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WAC Basketball News and Notes | UT Arlington to Join Conference Next Season

This past week was certainly an action-packed one for Western Athletic Conference college basketball. As the month of February draws near, it is clear that there are no easy nights in the WAC. Three schools carried unblemished conference records into the week. Only one of them managed to get through with their perfect record still intact. The Seattle Redhawks kick off this week’s WAC basketball headlines after their perfect three-game road trip saw them rise to the top of the conference standings.

While Seattle’s play during their three-win week certainly stole the show, there was plenty else happening around the conference. Both New Mexico State and Grand Canyon suffered their first conference losses in blowout fashion. California Baptist also picked up its first road win of the season on Thursday before falling to Abilene Christian on Saturday as ACU snapped a five-game conference losing streak. In addition to all of the action on the hardwood itself, the outlook for WAC basketball going forward continues to brighten. Yet another school officially announced its intention to join the conference ahead of the next sports season.

Without further ado, let’s jump into the latest news and headlines from around the Western Atheltic Conference. The following column also includes an updated look at the WAC basketball standings as well as marquee games to note in the coming week.

Cameron Tyson Seattle WAC basketball news
Credit: Sarah Finney/Seattle University Athletics

WAC Basketball News and Weekly Headlines

Seattle Completes Perfect Three-Game Road Trip, Vaults to Top of WAC Standings

What a week it was for Seattle basketball! As a result of having numerous games postponed and rescheduled, the Redhawks were the busiest team in the WAC this past week. All three of their games came on the road within a six-day span. The travel and busy schedule proved to have no impact on Seattle’s play on the court. The Redhawks capped off their week on the road with a victory over Tarleton State on Saturday night to run their winning streak to seven in a row and remain perfect in WAC basketball play.

As has been the case all season long, Seattle’s big three led the way offensively in Saturday’s contest. Perhaps Cameron Tyson should have gone to school in the state of Texas. He clearly took a liking to the Lone Star State this week. His 21 points against Tarleton followed up a 20-point effort in Thursday’s win over Abilene Christian as he led the Redhawks in scoring both nights. Tyson also knocked down a half-court heave that beat the first-half buzzer against ACU.

Both Darrion Trammell and Riley Grigsby also scored in double figures in each game. For Trammell, the highlight of the week came in Monday’s win over California Baptist. The junior college transfer lit up the Lancers in more ways than one, finishing with 25 points, seven assists and six rebounds.

After completing a perfect three-game road trip, Seattle U now finds itself alone atop the WAC basketball standings. Losses by both New Mexico State and Grand Canyon left the Redhawks as the only remaining unbeaten team in league play. Given that they are playing with an interim head coach, what Seattle has accomplished to date is truly remarkable.

UT Arlington Announces Intent to Join WAC in July

As mid-major conference realignment continues across the country, the WAC continues to be on the positive side of the whole proceedings. Of course, the conference gained four members prior to the current college basketball season with Abilene Christian, Lamar, Sam Houston State and Stephen F. Austin all coming over from the Southland Conference. Now, the list of schools set to join ahead of the 2022-23 athletic season has grown to three.

It was announced on Friday that UT Arlington had officially accepted an invitation to join the Western Athletic Conference. The move will go into effect on July 1st, thus making the Mavericks a member of the league starting next season. This will actually be UT Arlington’s second stint in the WAC as they played in the conference for the 2012-13 athletic season before leaving for the Sun Belt. Prior to that lone season in the WAC, UTA was a member of the Southland Conference for nearly 50 years.

UT Arlington will come into the WAC along with Incarnate Word and Southern Utah next season. With Chicago State on its way out, there are now 15 schools lined up to be a part of the 2022-23 athletic season. UTA joining also means that the majority of schools in the league are located in the state of Texas. With rumors indicating that the WAC hopes to bring back football at the Division I level in the coming years, several teams have flocked to join. That being said, UT Arlington dissolved its football program in 1985.

It will be interesting to see if the conference pursues a 16th team to have an even number for next season. Two other Southland teams in the Lone Star State that could be possible targets are Texas A&M CC and Houston Baptist.

Bryce Drew Grand Canyon Antelopes WAC basketball news Western Athletic Conference
Credit: Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Grand Canyon Falters in Texas, Falls to Stephen F. Austin, Sam Houston State

Grand Canyon basketball came into this past week’s action with a perfect 4-0 record in league games. Unfortunately, the state of Texas did not prove to be very kind to the Antelopes. GCU was dealt an unfortunate obstacle before Thursday night’s game at Stephen F. Austin even tipped-off. Head coach Bryce Drew was not able to be on the sidelines for the game thanks to those good old “health and safety” protocols.

The Lopes went on to have their worst shooting game of the season that night. GCU connected on only 33% of their field goal attempts and went just 5-22 (22.7%) from three-point range. The result was a lopsided 71-46 defeat, the first WAC basketball loss of the season for Grand Canyon.

The Antelopes would try to rebound on Saturday afternoon as they took on Sam Houston State. Drew was able to return to the sidelines for this game, and things certainly started off much better as Grand Canyon was able to build a six-point halftime advantage. Unfortunately, they failed to make it stick. The Bearkats locked down defensively after the break and held GCU to only 24 points over the final 20 minutes. Holland Woods got a look to try and force overtime at the buzzer, but his jumper did not fall and SHSU prevailed in a 58-56 thriller.

Despite the two losses, senior guard Jovan Blacksher Jr. continues to be a scoring machine for the Antelopes. He led the way in both games with 22 and 16 points, respectively. Blacksher also etched his name in the GCU record books on Saturday as he passed DeWayne Russell for the most career steals in program history since reclassifying to Division I.

The home-road split for Grand Canyon basketball is hard to ignore after this week’s action. While the Antelopes have gone 10-1 inside GCU Arena, they are now just 3-3 on the road this season.

Updated WAC Basketball Standings

TeamConference RecordOverall Record
New Mexico State13-223-4
Sam Houston State12-317-11
Stephen F. Austin10-418-8
Grand Canyon9-518-7
Abilene Christian8-617-8
Utah Valley8-617-9
Tarleton State7-712-15
Dixie State6-813-14
California Baptist4-1014-13
Chicago State2-126-21

Upcoming WAC Basketball Games to Note

At least one Western Athletic Conference game will be played on Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday this coming week. Below are six of the games that WAC basketball fans should make sure to prioritize. Needless to say, Seattle is going to have a tough time maintaining the last unblemished conference record this week!

Stephen F. Austin at Seattle

Date: Wednesday, Jan. 26
Time: 10 pm EST
TV Coverage: ESPN+

Sam Houston State at California Baptist

Date: Wednesday, Jan. 26
Time: 10 pm EST
TV Coverage: ESPN+

Utah Valley at Chicago State

Date: Thursday, Jan. 27
Time: 8 pm EST
TV Coverage: ESPN+

Sam Houston State at Seattle

Date: Saturday, Jan. 29
Time: 4 pm EST
TV Coverage: ESPN+

Tarleton State at UTRGV

Date: Saturday, Jan. 29
Time: 8 pm EST
TV Coverage: ESPN+

Grand Canyon at New Mexico State

Date: Saturday, Jan. 29
Time: 9 pm EST
TV Coverage: ESPN+

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