The WAC Spotlight game features New Mexico State at Utah Valley.
Can Emmanuel Olojapoke and Utah Valley slow down New Mexico State in the WAC Spotlight Game on Thursday night in Orem? Courtesy of Wade Event Photography

Spotlight Game, Cellar Dwellers Highlight Thursday Night of WAC Hoops

It is another night of WAC hoops and the WAC Spotlight Game highlights what’s on tap Thursday. In fact, there are some big games happening Thursday night. Kansas City is looking to rebound from a rough road trip to the Southwest. Seattle and UTRGV are looking to keep up the winning momentum. And Grand Canyon and Chicago State are vying to move out of the WAC standings’ cellar. 

Add in that Utah Valley might be playing its biggest game of the season at home on Thursday night and it’s a pretty solid slate of games.

WAC Spotlight Game – New Mexico State at Utah Valley

The Aggies are red hot coming into Orem. New Mexico State has won six straight and all three of its WAC games thus far. Terrell Brown is starting to heat up. And the play of Trevelin Queen, Ivan Aurrecoechea and Johnny McCants have been stellar in WAC play. Head coach Chris Jans is worried about the offensive glass but says that is fixable. 

Utah Valley is looking to find some consistency and rebound from an ugly loss at Seattle on Saturday. The Wolverines had perhaps their worst shooting performance of the season against the Redhawks in a 33-point loss. Sitting at 1-2 in WAC play, Thursday night is perhaps the biggest game of the season for the Wolverines. First-year head coach Mark Madsen says the Wolverines have their work cut out for them. Chris Jans knows that Utah Valley plays its best against its toughest opponents so the Aggies are going to get the Wolverines’ best shot. 

Tune into ESPN+ to watch. Game tips off at 7 p.m. MT.

One-Loss Teams Do Battle in the Pacific Northwest – UTRGV at Seattle U

Sometimes those spotlight games are chosen way in advance. Otherwise, this would be the spotlight game. Both UTRGV and Seattle are on a bit of a roll having won their last two games. Both have dominant wins over Chicago State. Seattle blew out Utah Valley on Saturday while UTRGV beat up on Kansas City last Thursday. Both are led by stellar guard play. Javon Levi and Jordan Jackson lead the Vaqueros and Terrell Brown and Morgan Means anchor the Redhawks. 

The battle to keep an eye on here is Myles Carter vs. Lesley Varner II. Who wins that battle might dictate the outcome. Both teams sit at 2-1 in WAC play, so the winner will sit in a tie with California Baptist after all is said and done Thursday. 

Tune into the WAC Digital Network at 8 p.m. MT.

You Like Physical Play? Watch CSU Bakersfield at Kansas City

If you are a fan of physicality, hard-nose defense and a get after it mentality, tune into this gem. CSU Bakersfield head coach Rod Barnes is all about hard work, grit and getting after it on the basketball court.

The battle between Myles Carter (shooting) and Lesley Varner II is one to keep an eye on in the battle of one-loss teams. Courtesy Seattle U Athletics.

Kansas City head coach Billy Donlon doesn’t want his guys to shy away from a battle. And both are very invested in the defensive side of the floor. There will be quite a few whistles in the Swinney Center. But, there will also be some really good basketball. Jahshire Hardnett, Brandon McKissic and if he is healthy enough to return Javan White are looking to snap a 2-game losing streak. Keep an eye on Rob Whitfield Jr. who has been red hot from 3-point land recently for the ‘Roos. 

The Roadrunners counter with Taze Moore, Shawn Stith, De’Monte Buckingham and Czar Perry among others. Which ever team wins the free throw shooting battle is more than likely going to walk away with a win.

Watch this defensive gem on the WAC Digital Network at 6 p.m. MT

Battle for Last Place – Grand Canyon at Chicago State

It’s pretty safe to say there weren’t many people who saw Grand Canyon being in this conversation. But, it is two weeks into WAC play and here we are. The Lopes are struggling. Chicago State is struggling. Perhaps this should have been the spotlight game. It makes for good headlines. 

So, which team struggles more on Thursday night at the Jones Convocation Center? So many questions surround this game. Could a loss to Chicago State be the end of Dan Majerle down in the desert? Can Chicago State overcome its conference struggles and pick up a win in WAC play for the first time in forever? Okay, it’s not forever but it’s been a while since the Cougars won a WAC game. 

Watch this battle between the cellar dwellers on the WAC Digital Network. Tip-off is at 6 p.m. MT. 

About the author

Kyle McDonald

Love everything about WAC Hoops so decided I wanted to write more about it and cover this amazing conference that just keeps getting better. Follow us on Twitter @wachoopsdigest for information, game analysis and much more.

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