2,127 points). He did it with a 3-pointer that bounced around the rim before falling through the net to the relief of the fans. Carroll now has 2,147 career points.

“It seemed like it hung on the rim forever,” Carroll said. “It looked like it was going to go out, then just kind of dropped. It was almost like the crowd and everyone there willed it in. It went in, we were able to get that done and go and try and beat Idaho...”
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Here is how touted freshman Herb Pope did in his first NCAA game -- which is the primary story. As expected the Aggies beat LA TECH but it was a closer final score than anyone predicted:

Pope makes debut for Aggies in 63-54 win
Felix Chavez
Las Cruces /Sun-News

LAS CRUCES — When freshman Herb Pope signed with New Mexico State in November of 2006, much was expected of him. But life has thrown him a few curve balls from being shot, to battling the NCAA over his eligibility and an arrest near his hometown of Aliquippa, Pa.

However, the 6-foot-8, 230-pound freshman, who has always been confident in his abilities, finally settled with the NCAA and got to practice with the Aggies earlier in the week. Saturday night against Louisiana Tech, he finally got to play in a game, a 63-54 NMSU win against Louisiana Tech, which settled the Aggies record at 10-10.

Pope seemed loose all week and seemed ready to play in warmups on Saturday night. Then when he got into the game with 14:53 left in the first half, to a fairly loud applause, Pope was officially a Division I basketball player and he didn't disappoint...
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We don't know whether or not to call this one an upset at this point but the point difference certainly was a surprise.

Pack basketball: Defense crumbles in loss to Boise State

Nevada coach Mark Fox went into Saturday's game against Boise State with concerns about his basketball team's defense.

The hot-shooting Boise State Broncos left that defense in shambles on the way to a 95-80 victory in front of 8,609 fans at Lawlor Events Center on Saturday night. The Broncos hit 31-of-57 from the field for 54.4 percent, including 13-of-22 from 3-point range for 59.1 percent.

"I have to give the kids from Boise credit," Fox said. "Let's not take anything away from Boise. Now, I wasn't particularly pleased with our defense, but they certainly shot a great percentage in both halves. We didn't guard them in the first half, either.

"I'd like to think that field-goal percentage in the second half and first half were almost identical. So it wasn't like we just didn't defend in the second half. We didn't get a lot of stops in the first half, either. Boise's got a very good offensive team."

The Broncos put away the Pack with an amazing 32-8 run in the second half to go ahead by 19 points at 79-60 on Reggie Larry's reverse layup with five minutes, 15 seconds remaining...
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OF IF YOU PREFER (from the Boise State point of view):

BSU gets first regular-season WAC win in Reno
Idaho Statesman

RENO - Boise State has had its share of road wins this season, but none of them were as impressive as Saturday night's masterpiece at Nevada.
The Broncos put on a clinic in team basketball, handing the Wolf Pack their worst home loss in a six years, a 95-80 romp that stunned a crowd of 8,609 at the Lawlor Events Center.

"Our guys played their tails off," BSU coach Greg Graham said. "I can't say enough about them."

All five Bronco starters scored in double figures and several reserves contributed in BSU's first regular-season win at Nevada since joining the WAC in 2001. The Broncos (13-5 overall, 4-2 WAC) did beat the Wolf Pack (10-7, 2-2) on their home court in the 2005 WAC Tournament in Reno.

It was Nevada's first double-digit loss at home since falling to Tulsa 76-66 on Jan. 3, 2002...
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Fresno State tumbles as Eddie Miller's shooting slump continues:

Bulldogs get run over by the Warriors
Gary Estwick
The Fresno Bee

HONOLULU -- Hawaii had no answer for Kevin Bell on Saturday night, but Fresno State had the same problem with Bobby Nash.

Nash made three consecutive 3-pointers early in the second half, and the Warriors rode the momentum to a 75-62 win at Stan Sheriff Center, keeping Steve Cleveland winless on the island during his Fresno State tenure.

Despite Bell's game-high 21 points, the Bulldogs lost in Honolulu for the fourth consecutive season with Nash being the thorn in their side with 13 points.

Jared Dillinger scored 15 for the Warriors, winners of back-to-back games for the first time this season and suddenly a Western Athletic Conference contender. Fresno State (9-10, 2-3) dropped under .500 for the first time this season.

An announced crowd of 7,420 fans watched Matt Gibson, Hawaii's leading scorer, follow Nash's example by making two 3-pointers during the early second-half run. Gibson, held scoreless in the first half, finished with 12 points...
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OR IF YOU PREFER (from the Hawaii point of view)

UH routs Fresno, 75-62
Dayton Morinaga
Honolulu Advertiser
January 20, 2008

On a night marketed as "Champions on Display," the University of Hawai'i men's basketball team displayed its version of championship form last night.

The Rainbow Warriors combined a careful offense with a perimeter-wary defense in a 75-62 victory over Western Athletic Conference rival Fresno State.

A crowd of 5,447 — the largest home crowd of the season — at the Stan Sheriff Center watched the 'Bows improve to 7-10 overall and 3-2 in the WAC. It also marked the first time this season that Hawai'i won back-to-back games.

"Tonight was just one of those good nights where things were really clicking," Hawai'i head coach Bob Nash said. "We took care of the ball, we made the right reads. We were unselfish ... that's the way you play basketball."

On a night when the UH football, women's volleyball and soccer teams were honored, several 'Bows broke out of shooting slumps.

Jared Dillinger, who had two points in each of his previous two games, led the way with 15 points on 6-of-9 shooting.

"That's what you gotta do — just shoot when you're in a slump like that," he said. "Tonight it worked out well. Everyone was feeling it and we were feeding off each other."

Bobby Nash added 13 points and a career-high eight assists. Riley Luettgerodt had 12 points on 6-of-10 shooting, and grabbed a team-high six rebounds. Matt Gibson contributed 12 points and eight assists...
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