WAC Wednesday
Justin Harmon and Utah Valley head up University Parkway to take on BYU on WAC Wednesday. Courtesy UVU Athletics.

MBB: WAC Wednesday Features Mid-Major Opponents

It is another WAC Wednesday. And with that, there is an opportunity to get some quality wins against other mid-major opponents. Four games and all four are against mid-major foes.

There is a crosstown showdown in Provo, Utah on WAC Wednesday. There are a pair of games against teams from the West Coast Conference. And another opportunity for a win over Weber State out of the Big Sky.

One team has dealt with some negative adversity over the past two weeks. How will they respond? Another team is hoping to have its starting point guard back after missing a big win on Saturday. Can another school find some offense against one of the worst defensive teams in the country?

So many questions on this WAC Wednesday. So, let’s take a look at each game.

Utah Valley at BYU – 7 p.m. MT BYUTV

The UCCU Crosstown Showdown is back. And it might be the last game in the series for quite some time. At least, that is, if Utah Valley can pull off another upset win over the Cougars. In the 2021 meeting, Fardaws Aimaq had 24 points and 22 rebounds in the 72-65 overtime win over a ranked BYU squad. Justin Harmon burst onto the scene for the Wolverines on that Dec. 1 evening. Harmon came off the bench to score 24 points and pull down seven rebounds.

How will Utah Valley respond in 2022? The matchup to watch on Wednesday night at the Marriott Center will be in the paint. Utah Valley’s Aziz Bandaogo against BYU’s Atiki Ally Atiki. 7-footer vs. 6-10. Ally Atiki is one of the best shot blockers in the West Coast Conference. And Bandaogo has athleticism, and likes to finish around the rim.

We all know Utah Valley has veteran guards in Harmon, Trey Woodbury, Le’Tre Darthard, Blaze Nield, and Tahj Small. BYU has Spencer Johnson, Trevin Knell and Gideon George on the other side of the floor. Expect George to guard Trey Woodbury on Wednesday night.

But keep an eye on that battle in the paint. Utah Valley has an advantage down low. Will they make the most of it on Wednesday night in a hostile environment? With BYU moving to the Big 12, the series has yet to be renewed past 2022. So, this might be the last time for a while for either team to get a win and Utah County bragging rights.

Loyola Marymount at Grand Canyon – 7 p.m. MT ESPN+

7-2. Four games on the non-conference slate left. A Quad 2 opportunity at home. Against a West Coast Conference opponent. What will GCU do for an encore on WAC Wednesday after a big road win at Wyoming?

Perhaps the bigger question is if Jovan Blacksher Jr. will be good enough to go on Wednesday night. Blacksher Jr. injured his ankle in the win over Alcorn State on Nov. 30 and then missed the game in Laramie on Saturday. That’s really what makes the win over Wyoming even more impressive.

GCU is one of the best defensive teams in the country. The Lopes are 8th in the country in opponent field goal percentage, holding opponents to just 36 percent shooting. GCU also holds opponents to 30.6 percent from 3-point land.

Rayshon Harrison has finally started to be the Rayshon Harrison GCU fans expected. Harrison had 21 points in the win over Wyoming and is averaging a little over 17 points per game in his last three contests. Chance McMillian has been really good as the Sixth Man. Gabe McGlothan is doing Gabe McGlothan things. And Yvan Ouedraogo has been the paint presence GCU needs. UNLV transfer Josh Baker has been a key contributor, as well.

Loyola Marymount sits at 100 in the current NET rankings. So, this is a Quad 2 opportunity at home for the Lopes. With just three games left on the non-conference slate after WAC Wednesday, this is a big one, especially with North Texas coming to Phoenix on Saturday.

New Mexico State at Santa Clara – 8 p.m. MT WCC Network

There has been a lot of negative attention surrounding the New Mexico State men’s basketball team. Especially since Monday when bits and pieces of the police report surrounding the Mike Peake incident were released. So, how will the Aggies respond on WAC Wednesday? The last time there was some heat two weeks ago, the Aggies responded with a double digit win over San Diego in Las Vegas.

But, the Aggies will be without Anthony Roy who had a team-high 23 points in the Aggies’ win over UTEP on Saturday. Roy is arguably the best 3-pointer shooter on the New Mexico State roster but will miss Wednesday night’s contest due to ‘personal reasons’ per the school.

Xavier Pinson and Deshawndre Washington have been really good for Greg Heiar. Pinson and Washington account for a little over 25 points per game and nearly half of the Aggie rebounds. Washington leads the Aggies in assists at 5.8 per game and Pinson dishes out a little over four assists per game.

Perhaps Wednesday night at the Leavey Center, the Aggies will feel a sense of peace being on the basketball court. The question is: which Aggie team will we see? The one that dominated UTEP from start to finish? Or the one who struggled defensively to stop some lightning quick guards in a loss to UC Irvine?

Wednesday night is part of a long 3-game road trip for the Aggies. Starting the trip on a high note presents a big opportunity Wednesday night.

Weber State at California Baptist – 8 p.m. MT ESPN+/Fox Sports AM 1350

Saturday night was not a good night for the Lancers. In fact, the 64-53 loss at Cal Poly was a bad one. Let’s just be honest about that.

And with that being said, the CBU offense has struggled so far in 2022-23. Even in a 65-60 win over UC Riverside, it took some second half heroics to get the crosstown win. The best game the Lancers have played was the 73-64 win over Washington. CBU knocked down timely shots, got stops when it needed to, and controlled the second half.

But, the lack of consistency has been the m.o. for the Lancers in 2022-23.

WAC Wednesday night presents an opportunity for a struggle Lancer offense to find its rhythm. Weber State is one of the worst defensive teams in the country. The Wildcats allow almost 74 points per game, allow teams to shoot over 50 percent from the field and 43 percent from distance.

Wednesday night at the CBU Events Center has to be the game the Lancers find that offensive consistency. Fans know Taran Armstrong, Joe Quintana and Hunter Goodrick have been really good for the Lancers, thus far. Riley Battin has shot the ball well at times.

The two players to keep an eye on are Tre Armstrong and Reed Nottage. Guards who can shoot it well, yet, haven’t shot it well in 2022-23. Wednesday night is an opportunity for both of them to get going. And with a trip to San Diego on Saturday looming, Wednesday would be as good of a time as any to get some confidence back.

 

About the author

Kyle McDonald

Love everything about WAC Hoops so decided I wanted to write more about it and cover this amazing conference that just keeps getting better. Follow us on Twitter @wachoopsdigest for information, game analysis and much more.

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