This Week in WAC Men’s Basketball

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GRAND CANYON’S RUSSELL NAMED WAC PLAYER OF THE WEEK

Grand Canyon redshirt senior guard DeWayne Russell has been named Western Athletic Conference Men’s Basketball Player of the Week for the week of Feb. 6-12. This is his third WAC Player of the Week honor of the season and of his career.

The Peoria, Ariz., native led the WAC with 22.5 points and 7.5 assists to go with 4.5 rebounds and 3.0 steals per game in leading the Lopes to a pair of victories last week. Russell opened the week with 14 points, eight assists, five rebounds and four steals in a win over UT Rio Grande Valley last Thursday. Against NM State on Saturday, Russell scored 31 points, tied for his second-best scoring output of his career and the fourth time scoring 30 or more points this season. He also added seven assists, four rebounds and two steals. NM State led 65-57 with 8:33 left in the game when the Lopes went on a 19-0 run and held the Aggies scoreless for nearly an eight minute span to secure the victory. Russell leads the WAC in scoring, assists and minutes per game.

Other nominees included: CSU Bakersfield’s Matt Smith averaged 15.0 points, 8.5 rebounds and 2.0 blocks per game as the Roadrunners went 2-0 and moved into first place in the WAC standings … Trayvon Palmer of Chicago State averaged 19.0 points, 9.0 rebounds and 1.0 steal per game over two games last week … UMKC’s Kyle Steward averaged 20.0 points, 9.0 rebounds and 1.0 blocks per game as the Roos went 2-0 on the week … Ian Baker of NM State averaged 19.0 points, 6.5 rebounds and 4.5 assists per game last week … Seattle U’s Zack Moore averaged 17.5 points, 2.5 rebounds and 4.5 three-pointers per game as the Redhawks went 1-1 on the week … Nick Dixon of UT Rio Grande Valley averaged 19.5 points, 3.0 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 1.5 steals over two games last week … Utah Valley’s Kenneth Ogbe averaged 16.5 points and 2.0 rebounds as the Wolverines went 1-1 on the week.

WAC STAT LEADERS

NM State leads the WAC in scoring margin (11.2), field goal percentage (46.4), three-point field goal percentage defense (29.2), rebounding (39.7), rebounding defense (33.0) and rebounding margin (6.6), while CSU Bakersfield is tops in scoring defense (63.2), field goal percentage defense (37.9), steals (8.42), turnover margin (2.04) and offensive rebounds (13.04). UMKC leads the league in free throw percentage (72.0), three-point field goal percentage (37.3) and three-pointers per game (9.07), while Utah Valley is tops in scoring (77.8), blocks (4.0) and defensive rebounds (29.83), and Seattle U leads the WAC in assists (16.58) and assist-turnover ratio (1.14).

Individually, Grand Canyon’s DeWayne Russell leads the WAC in scoring (22.5), assists (5.26) and minutes per game (38.48), while Chicago State’s Trayvon Palmer is tops in rebounding (9.6) and defensive rebounds (6.52). NM State’s Eli Chuha leads the league in field goal percentage (60.5) and offensive rebounds (3.77), while teammate Braxton Huggins is tops in three-point percentage (42.7). Seattle U’s Brendan Westendorf leads the WAC in free throw percentage (87.9), while UT Rio Grande Valley’s Nick Dixon leads the league in steals (1.93) and teammate Antonio Green is tops in three-pointers per game (3.74). Utah Valley’s Isaac Neilson leads the WAC in blocked shots (1.83) and CSU Bakersfield’s Brent Wrapp is tops in assist-turnover ratio (2.93).

In WAC games only, NM State leads the WAC in scoring margin (9.3), three-point field goal percentage defense (27.2), rebounding (41.2), rebounding defense (31.6), rebounding margin (9.6) and offensive rebounds (13.0), while Seattle U is tops in field goal percentage (47.6), assists (16.89), assist-turnover ratio (1.19) and three-pointers per game (9.44). CSU Bakersfield leads the league in scoring defense (63.3), field goal percentage defense (39.0) and turnover margin (2.22), while UMKC is tops in scoring (78.3) and three-point field goal percentage (37.6). Utah Valley leads the WAC in blocks (4.33) and is tied with Grand Canyon for the lead in defensive rebounds (28.78), while Chicago State is tops in free throw percentage (76.1) and UTRGV leads the way in steals (8.10).

Individually in WAC games, Dixon leads the WAC in scoring (21.5) and steals (2.1), while Chuha is tops in rebounding (10.2), field goal percentage (64.4) and offensive rebounds (4.3). Russell leads the WAC in assists (6.78) and minutes per game (40.11), while Chicago State’s Fred Sims Jr. is tops in free throw percentage (87.0). CSUB’s Dedrick Basile leads the league in three-point percentage (46.7), while Green is tops in three-pointers per game (2.6). Neilson and CSUB’s Moataz Aly lead the league in blocks (2.0), Wrapp is tops in assist-turnover ratio (3.64) and Palmer leads the WAC in defensive rebounds (7.2).

GCU’S BRAUN NAMED ACADEMIC ALL-DISTRICT

Grand Canyon redshirt junior Joshua Braun was voted to the Academic All-District 8 Men’s Basketball Team and advances to the national ballot for Academic All-America® consideration, which will be announced on March 2. Braun, who earned his undergraduate degree in business management, is working on a master’s degree in business administration and carries a perfect 4.00 grade-point average. Last year he was honored as a first team Academic All-American®, becoming just the 23rd men’s basketball player in WAC history to earn the honor. The two-time Academic All-WAC honoree was Grand Canyon’s first-ever first team selection in men’s basketball. To be eligible, a student-athlete must be a starter or important reserve with at least a 3.30 cumulative GPA at his current institution.

CSUB’S STIFLING DEFENSE

Both of CSU Bakersfield’s opponents came into the week averaging nearly 80 points per game, but the ‘Runners held both of their opponents to just 53 points. On the week, CSUB’s opponents shot just 28.6 percent from the field (34-of-119) and the Roadrunners’ pressure defense forced NM State and UT Rio Grande Valley to shoot just 12.2 percent (6-of-49) from three-point range.

UMKC WINS FOUR STRAIGHT FOR FIRST TIME SINCE 2015

UMKC has won four straight for the first time since Nov. 21-Dec. 1, 2015. In addition, the 30-point victory over Seattle U on Feb. 11 was the largest margin of victory in a conference game by UMKC since joining the WAC.

NMSU’S WEIR BOASTS BEST RECORD OF FIRST-YEAR HEAD COACHES

NM State head coach Paul Weir currently has a 22-4 mark (.846), the best record of all first year head coaches in NCAA Division I. His record is also tied with Tim Jankovich at SMU for the best mark of all coaches that are in their first year coaching at their current school.

UTRGV’S GREEN ON PACE TO BREAK PROGRAM, WAC RECORD FOR THREE-POINTERS

UT Rio Grande Valley sophomore Antonio Green currently leads the nation with 101 three-pointers made this season, which ranks fourth in the UTRGV record books, 13 shy of the all-time record, and 10th in the WAC record books, 22 away from the record. With a minimum of five games remaining this season, at his current pace of 3.74 three-pointers per game, Green would finish the season with a UTRGV and WAC record 123 treys.

GCU’S RUSSELL EXTENDS DOUBLE-FIGURE SCORING STREAK TO 28 GAMES

Grand Canyon senior guard DeWayne Russell has scored in double figures in 28 straight games, dating back to last season. He has led the Lopes in scoring in 16 of his 23 games played this season. Russell currently ranks 10th in the country in scoring (22.5) and second in minutes per game (38.48).

NM STATE BOASTS 39-GAME WAC HOME WINNING STREAK

NM State is currently riding a 39-game WAC home winning streak, the second-longest conference home win streak in the country behind Stephen F. Austin. The Aggies’ last WAC home loss was a 68-60 loss to Nevada on Jan. 26, 2012. NM State has also won 23-straight home games, tied with Cincinnati for the third-most in the NCAA behind Oregon (40) and Akron (29).

NM STATE’S 20-GAME WIN STREAK SECOND-LONGEST IN PROGRAM HISTORY

Though it came to an end last week, NM State’s 20-game winning streak was the second-longest in program history behind the 1937-38 team that posted a 21-game winning streak and finished the season 22-3.

UTRGV ONE OF SIX TEAMS WITH TWO PLAYERS AVERAGING 16.8 POINTS

UTRGV is one of just six teams in the nation to have two players averaging at least 16.8 points per game in junior Nick Dixon (18.6) and sophomore Antonio Green (16.8). They are averaging a combined 17.7 points per game, the sixth-highest among the duos, but rank second in total points (955). Dixon and Green represent one of just two guard duos on the list, and one of two with an underclassman on the list.

CHICAGO STATE HAS USED 16 DIFFERENT STARTING LINEUPS

Through 27 games played this season, Chicago State has utilized 16 different starting lineups. That ranks the Cougars first among Division I schools.

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