Aziz Bandaogo is extremely tall. Bandaogo is also extremely athletic. And WAC Wednesday was Bandaogo’s birthday.
So athletic, in fact, that in nearly every game in the 2022-23 season, Bandaogo has had a reverse alley-oop dunk.
On WAC Wednesday, on his birthday, Bandaogo had a pair of reverse alley-oop dunks.
It was all part of another double-double for the 7-foot transfer from Akron.
Bandaogo finished with 10 points and 14 rebounds as Utah Valley got back in the win column with a 84-54 win over Abilene Christian on Wednesday night at the UCCU Center.
Following Leonardo Bettiol’s layup, Bandaogo got in the scoring column with the first of his two reverse alley-oop dunks.
Off the pick and roll, Blaze Nield found Bandaogo in front of the basket, tossed it up and let Utah Valley’s big man go get it.
The first alley-oop gave Utah Valley a 32-19 lead with 3:08 to play.
Bandaogo’s second dunk of the half gave the Wolverines a 36-20 lead at the break.
And, whatever adjustments Mark Madsen made at halftime, they worked to perfection.
Bandaogo started off the second half with his second alley-oop dunk. And Utah Valley was off and running.
Tim Ceaser, Le’Tre Darthard and Justin Harmon knocked down 3-pointers on consecutive possessions and all of a sudden it was a 20-point lead with just over 15 minutes to play.
Back-to-back buckets by Joe Pleasant cut into the lead.
But, Bandaogo responded with another dunk to push the lead back to 19 with 14:58 to play.
Le’Tre Darthard’s 3-pointer with 13:31 to play pushed the lead to 24.
And from there, Utah Valley cruised to its largest win of the season over a Division I opponent.
“The style of play Abilene Christian plays with is aggressive and physical,” said Utah Valley head coach Mark Madsen. “The score is not indicative of the toughness of Abilene and the sets they run. Nothing but respect for Abilene. I was proud of our guys. I was proud of the way they shared the ball with the 27 assists and the seven guys in double figures. Seattle U came to our home court and beat us on Saturday and outplayed us so we’ve had some intense film sessions and intense practices and our guys responded.”
Tahj Small actually led Utah Valley in scoring at 13 points. Along with Small and Bandaogo, five other Wolverines were in double figures.
Justin Harmon had 12 points. Tim Ceaser had 11 points. And Le’Tre Darthard, Blaze Nield, and Trey Woodbury each had 10 points for the Wolverines.
Manny Allen and Cam Steele each had nine points for ACU, who suffered its fourth straight conference loss.
Utah Valley improves to 15-5 overall and 6-1 in WAC play. The Wolverines head to the desert on Saturday for a showdown at GCU.
ACU heads home to get ready to host UT Arlington on Saturday.