OREM — Utah Valley big man Fardaws Aimaq and New Mexico State guard Teddy Allen are leading candidates for WAC Player of the Year honors. And on Saturday at the UCCU Center in Orem, two of the WAC’s best went head-to-head. And in true fashion, both players lived up to the hype.
Allen finished with 24 points, 11 rebounds and five assists. And Aimaq had 23 points, 12 rebounds and five assists. It was the 21st double-double for Aimaq who leads the nation in that category. And for Allen, it was the sixth straight game he has scored 20-plus points.
Unfortunately, only one team could win on Saturday.
Aimaq’s rebound off a Teddy Allen intentional free throw miss and subsequent free throws sealed a 72-68 win for the Wolverines.
Utah Valley improves to 16-8 overall and 7-5 in WAC play. New Mexico State falls to 20-4 overall and 9-2 in WAC play.
It was a tale of two halves. New Mexico State couldn’t buy a bucket in the first half, shooting just 25 percent from the field. Utah Valley, on the other hand, knocked down six 3-pointers including an Aimaq three to end the half and take a 32-23 lead into the break.
And for about 10 minutes in the second half, the sloppiness continued.
Fardaws Aimaq’s jumper with 10:06 to play gave the Wolverines a 14-point lead. But that is where things heated up.
Mike Peake and Jabari Rice knocked down back-to-back buckets. And Rice hit a 3-pointer to cut the deficit to eight with 8:09 to play. And over the next four minutes, both teams went back and forth as the offense for both teams ramped up. Aimaq hit a pair of jumpers. Allen knocked down some driving layups and back and forth they went.
Teddy Allen actually scored 19 of his 24 points in the second half. And Aimaq had 13 of his 23 in the second half, as well. Yes, the hype is real.
Will McNair’s and-1 conversion with 2:20 to play cut it to a six-point game. And Teddy Allen’s driving layup made it a 63-58 game with 52 seconds to play. Mike Peake’s 3-pointer with 32 seconds to play made it a 4-point game. Teddy Allen hit another driving layup with nine seconds to play that cut it to a 2-point game.
And after Asa McCord hit one of two free throws on the other end, Utah Valley fouled Teddy Allen before he could get up a 3-point attempt with three seconds to play. Allen hit the first and intentionally missed the second. Aimaq pulled down the board amidst New Mexico State looking for a foul and proceeded to hit a pair of free throws to seal the win.
There was a lot of hype surrounding Saturday. And for good reason.
Blaze Nield had 14 points and six assists for Utah Valley. Justin Harmon had 17 points and Connor Harding had 10 points for the Wolverines. Mike Peake had 16 points and Jabari Rice finished with 10 points for the Aggies.
New Mexico State heads home to host Dixie State on Wednesday before heading to Phoenix for a big showdown next Saturday at GCU. Utah Valley goes on the road at Tarleton on Wednesday and at Dixie State on Saturday.
Story will be updated with quotes