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UVU basketball: WAC leaders travel to league favorite New Mexico State

By Clint Burgi

For the Deseret News

Published: Friday, Jan. 31 2014 2:14 p.m. MST

The WAC schedule reaches its halfway point on Saturday as Utah Valley University takes its 7-0 league record to second place New Mexico State for a 7 p.m. tip at the Pan American Center. The game can be seen live on ESPN3.

The Wolverines (13-7, 7-0) have won eight straight overall, while the Aggies (16-7, 5-2) have won two in a row and are tied with Grand Canyon in the WAC standings. NM State is the two-time defending WAC Tournament champion and was the overwhelming pick to the league in the preseason.

Saturday’s game pits the WAC’s top-scoring offense against the team allowing the fewest points per game. NM State is scoring 78.7 points per game on the year and has upped that to 83.4 in seven league games. UVU is limiting opponents to 63.9 per game overall and has improved that to just 57.9 per game in the WAC.

“New Mexico State is obviously the preseason favorite. They are very athletic and long and present a lot of match up problems for us,” UVU head coach Dick Hunsaker said.

Utah Valley won at Texas-Pan American on Thursday night, 67-53, jumping out to a 14-point halftime lead following a 16-3 run that was keyed by 10 points from Mitch Bruneel. The Wolverines held UTPA to just 18 points in the first half. In the second half, the Broncs got within nine before three straight UVU possessions resulted in 3-pointers, putting the Wolverines up by 18. Bruneel followed with a bucket, capping an 11-0 run and giving UVU its largest lead, 64-44.

Bruneel finished with 16, Hunsaker added 15 and Enos was 4-for-4 from the 3-point line and finished with 14 points. Enos is hitting 50 percent from three this season, tops among all WAC players. Ben Aird scored eight points and grabbed 10 rebounds.

New Mexico State held off a late Bakersfield push in an 89-86 win Thursday. Daniel Mullings, the WAC preseason player of the year, led the Aggies with 19 points. Five players total scored in double figures with first-team All-WAC pick Sim Bhullar scoring 13 in his return to the lineup after missing the first six league contests. Mullings averages 17.0 points to lead the Aggies.

The Wolverines will play at Grand Canyon next Thursday in their only contest next week. Following the game in Phoenix, UVU will play five of its final seven games at home.

Clint Burgi is the assistant athletic director for sports information at Utah Valley University. For more information on Wolverine athletics, visit WolverineGreen.com.

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