How will Josh Baker and GCU respond Thursday night after losing their team leader for the season? Courtesy GCU Athletics.

WAC Play Rolls On With Four Games on Thursday

If, after Wednesday night, you didn’t realize the WAC was a fun league to watch, then perhaps a busy Thursday slate will change your mind.

Two of the three undefeated teams will be in action on Thursday. Both newcomers play arguably their toughest games, yet. And two teams are looking to get in the win column in league play on the road. It is going to be another wild night of WAC Hoops.

And when we say another, we mean another. Did you see what Trey Woodbury did last night to help UVU pick up its 11th straight win? Or maybe you saw where ACU forced 26 UTRGV turnovers, yet, the Vaqueros came away with a 17-point win.

So what will Thursday do for an encore?

UT Arlington at Grand Canyon – 7 p.m. MT ESPN+

The newcomers to the WAC get to face the Havocs for the first time. It will be interesting to see what the reaction will be. Greg Young’s squad has yet to win a league game. Sure, the Mavs have been close. But, they have yet to get over the hump. And doing so in Phoenix may be a tough ask. The biggest thing for the Mavericks is they have to find ‘The Guy’. Someone who Greg Young can give the ball to in order to make a play at the end of ball games. Right now, the Mavericks don’t have that. So, keep an eye on that.

However, GCU is dealing with its own adversity. A 1-1 trip to East Texas was costly. Yes, the Lopes got a huge Quad 1 road win over Sam Houston. But, Jovan Blacksher Jr. suffered a torn ACL in the win and will miss the remainder of the 2022-23 season.

So, who will step into the point guard role for the Lopes? Josh Baker and Chance McMillian will most likely see their roles increase. And Kobe Knox will see more floor time, as well. Ray Harrison has been carrying the Lopes and will have to do so again on Thursday night.

Update: UT Arlington had an adventure getting to GCU Arena tonight. First, the team bus got a flat tire. So, the Mavericks had to Uber to the arena. And then golf carts gave them a ride to the arena. 

Sam Houston at Southern Utah – 7 p.m. MT ESPN+

This might be the game of the night. Southern Utah is 3-1 in WAC play. Sam Houston is 2-2. The Bearkats are the highest ranked NET team to come into the America First Events Center in quite some time. This game features a WAC Player of the Year candidate Tevian Jones. And it also features one of the best defensive teams in the WAC.

Southern Utah likes to score a lot of points. And Sam Houston likes to put on the defensive clamps.

Both squads are full of veterans who have stuck around. And both are led by high-quality coaches in Jason Hooten and Todd Simon. With students back on campus, the atmosphere should be electric. SUU guard Harrison Butler and Sam Houston G/F Cam Huefner may be the players to watch on Thursday night.

Whoever has the better game, gives their team a better chance to win a big time league game in mid-January.

Stephen F. Austin at Utah Tech – 7 p.m. MT ESPN+

This is another intriguing Thursday night matchup. The Burns will be lit as the Utah Tech students are back on campus and ready to go. SFA comes in having won 14 straight WAC regular season games. The Jacks are fresh off a home sweep of New Mexico State and Grand Canyon. And SFA is finally getting healthy.

Utah Tech has some injury questions. Point guard Cam Gooden has missed the past two games with a thigh injury. There is no update on his status, yet. But, the Trailblazers need him to go tonight if they are to have a chance to stun the world.

Keep an eye on Tanner Christensen. The Utah Tech big man could have a big night considering the Jacks are not deep in the paint. Utah Tech wins a lot of games at Burns Arena. SFA is one of the best road teams in America.

And you have two coaches going head-to-head that know how to win in Jon Judkins and Kyle Keller. This is going to be a Thursday night street fight at the Burns Arena.

UPDATE: Cam Gooden will not play for Utah Tech tonight. 

New Mexico State at Seattle U – 7 p.m. PT ESPN+

The Aggies have never been 0-5 in league play. Like…EVER. But, if something doesn’t change and change quick, the Aggies could be 0-5 after Thursday night. Seattle U has won three straight WAC games, including a Texas sweep of UTRGV and UT Arlington this past week.

Cam Tyson is one of the best scorers and 3-point shooters in the WAC. And New Mexico State doesn’t necessarily guard the 3-point line very well.

Xavier Pinson and Deshawndre Washington have played well at times for the Aggies. But, when adversity strikes, things go South in a hurry for New Mexico State. In Saturday’s loss to CBU, the Aggies never led. And Thursday night at Climate Pledge Arena, getting off to a good start will be key.

Keep an eye on Riley Grigsby and Alex Schumacher. The Seattle guards are a huge compliment to Cam Tyson. And considering both teams have quality guards, the better guard play on Thursday will be the difference.

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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