Battle for Last Place to Tip Off Busy Week of WAC Hoops

Battle
UTRGV (in orange) hosts Lamar on Wednesday night in a Battle for Last Place in the WAC standings. Courtesy Jay Drowns/UVU Marketing.

The Battle for Last Place takes place on the second day of February, 2022. That is kind of a wild thought. But, on Wednesday, February 2, 2022 at the UTRGV Fieldhouse, the Battle for Last Place is going down. On a night that UTRGV is set to give tribute to former head coach Lew Hill, the battle for last place is not what the Vaqueros had in mind.

But, it is what it is. And with 11 teams vying for 10 spots at WAC Vegas in a little over a month, this game could realistically determine who those 10 schools will be. Lamar comes in at 0-10 in WAC play. UTRGV is 1-8. A Lamar loss hypothetically knocks the Cardinals out of the running.

After Wednesday’s road game, Lamar finishes WAC play at California Baptist, at Seattle, home versus SFA, at Abilene Christian and at Tarleton. With the way Lamar has played in 2021-22, it may be a tall order to win at least two conference games in that span.

Thus, the Battle for Last Place is arguably the Game of the Week around the WAC.

People think that is a bad take. And yes, both of Seattle’s road games could be in the conversation. Unbeaten in WAC play, Seattle takes its show on the road to face Grand Canyon and New Mexico State this week.

But, let’s get back to this Battle for Last Place.

In his first season as head coach, Alvin Brooks might be the first to say the season was extremely different. The Cardinals have not been fully healthy at any given point this season. The four-guard combo of Kasen Harrison, C.J. Roberts, Jordyn Adams and Davion Buster have not been on the floor at the same time once this season. Lamar had to forfeit a pair of games against Grand Canyon and New Mexico State. The forfeits were due to COVID issues as well as simply not having enough healthy players to compete.

For UTRGV, the season has been a major disappointment. And, similar to Lamar, the Vaqueros have not been fully healthy the majority of the season. If you were paying attention last Wednesday, the Vaqueros had just three bench players dressed. So, what happens when four players foul out? That’s right, you have a walk-on run back to the locker room to get into uniform so you can finish the game with a full squad o the floor. The saddest part about that is UTRGV should have won the game.

Both teams are coming off two-point losses to Abilene Christian. The Wildcats hit a 3-pointer with nine seconds remaining to pull off a crazy comeback against UTRGV on Wednesday. And Lamar’s comeback bid on Saturday against ACU came up just short.

Emotions will be running high on Wednesday night. The Vaqueros will honor the late Lew Hill who passed away early on the morning of Feb. 8, 2022. Quinton Johnson II, Jeff Otchere, Doc Nelson, Marek Nelson, Malik Lawrence-Anderson and Laquan Butler all played for Lew Hill. Will the emotion of the tribute night play a role on Wednesday night?

If you don’t think some of these storylines are intriguing for Wednesday night’s Battle for Last Place, I don’t know what you tell you.

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