Mountain West Notebook
Takin’ it to the Bank(s)
UNLV’s Marcus Banks was named the MWC’s player of the week for the week ending December 31st. Banks led the Runnin’ Rebels to a pair of victories while averaging 30 points per game, 4 boards, 5 assists, and 3.5 steals last week. Banks set a career high in scoring against Tennessee State with 29, then followed it up with 31 against Old Dominion. This was actually the fourth consecutive game in which Banks set a new career high for himself. For the season, Banks is third in the conference in scoring at 17.6 points per contest.
Moving on Up
After starting the season 32-26 against non-conference opponents, Mountain West teams have gone 33-5 over the past three weeks including the contests on Jan 2nd. Only Air Force (6-6) enters the conference schedule without a winning record. This is great news for a conference that only placed one team in the NCAA Tournament a year ago and many insiders feared was doomed to repeat that disappointment again this season. The recent success may be more a sign of weaker opponents than a dramatic increase in performance. BYU’s December 22 upset of Stanford stands as the conference’s only win against a Top 30 opponent. Overall, Mountain West teams are 1-9 against Top 30 squads.
Thank Goodness for Electronic Scoreboards
Conference play kicks off January 5th as UNLV hosts Wyoming. The last time these two teams met, they shredded the nets for a combined 208 points in a 106-102 UNLV victory. One can expect a similar fast-paced game this year as UNLV and Wyoming average 78.5 and 80.3 points per game respectively. The only other Mountain West team to crack 100 this season is BYU. The Cougars meet UNLV January 15.