College Basketball Nation: Magnum Rolle

Utah State guts one out

February, 18, 2010
Utah State gained some separation from the rest of WAC after a 67-61 win against Louisiana Tech.

Pooh Williams scored all 15 of his points in the second half, as the Aggies (21-6) won their 11th straight game and 22nd straight home conference game.

And with Utah State up two with under a minute left, and Williams missing the front end of a one-and-one, Nate Bendall came up with the offensive rebound and three-point play.

Magnum Rolle scored 15, and Kyle Gibson added 14 for Louisiana Tech, which turned in a great effort in a hostile environment at the Spectrum that included "Shirtless Bill" dressed up like Peter Pan.

But the Bulldogs (20-6) fell into a third-place tie with Nevada in the conference. Utah State leads by a game and a half over New Mexico State.

Where things stand in the WAC

February, 17, 2010
Shortly after a stunning WAC-opening win against defending champion Utah State, New Mexico State forward Wendell McKines went on his blog and called out the team's fans for being "frontrunners" and failing to pack the house.

McKines eventually apologized for that and his arrest on a warrant for unpaid fines, but also wrote, "I really feel like something special is going to happen this year."

Lo and behold, attendance is up in Las Cruces as the Aggies have won seven of eight following McKines' online meltdown, are sitting only a game behind Utah State in the standings and could be the sleeper of the conference tournament.

The Aggies' high-powered offense features five players who average double figures, led by guard Jahmar Young (20.9 ppg). McKines (11.7 ppg) and forward Troy Gillenwater (15 ppg) both began the season academically ineligible, and their returns have sparked the team.

Louisiana Tech started 5-0 in conference play, but eventually fell back when New Mexico State completed the season sweep last week at home in front of 5,549 on an unlikely play -- Hernst Laroche's game-winning jumper with 1.1 seconds left.

That leaves perennial postseason team Utah State at the top and gives New Mexico State at least a shot to make itself heard down the stretch.

Top Players

Paul George, G/F, Fresno State, So. -- How good he George? After missing four games with a severely sprained ankle, he dropped 30 on New Mexico State in his first game back last week.

Luke Babbitt, F, Nevada, So. -- The 6-foot-9 lefty leads the WAC with 9.6 rebounds per game and can score from all over the court, averaging 21.6 points per game.

Armon Johnson, G, Nevada, Jr. -- Johnson is the reigning WAC player of the week after scoring 23, including the game-winning bucket against Idaho, and leads the conference in assists.

Who's Hot

Adrian Oliver, G, San Jose State, Jr. -- The transfer from Washington poured in 28 points on Saturday against Utah State, the most by an Aggies opponent this season.

Mac Hopson, G, Idaho, Sr. -- In the three games since being suspended for a curfew violation, he's scored in double figures and had 20 in Saturday's win at Fresno State.

Magnum Rolle, C/F, Louisiana Tech, Sr. -- The 6-foot-11 transfer from LSU by way of the Bahamas has been especially dominant on the offensive glass.

Who's not

Hawaii -- Second-leading scorer Dwain Williams has been suspended indefinitely, and fourth-leading scorer Jeremy Lay is set to undergo season-ending hernia surgery, as the Warriors have lost seven straight.

Boise State -- The Broncos haven't won this month, but hope they can have better luck with upcoming nonconference opponents Cal State Bakersfield and UC Davis.

Idaho -- The Vandals' one-point loss to Nevada last week left coach Don Verlin declaring his team was no "doormat," complaining about the officiating and earning a reprimand from WAC conference commissioner Karl Benson.

Key games to watch

Feb. 20 -- Louisiana Tech at Northeastern: Utah State lost in Boston in November, so it'll be interesting to see if the Bulldogs can steal a BracketBuster win there.

Feb. 25 -- Nevada at San Jose State: Oliver and Babbitt, the conference's top two scorers, square off in what could be a high-scoring affair three nights after Oliver goes up against Seattle's Charles Garcia.

March 6 -- New Mexico State at Utah State: This could be the deciding game for the regular-season championship, but Utah State is riding a 21-game conference winning streak at the Spectrum.

Inside Tuesday's box scores

December, 30, 2009

1. Kentucky's John Wall set a school record with 16 assists in the Wildcats' win over Hartford. He broke Travis Ford's record of 15 set in 1993 against Eastern Kentucky. Wall's 16 assists are the most by a Division-I player this season, and the most since Pittsburgh's Levance Fields also had 16 last February. Wall is now averaging 7.5 APG, second in the nation to Siena's Ronald Moore (who had a mere 12 assists on Tuesday). In addition to the huge assist total, Wall tied a career-low with just one turnover. He also failed to score in double figures for the first time in his career, a minor footnote on a historic night.

2. Ryan Wittman and Cornell are making a lot of noise in the Ivy League. Wittman, the son of former NBA player and coach Randy Wittman, scored a career-high 34 points Tuesday in Cornell's 78-75 win at La Salle. Wittman also set Cornell's all-time scoring record in the game, surpassing John Bajusz's 1,663 points. The Big Red won their eighth straight despite missing a pair of starters. Cornell is 10-2 despite having only played two home games. It is now 6-1 in true road games, including wins at St. John's, Massachusetts and Alabama.

3. Wall may be getting the majority of the press, but what DeMarcus Cousins is doing is fairly astonishing. The freshman big man scored 19 points and added 12 rebounds on Tuesday for his seventh double-double this season. He did so in just 19 minutes. In fact, he has played fewer than 20 minutes in each of his last three games, all double-doubles. While battling foul trouble (though he had no fouls Tuesday), Cousins is averaging only 18.7 minutes per game this season. But in that time, he is also averaging 15.2 PPG and 9.0 RPG. That makes him the most efficient scorer and rebounder in the nation. Cousins is averaging 32.5 points per 40 minutes, first in the nation ahead of Seattle's Charles Garcia, and 19.2 rebounds per 40 minutes, first in the nation ahead of Duke's Brian Zoubek.

4. Seton Hall suffered its second tough conference loss in four days when it fell to Syracuse 80-73. But no one can blame those losses on not getting the ball in the hands of its superstar. Days after scoring a career-high 41 points against West Virginia, Jeremy Hazell poured in 38 on Tuesday. Hazell has attempted 64 shots (including 34 treys) in those two Big East games. His 33 attempts on Saturday were the most by a player this season. Tuesday's 31 attempts are tied for the second most in a game. There were 26 teams that attempted fewer 3s than Hazell's 15 on Tuesday.

5. Louisiana Tech improved to 12-2 with a 99-94 win at Houston on Tuesday. Rebounding was the story of the game, as the Bulldogs held a 55-32 edge on the boards. Olu Ashaolu had a career-high 21 rebounds, the fifth most in Division-I this season, to go with 17 points. Louisiana Tech got 98 of its 99 points from its starters, the third most points in a game for a starting lineup this season. Former LSU big man Magnum Rolle scored a career-high 29 points on 13-for-15 from the field.