There are two games in the Western Athletic Conference being broadcast on ESPNU in 2022-23.
The first of those two games takes place Friday night in Phoenix.
Once again, the GCU Havocs will be on display on the ESPN linear family of networks. GCU hosts Abilene Christian on Friday night in front of a national audience on ESPNU.
Question is: which GCU squad will that national audience see on ESPNU? The team that has lost two straight? Or the team that went into Huntsville and got a huge Quad 1 road win at Sam Houston?
Let’s recap the past two GCU games. On Saturday at Seattle U, Walt Ellis knocked down a 3-pointer with 7:15 to play to give the Lopes a 56-47 lead.
With Rayshon Harrison, a 9-point lead late in a ball game should suffice.
However, GCU scored just two points over the final seven minutes and the Redhawks took advantage. Alex Schumacher hit a 3-pointer with 22 seconds remaining to give Seattle U the lead for good in the 63-58 win.
On Wednesday night in Phoenix, Ray Harrison made the play of the game with 25 seconds remaining. Harrison grabbed his own miss, and knocked down a jumper with 25 seconds left to give GCU a 76-75 lead.
UTRGV had one opportunity to win. Everyone at GCU Arena knew the ball would be in Justin Johnson’s hands. It was. And when Johnson threw up an errant layup with three seconds left, it looked like GCU was going to escape.
Not so fast.
Daylen Williams came down with the offensive board, and shocked the GCU crowd with the put back to give UTRGV a 77-76 lead with 1.4 seconds remaining. Williams intentionally missed the free throw attempt and UTRGV stunned the 6,039 fans at GCU Arena.
So, before a national audience late on Friday night, which GCU team will we see?
It won’t be easy with ACU having a week to prepare for the Lopes. Technically, ACU was supposed to play New Mexico State Wednesday. However, we all know why that game was not played.
ACU is coming off a 77-62 loss at home to Sam Houston on Saturday. It was the first time in three games the Wildcats failed to score 80-plus points. Brette Tanner’s crew has been playing much better as of late. The Wildcats have won four out of their last six games, letting their defense lead to a lot of offense.
Friday night will feature two teams with very different styles of play. ACU wants to create chaos…we have said that a lot this season. It is a staple of the Wildcats under Brette Tanner. Damien Daniels has over 200 steals in his career at ACU so you know they like to get after teams on the perimeter.
Keep an eye on the paint. Who wins the rebounding battle? Gabe McGlothan and Yvan Ouedraogo get after the offensive glass. Can Joe Pleasant, Tobias Cameron, Cam Steele and Airion Simmons slow their opponents down?
Tip is set for 9 p.m. MT on ESPNU.
Utah Tech at Southern Utah – 7 p.m. MT ESPN+
Rivalry games are fun. In-state games are fun. Two teams, separated by 50 miles, playing each other as conference foes. It’s fun!
It all goes down on Friday night at the America First Events Center. Southern Utah is looking to keep a firm hold on its top-4 seed. Utah Tech is looking for a signature win.
The Trailblazers won the first meeting between the two schools just under two weeks ago in St. George.
Cam Gooden had 16 points in the first half as the Trailblazers shot 60 percent from the field before halftime.
Cam Healy tried to get SUU back in the game, knocking down four straight 3-pointers as part of a 15-0 SUU run.
However, SUU could not get over the hump and Utah Tech held on for the 86-79 win.
Want to hear the good news, SUU fans? The last time Utah Tech beat SUU in St. George, the T-Birds came home and clobbered the Trailblazers.
Yes, Utah Tech beat SUU, 83-76, in St. George on Nov. 12, 2021. A little over a month later, in the return trip to Cedar City, the T-Birds ran the Trailblazers back to St. George in an 87-59 win.
The series is tied at two apiece. SUU has won both games in Cedar City while Utah Tech has won both games in St. George.
If that trend continues, SUU should keep hold of its top-4 seed on Friday night.