Two weeks ago, I was at Moody Coliseum to watch ACU host UT Arlington. The Wildcats were coming off a blowout loss at Utah Valley three days earlier. UT Arlington was coming in have won two straight including a road win at New Mexico State.
Well, Damien Daniels and company got the Wildcat swag back and ran the Mavericks back to Arlington with an 84-68 win.
Fast forward two weeks. ACU is now the hottest team in the WAC. The Wildcats have won four of their last five games. This impressive run includes a recent sweep of the West Coast road trip where the Wildcats looked dominant.
ACU used its chaotic style of play in an 83-68 win at Seattle U on Wednesday. The Wildcats held the Redhawks to just 19 points in the second half. Considering ACU’s offense is based off what happens on the defensive end, it’s safe to say the defense played well in the win over the Redhawks. Joe Pleasant had his best game of the season with 24 points and seven rebounds. In the win, ACU had more points in the paint and won the rebounding battle.
Three nights later at CBU Events Center, ACU found itself down by 11 with 7:52 left in the first half. However, Ja’Sean Jackson’s 3-pointer with 51 seconds left in the half cut the deficit to one going into the break.
Back-to-back jumpers from Ali Dibba and Tobias Cameron gave the Wildcats their first lead with 17:56 to play. And the Wildcats really got rolling with about 10:40 to play. Damien Daniels started an 11-2 run capped off by a Hunter Jack Madden 3-pointer to make it 63-51 with 8:12 to play.
That's 4⃣ from downtown for @lif3Airion!!
?https://t.co/eg9Ncjw1U8 #GoWildcats | #TougherTogether pic.twitter.com/kHV9E8mVBM
— ACU Men’s Basketball (@ACU_MBB) February 5, 2023
Damien Daniels put the icing on the cake with a 3-pointer with 51 seconds to play to cap off an impressive week.
ACU is 13-11 overall and 5-6 in WAC play. The Wildcats have a week off before hosting Sam Houston on Saturday. If we are being honest, ACU might have the most difficult finish to the regular season. The Wildcats host Sam Houston, then head to New Mexico State and Grand Canyon. ACU then returns home for a 3-game stretch against SFA, Utah Valley and New Mexico State. The Wildcats cap WAC play at Sam Houston on March 3.
Aggies Finally Get in the Win Column
The Aggies are back! Okay, not quite. But, getting a pair of wins at home may be the start New Mexico State needed in WAC play. Xavier Pinson and the Aggies finally got in the win column on Wednesday against SFA. The Aggies owned the glass and dominated points in the paint in Wednesday’s win.
Three nights later, New Mexico State found itself down 9-0 out of the gate against Seattle U. However, what a difference two weeks make. The Aggies didn’t flinch and finally found some offensive rhythm with an 11-2 run to take a 22-19 lead. New Mexico State shot 62.5 percent from the field in the first half and scored the second-most points in a half this season.
The Aggies used another run in the second half to push the lead to 17 with nine minutes left to play.
We know you wanted to see this again.? pic.twitter.com/01vI7oRb3t
— NM State MBB (@NMStateMBB) February 5, 2023
Perhaps the Aggies are starting to come together and play as a team. Beating two of the league’s top teams might be a sign of what’s to come down the stretch. The Aggies head to Phoenix for a Wednesday night battle at GCU Arena for the final time as WAC foes.
A win at GCU could really put the WAC on notice down the stretch.
Either way, the Aggies are in the win column in WAC play. And for now, that’s all that matters.
What is Going On in the Pacific Northwest?
Everything was going Seattle U’s way. The Redhawks were 7-0 in WAC play, had a road win at Utah Valley, a 21-point win over Southern Utah, and things were good. Most media platforms and CBB writers were starting to take notice of the Redhawks and the success to open WAC play.
But, then the trip happened. Yes, a similar trip to what the Redhawks had to take in 2021-22 after starting WAC play 8-0. And things did not go well in East Texas.
The Redhawks were just 9-50 from the field in a 55-40 loss at Sam Houston. Two nights later, the Redhawks shot the ball a little better. But, SFA shot it just as well in a 79-65 win.
Coming home, the Redhawks have been solid at both the Redhawk Center and Climate Pledge Arena. In fact, coming into Wednesday, the Redhawks were 9-0 at home. Well, the Redhawks are now 9-1 courtesy of a thumping at the hands of ACU. The Wildcats held the Redhawks to 19 second-half points en route to a 15-point win.
Three nights later, the free fall continued. The Redhawks got out to a 9-0 lead early on. But, that was about as good as it got for Seattle U. New Mexico State won its second straight game and made sure Seattle U would remain winless in Las Cruces.
Can the Redhawks right the ship? The good news is Seattle U plays three of its next four at home. Utah Tech comes to town on Wednesday at Climate Pledge Arena. Then, the Redhawks host GCU at the Redhawk Center. After a quick trip to CBU, the Redhawks return home to the Redhawk Center to host Utah Valley on Feb. 18.
The League is Fun, Isn’t It?
One thing I have said since the Summer is the league is deeper than it has been over the past 10 years. Nine teams have a chance to win the regular season crown. And WAC Vegas is going to be more entertaining than it has been in quite some time.
That sentiment is holding true after six weeks of WAC play. Just look at Saturday. The bottom five teams in the league, UT Arlington, ACU, Utah Tech, UTRGV and New Mexico State all won. Three of those wins came against top teams in the WAC.
KG finding Uno for the @FASTSIGNS North Arlington Statement Finish from the 1st half!@iam_kgibb || @Ch3ndalll pic.twitter.com/nStnSeotdz
— UTA Men’s Basketball (@UTAMavsMBB) February 4, 2023
Right now, six teams are within two games of each other for the regular season title. Four teams are within a game of each other for that final spot at WAC Vegas. It is wild. There is a likelihood that six teams could finish with 20-plus wins.
Out of 13 teams, only two are outside the top-200 in the NET. Two teams are in the top-100 as Sam Houston sits at 60 and Utah Valley sits at 80.
It is going to be a wild finish to the regular season. Make sure you get your tickets now for WAC Vegas. It’s going to be a good time!