It is the third week of WAC play and once again we get an early week game on Tuesday night. The COVID chaos has led to games being rescheduled. And on Tuesday night, UTRGV travels to Nacogdoches to take on Stephen F. Austin in a makeup from the WAC opener for both teams.
Stephen F. Austin is coming off an emotional overtime loss at Tarleton on Saturday. The Jacks had four players foul out including big man Gavin Kensmil. But, SFA also turned the ball over 24 times in the loss to the Texans. Contributor Matt Adkins pointed out a major issue SFA has right now.
24 turnovers tonight for SFA. That’s 50 in the last two games. ?
— Matt Adkins ? (@CBB_RunThePoint) January 9, 2022
And Tarleton took advantage of those turnovers by scoring 24 points. The other major issue from Saturday is that the smaller Texans outscored the Jacks 44-32 in points in the paint. On Tuesday, against a UTRGV squad that likes to get up and down the floor, SFA has to take care of the basketball.
For the Vaqueros, the game plan will be similar to what it was last week. Get out in transition and go. Attack the rim and do what you can on the boards. UTRGV is playing without a pair of big men and usually has a 5-guard lineup on the floor. Perhaps that is why the Over/Under is set so high in this game at 153.5.
Mike Adewunmi has to continue to attack the rim for UTRGV. WAC Freshman of the Year candidate Justin Johnson is a scoring threat. So, it will be interesting to see how SFA handles the smaller lineup. It is very similar to Tarleton.
Game is set for 5:30 p.m. MT on ESPN+.
Whole Lot of Minutes
When Tarleton played at Utah Valley on New Year’s Day, I had to do a double take of Montre Gipson’s minutes. It is rather impressive while also a bit worrisome in the same sentence. At that point Gipson had played 39-plus minutes nine times and a full 40 minutes five times. That is kind of a crazy thought.
But, after sweeping the weekend, that number is now up to seven times of playing a full 40 minutes or more. Gipson played all 40 minutes in Tarleton’s win over Sam Houston on Thursday. And on Saturday, Gipson played all 45 minutes in the Texans overtime win against SFA.
What might be even more impressive, is that despite all the minutes, Gipson has yet to foul out of a ball game. Gipson is second on the team in scoring at 14.9 points. Along with the points, Gipson averages 5.1 rebounds and leads the team in assists with 50. According to KenPom, Gipson is third in the country in percentage of minutes played at 95.9.
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Montre Gipson leads the NATION in minutes played after going the distance vs. Sam Houston and Stephen F. Austin last weekend ?#TexanNation pic.twitter.com/s0HDGbg1Am
— Tarleton Men's Basketball (@TarletonMBB) January 11, 2022
Collins Puts on a Show in Return to Hometown
It is always fun to play in your hometown or at least your old stomping grounds. And for Chicago State guard Aaliyah Collins, that statement rang true on Monday afternoon. Collins had a career-high 26 points to go along with 10 rebounds as the Chicago State women beat Seattle 64-57 at the Redhawk Center.
The win for the Cougars is the first conference win under head coach Tiffany Sardin. It is also the first win at Seattle since the 2011 season.
“It’s on these women,” head coach Tiffany Sardin said. “They’re stepping up to the challenge that’s being put out to them.
“It feels amazing. These women are fighting and working hard. They are trusting the process. They are the epitome of hard work and staying the course.”
The double-double for Collins was the first of her career. And the 5’7 freshman guard from Snohomish, WA put on a clinic for the large contingent of family and friends on Monday. Collins was 9-17 from the field and 8-9 from the free throw line in the win.
“Aaliyah has been doing this for us all season,” Sardin said. “That’s why she came to us. She wants to be a part of what we’re doing. We’re thankful to have had her family sitting behind us, and they brought the energy.”
WAC Teams Getting Some Attention Around the Country
New Mexico State, Grand Canyon, Utah Valley and, up until this past week, Abilene Christian were all gaining some national attention.
? #WAChoops in this week's midmajor rankings:
Under the Radar Top 25
Mid-Major Top 25
24 @SUUBasketball (WAC 22-23)
RV @SFA_MBB @CBUmbb @ACU_MBB
Other Top 25
— Bill Harty (@BHartyNMSU) January 11, 2022
New Mexico State also has a NET ranking of 74. GCU and UVU are also in the top-100 of the NET at 83 and 91. As of Tuesday morning, all three teams are the only WAC schools with Quad I wins. All three schools are at the top of this week’s WAC Hoops Digest power rankings, too.