It is another WAC Wednesday. And with it comes a trio of statement opportunities. Three road games and as we all know, road wins hold a lot more value than home wins. So, with the new WAC seeding system in place, Wednesday is a statement opportunity for three teams.
There is one Quad 1 opportunity on the slate. Another team has a Quad 3 opportunity. And finally, the third team has a Quad 4 opportunity.
For the latter two, opportunity might not be the right word. Must-win game might be the correct phrase. As much as road wins hold more value than home wins, that value can be diminished in an instant with a Quad 3 or Quad 4 loss even if it is on the road.
Let’s take a look at each game on the WAC Wednesday slate.
SFA at Louisiana Tech – 6 p.m. CT ESPNU
Wednesday night’s statement opportunity is a big one for SFA. Sure, it is a Quad 3 game as La. Tech is 163 in the NET. But, it is also a return to where it all started for head coach Kyle Keller. From 1990-1994, Keller was an assistant at La. Tech. Keller helped the Bulldogs win the American South Conference tournament in 1991 to earn a trip to the NCAA Tournament. The Bulldogs were a 12-seed and lost to 5-seed Wake Forest in the Round of 64.
So, there is that tie. Along with that, SFA needs a win in what is a big week for the Jacks. Sitting at 3-4 overall, injury-depleted, and facing a difficult two-game stretch, the Jacks have a big statement opportunity this week. LaTrell Jossell returned from injury on Sunday to score 15 points in 14 minutes. All 15 points came from the 3-point line as Jossell knocked down five 3-pointers. Roti Ware is battling calf and ankle injuries but still had 10 points on Sunday.
Keller’s squad is just beat up. Jaylin Jackson-Posey has a broken hand and will not play on Wednesday. Jalil Beaubrun has a broken foot and is out. So, SFA is going into Denton with seven and a half healthy players. It would be a full eight if Robbie Armbrester wasn’t on a minutes restriction as he deals with a case of plantar fascia.
Staying out of foul trouble will be key on Wednesday night in a statement opportunity over a Conference USA foe. And Kyle Keller would love nothing less than to be able to walk out of the place where his coaching career began than with a win over the Bulldogs.
Sam Houston at Louisiana Monroe – 6:30 CT ESPN+
This is a statement opportunity for a variety of reasons for the Sam Houston Bearkats. First, are the Bearkats for real? Sure, they have the buzzer-beating win at Oklahoma. And they have the really good road win over Utah. Then, there was the throttling of Northern Illinois and South Dakota to win the Fort Myers Classic.
But, the offensive struggles were apparent in an 18-point loss at Nevada and a 14-point loss at Oklahoma State.
Still, Sam Houston is 7-2 overall. And a win at Louisiana Monroe won’t move the needle significantly, it is still a Division I game and opportunity to pick up another win. In fact, because Louisiana Monroe sits at 349 in the NET, Wednesday night is a must-win for the Bearkats. With Sam Houston sitting at 23 in the NET and atop the WAC seeding system, this is not a game the Bearkats can afford to lose.
Qua Grant and Donte Powers can score. The question is: who can step up besides them to take the full burden off their shoulders? Cam Huefner has shown glimpses. Lamar Wilkerson has shown potential. But, the consistency has to set in.
Perhaps Wednesday night is a good opportunity for that to happen. The Warhawks give up almost 72 points per game. So, the Bearkats have to find an offensive rhythm to pick up a win at the Fant-Ewing Coliseum on Wednesday night.
New Mexico State at Saint Mary’s – 8 p.m. MT The WCC Network
It is a shame that this game could not be the late game on the ESPN family of networks. Because this is going to be an entertaining one at University Credit Union Pavilion in Moraga. Saint Mary’s sits at 15 in the NET. The Gaels are in a two-game winning streak with wins over Missouri State and No. 22 San Diego State.
New Mexico State comes in, fresh off a 73-60 win at Duquesne. The road win in Pittsburgh vaulted the Aggies into the top-100 of the NET. And Wednesday’s statement opportunity could produce the highest value of any WAC non-conference game of the season.
That is, if Deshawndre Washington, Xavier Pinson, Quayè Gordon and company can hang with the Gaels. Perhaps the Aggies can do what their rival New Mexico did on Dec. 1. New Mexico’s guards, including Jaelen House, shot the ball extremely well in a 69-65 win over the Gaels in Moraga.
Can New Mexico State make it two-for-two for the Land of Enchantment? Washington and Pinson average a little over 26 points combined per game. Issa Muhammad also averages in double figures. And Muhammad might be the most important piece of the puzzle for the Aggies on Wednesday night. Muhammad will be battling St. Mary’s big man Mitchell Saxon most of the night. Saxon averages 13.2 points and 8.4 rebounds per contest.
So, you have the three-headed monster for the Aggies against the three-headed monster for the Gaels. Washington, Pinson, and Muhammad vs. Alex Ducas, Aidan Mahaney and Mitchell Saxon.
It should be an entertaining statement opportunity for the Aggies to end a solid WAC Wednesday.