Three Utah men’s basketball programs entered last week with a shot to become their respective conference leaders.
All three failed, and dropped further down into their conference standings, hurting their chances to receive at-large bids to the NCAA tournament.
Now, BYU, Utah State and Weber State enter this week of play looking to bounce back from disappointing play and regain the top spots in their conferences.
BYU (16-6, 6-2) fell from the top of the West Coast Conference down to third after losing decidedly to Gonzaga last week.
In the latest NCAA projections released Monday, BYU is among the teams that was considered but left out of the tournament. If the Cougars want to remain in the NCAA conversation, they need to rebound this week against the lower part of the WCC.
Tonight will have the Cougars in Malibu, Calif. to take on the Pepperdine Waves (10-10, 2-5). The Cougars won their last game against the Waves on Jan. 10 by the final score 76-51. Brandon Davies dominated the Waves, scoring 19 points and grabbing nine rebounds, while teammate Tyler Haws added 24 points of his own.
The Cougars return to the Marriott Center Saturday to face WCC surprise Santa Clara (16-6, 4-3). The Broncos want to challenge BYU for the third seed in the WCC, but will be big underdogs in their visit to Provo. Both games will air on BYUtv. Tonight’s game starts at 8 p.m. and Saturday’s tips off at 7 p.m.
Two weeks ago, Utah State (14-5, 5-4) sat at the top of the WAC undefeated and in a good position to win the conference in their final year.
However, things went south after the injuries to key players Preston Medlin and Kyisean Reed in the Jan. 17 game at New Mexico State. Reed suffered a season-ending ACL injury and Medlin will be out until the end of February.
Since that game, the Aggies are on a four-game losing streak that has dropped them down to fourth in the conference.
They begin the second half of conference play this week with a pair of road games against teams they defeated already this season. Tonight the Aggies square off in Moscow, ID against the Vandals (8-11, 4-5) at 8 p.m. before traveling Saturday to Washington to face Seattle (6-13, 1-8).
Idaho gave the Aggies a scare in its last game in Logan, forcing Medlin to make a 3-pointer to tie the game in regulation. Medlin scored nine points in the overtime to finish with 22 for the game and an 82-75 victory for the Aggies.
Reed led the Aggies in their 75-66 drubbing of Seattle on Jan. 3 with 20 points and 10 rebounds. Medlin was solid for the Aggies in that game as well, scoring 18 points.
Weber State (13-5, 8-2) had the shortest fall of all after failing to pick up a win in a pair of road games in Montana. The Wildcats fell to both Montana State and Montana, losing ground on conference leader Montana, which remained undefeated in conference play. Weber State remains on the road this week as they kick off the second half of conference play.
Weber State last faced North Dakota (8-11, 5-5) and Northern Colorado (5-13, 3-7) in early January. Weber State won both games by an average margin of 28.5 points. Scott Bamforth averaged 20.5 points in the two victories. Numerous Wildcats contributed in both games.