LAS VEGAS — The Utah Valley basketball team will be trying for its first-ever NCAA Tournament bid when it competes in the Western Athletic Conference Tournament this week at the Orleans Arena.
The Wolverines come into the tournament on a seven-game winning streak and as the No. 2 seed after finishing the regular season with 23 wins, tying a school record set last year. They’ll take on seventh-seeded Kansas City Thursday at 7 p.m. MDT.
Utah Valley (23-8) is led by Jake Toolson, who was named WAC Player of the Year earlier this week. Toolson averages 16.3 points per game and is the only player in the country that has played in 20 or more games while shooting better than 55 percent from the field (55.9 percent), 45 percent from 3-point range (48.5 percent), and 85 percent from the free-throw line (86.9 percent). Such a season has only been accomplished 20 times since 1992, according to Sports-Reference.com.
Other top UVU players include Conner Toolson (13.0 ppg), Ben Nakwaasah (8.7 ppg), Isaiah White (8.4 ppg) and Baylee Steele (8.3 ppg, 7.2 rpg). Wyatt Lowell, who earned WAC Freshmen of the Year honors, averages 4.8 points and 2.6 rebounds per game off the bench.1 comment on this story
Kansas City enters Thursday night's game against the Wolverines with an 11-20 overall record. The 'Roos snapped a four game skid with a 76-61 road win at Chicago State on Saturday to finish league play at 6-10. Junior guard Xavier Bishop leads the team in scoring at 15.3 points per game.
With a victory Thursday, the Wolverines would play the winner of the Grand Canyon-Seattle game Friday at 9:30 p.m. MDT. Beyond that, the championship game will be played Saturday at 8 p.m. MDT with an automatic NCAA bid on the line.
New Mexico State is the No. 1 seed and opens against Chicago State Thursday at 1 p.m. Thursday. The other first-round game will be played between CS-Bakersfield and UTRGV.