Nevada beats Bulldogs, looks to WAC tourney
Special to The Union
Luke Babbitt scored 29 points while Armon Johnson and Brandon Fields added 13 apiece to lead the Nevada Wolf Pack over the Louisiana State Bulldogs 79-68 in the regular season finale for both teams Saturday night. Magnum Rolle led the Bulldogs, (9-7 WAC; 22-9 overall) with 22 points and 17 rebounds and DeAndre Brown added 16.
The win vaulted the Wolf Pack (11-5 WAC; 19-11 overall) into the second seed of the Western Athletic Conference tournament as previous second place New Mexico State dropped their WAC finale.
Nevada will now face No. 7 seed Idaho in opening round play Thursday night at 6 p.m. in Reno. At stake, the tournament champion getting their ticket punched to the NCAA tournament the following week.
Utah State claimed its third straight WAC regular season title and will enter the tournament as the number one seed.
Nevada will host the 2010 WAC Tournament at Reno’s Lawlor Events Center March 11-13 for the second consecutive year. Hosting the tournament in Reno would appear to give the Pack a huge advantage considering they will enter play with a 14-1 record at home this season and winners of 72 of their last 86 home contests.
However, it was the Aggies of Utah State that handed Nevada its only home court loss this season, 79-72 in overtime, and also downed the Pack 76-65 in Logan, Utah for the season sweep.
It was also the Aggies that ended the Wolf Pack’s bid for an NCAA tournament berth last season with a 72-62 victory at Lawlor in the WAC Tournament championship game.
The Wolf Pack leads the WAC in scoring and is second in field goal percentage shooting at a 47.8 percent clip. They are led by Academic All-American sophomore Luke Babbitt, second in WAC in scoring averaging 21.5 points and leads the conference in rebounds at 9.3 per game. Meanwhile, junior point guard Armon Johnson leads the WAC in assists at 5.59 per game and senior Brandon Fields appears to be catching fire at the right time leading the Pack in scoring three out of the last four games.
Western Athletic Conference Tournament play begins Wednesday and runs through the championship games for both women and men’s teams slated for Saturday. Men’s action tips off Thursday at noon with No. 1 seed Utah State vs. No. 8 Boise State followed by No. 4 Louisiana Tech vs No. 5 Fresno State at 2:30 p.m..
Thursday’s evening action features No. 2 Nevada agains No. 7 Idaho at 6 p.m. and concludes as No. 3 New Mexico State takes on No. 6 San Jose State at 8:30 p.m.
The winners will advance to Friday’s semifinals beginning at 6 p.m.
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