It is another WAC Wednesday as four schools are in action. With three games on the WAC Digital Network and another on the SEC Network, it will be a fun and exciting night of WAC Hoops.
Tarleton State and Dixie State are both in action on Wednesday. The Texans are in for a huge challenge while Dixie State opens its Division I era against a Summit League opponent..
California Baptist is looking to show its season-opening thriller at USC was no fluke. And UTRGV has another winnable game on Wednesday night.
The outlier is Utah Valley who hosts an in-state NAIA foe without two of its big men once again.
Let’s talk about each matchup.
Tarleton State at Texas A&M – 5 p.m. MST on SEC Network
Wednesday night will provide fans and media the opportunity to learn more about Tarleton State. The Texans destroyed non-DI foe Dallas Christian in their first game at the Division I level on Nov. 25. Their reward? A trip to College Station and the old stomping grounds of head coach Billy Gillispie.
“It’s a great university and we came in at a time when they hadn’t had a whole lot of recent success,” Gillispie said about Texas A&M. “I had a great time there. I inherited three guys that by next December will be put into the Texas A&M Hall of Fame athletically.”
Gillispie continued reminiscing on his coaches show.
“I have great memories. So many great friends to this day. So, it will be a fun game but it’s about a competition. It’s not about a return. That’s part of it but it’s a very small part of it. It’s about Tarleton State taking their team over, playing Texas A&M on Wednesday night at 6 o’clock.”
Junior guard Tahj Small led the Texans with 18 points and nine rebounds in the opener. Four other Texans were in double figures in the big win.
Wednesday night will be a challenge for Tarleton State. Texas A&M is a 25-point favorite that won its opener 82-53 over New Orleans. Senior guard Quentin Jackson had a career-high 28 points to go along with seven rebounds in the Aggies’ first win of 2020-21.
Southeast Louisiana at California Baptist – 6 p.m. MST on WAC Digital Network
On Tuesday, California Baptist’s season-opening opponent USC put a beatdown on BYU.
That blowout win by the Trojans shows just how impressive the Lancers were on Nov. 25. CBU took USC to overtime after perhaps giving away a win late in regulation. The Lancers hit 20 3-pointers in the contest. Point guard Ty Rowell had a career-high 32 points and hit big shot after big shot.
Ultimately it wasn’t enough but that battle in the season-opener proved to many to never underestimate the Lancers.
Now, CBU can make the loss to USC seem even more legit on Wednesday night. The Lancers host SE Louisiana in a game that shouldn’t really be close. Yes, CBU probably won’t shoot 60 percent from the 3-point line on Wednesday night.
But, Gorjok Gak should have a field day in the paint. Rowell, Mark Carbone, Reed Nottage and Tre Armstrong will spread the floor with their ability to shoot. And perhaps tonight is a night when Malik Wade and Te’Jon Sawyer can show why head coach Rick Croy is so high on his freshman.
CBU is an 8.5-point favorite tonight but the Lancers should win this one comfortably.
Westminster at Utah Valley – 6 p.m. MST on WAC Digital Network
For the second time in three games, Utah Valley hosts a non-DI opponent. On Wednesday night, Division II foe Westminster drives down I-15 to take on the Wolverines at the UCCU Center. Utah Valley hosted Westminster in 2019-20 in Mark Madsen’s first official game as a head coach. The Wolverines won 72-55.
And there is no real reason to believe the Wolverines won’t win again in 2020-21. Perhaps the biggest concern is who will step up to take pressure off the dynamic duo of Trey Woodbury and Jamison Overton?
Against Adams State in the season opener, Fardaws Aimaq was that guy. Aimaq finished with 24 points and 18 rebounds. However, two nights later against BYU, Aimaq was just 1-9 from the field and finished with 3 points.
There is potential for Utah Valley to be a very good basketball team. But, Jordan Brinson, Le’Tre Darthard and Aimaq need to step up consistently. That shouldn’t be a problem against a smaller Westminster team. But, following Westminster, the schedule gets a bit more difficult.
Utah Valley faces Southern Utah, Wyoming, Utah, Idaho State and Air Force over its next five games. Finding some rhythm and consistency on Wednesday night is going to be key going into that 5-game stretch.
Texas A&M-Corpus Christi at UTRGV – 6 p.m. MST on WAC Digital Network
The South Texas Showdown is coming to the Bert Ogden Arena on Wednesday night.
UTRGV is coming off the best non-conference win for WAC Hoops with an 81-64 win over Conference USA foe UTSA.
Sean Rhea had a career-high 20 points as the Vaqueros used a big second half to knock off the Roadrunners. Uche Dibiamaka finished with 15 points while Quinton Johnson II and Javon Levi both finished in double figures, as well.
Look for UTRGV to do more of what it does best: full-court pressure defense and then get out in transition on the offensive side. Javon Levi is one of the top assist men in the WAC. Levi is tied for 15th in the WAC in assists. And when Levi records 11 more assists, he will move in front of former BYU star and Celtics GM Danny Ainge.
A&M-CC is 1-2 on the 2020-21 season. The Islands are coming off back-to-back losses against Texas State and at SMU. Keep an eye on the battle between Javon Levi and A&M-CC guard Rasheed Browne who averages 13.0 points and 5.3 boards per game.
North Dakota at Dixie State – 7 p.m. MST on WAC Digital Network
FINALLY!!! Okay, I know that COVID has created some chaos in 2020. Dixie State was supposed to play its first Division I game on Nov. 28 but the in-state game against Weber State was cancelled. Now, the Trailblazers finally get to take the floor. Dixie State hosts North Dakota and I must say that I applaud Jon Judkins and his staff for not scheduling a cupcake to open the Division I era.
Dixie State features a solid home-court advantage at the Burns Arena. In fact, since joining the NCAA ranks in 2006-07, the Trailblazers have an .823 winning percentage at home. Dixie State will need to feed off the home court against the Fighting Hawks. Frank Staine, Dason Youngblood, and Hunter Schofield all return for Judkins as does Jarod Greene.
Yes, Dixie State is a 2.5-point underdog but, don’t be surprised if the Trailblazers get the first win of the Division I-era on Wednesday night.