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Mountain West Notebook

December 24, 2002 Conference Notes No Comments

Mountain West Notebook

by Bob Thurman

The Stars Are Out

The Mountain West Conference is hurting, literally. This past week saw a number of the league’s star players go down with injuries. In Thursday’s game against South Carolina, Wyoming’s Marcus Bailey went down with a torn anterior cruciate ligament, ending his collegiate career. Ironically, it was the first game back for star center Uche Nsonwu-Amadi since hurting his knee a few weeks ago. The Pokes survived his absence well, but losing Bailey might be tough to overcome. Besides being a strong Player of the Year candidate, he was the team’s leader and always gave it his all on the court. He was one of the league’s most exciting players and his loss will be felt most by the fans. I would like to take this time to congratulate Marcus on a fine college career, and wish him a full recovery so he can continue playing ball at the next level.

At Utah, injuries have become an annual tradition. So when last season’s Player of the Year, Britton Johnson, tore a ligament in his right thumb against Utah State, it came as no surprise. Luckily, he should be back on the court in three to four weeks. In the meantime, the Utes should use this time to strengthen their thin and inexperienced bench. If they can hold on these next few weeks, they should be a stronger team just in time for conference play to begin.

The Streak Continues

Who has the longest home winning streak in the country? Surprisingly, it’s the BYU Cougars, who won their 40th straight home game last Saturday against UC Santa Barbara, 69-56. The Cougars’ sensational swingmen Travis Hansen and Mark Bigelow, combined to score 30 points and 10 rebounds. They also got some needed help off the bench from Ricky Bower and Terry Nashif, who chipped in with nine points each. BYU will try to keep the streak going, as Southern Utah and a dangerous Pepperdine team visit the Marriott Center in the upcoming weeks.

The Gamecocks Return Home Limp

South Carolina took a trip west this week and found out how difficult it can be winning in the Rockies. First, they traveled to Laramie to battle the Cowboys. Unfortunately for them, Wyoming center Uche Nsonwu-Amadi returned from injury to score 14 points and grab 10 rebounds in a 77-63 victory. Sunday, the Gamecocks traveled to Fort Collins to challenge the red hot Colorado State Rams. After a rough first half, the Rams poured it on in the second half to pull out a 81-67 victory. Swingman Ronnie Clark continues to flourish in Dale Layer’s system, scoring 21 points on 8-11 shooting. After this brutal road trip, South Carolina may rethink coming out west again!

Is This Really Our Tournament?

UNLV began hosting an annual college basketball double-header back in 1996, which was called the Las Vegas Shootout. After winning that first year, the Rebels have not been able to pull out a victory since. In this season’s Las Vegas Showdown (they even changed the name), the Rebels faced a struggling Stanford Cardinal. Would they finally win one for the home fans? No … Stanford 77, UNLV 66. The big, strong frontline of Stanford pummeled the Rebels inside, outrebounding them 54-27. Marcus Banks tried to single-handedly keep the Rebels in it, but got little contribution from his running mates, Demetrius Hunter and Jermaine Lewis, who only scored three points between them. The Rebels are still in search of that elusive quality win this season.

This Week’s MWC Heat-Miser Award

Ruben Douglas, New Mexico
36 points, 7 rebounds, 6 steals versus Southern Utah

The Lobo scoring machine was unstoppable against the Thunderbirds, scoring a career high 36 points from everywhere on the court. The senior guard played all 40 minutes, and even played some exceptional defense, but it wasn’t enough to pull out the victory.

This Week’s MWC Snow-Miser Award

The rest of the Lobos!
21 points, 8-34 shooting, 1-16 on three pointers versus Southern Utah

Yes, it was ugly in Albuquerque! Other than Douglas, nobody on this team showed up to play in a humiliating home loss. The future is not bright in New Mexico.


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