Western Kentucky v Mississippi Valley State

Head coach Sean Woods off to a busy start at Morehead State

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To say that Donnie Tyndall didn’t leave Sean Woods with a bare cupboard when he decided to take over at Southern Miss would be an accurate statement to make.

The Morehead State program has been a consistent contender in the OVC in recent years, which includes a 2011 OVC title and an NCAA tournament win over Louisville.

The task for Woods, who took the job after leading Mississippi Valley State to the NCAA tournament last season, is to pick up where Tyndall led off and take the Eagles to new heights.

With that in mind the former Kentucky Wildcat point guard has been a busy man since taking over, making multiple speeches to alumni groups and other supporters of the university.

This off-season’s been about firing up a fan base that expects Morehead State to compete for conference championships, and Woods has not backed away from the expectations.

As he said at his introductory news conference, Woods wants to make Morehead State “the Gonzaga of the South.” That is to say a mid-major program that can compete with any college team.

Woods smiled and nodded when asked if he used the same line — Gonzaga of the South — to describe his intentions when he became coach at Mississippi Valley State.

“I did,” he said, “and we were headed that way.”

To say the least that’s a very lofty goal to have when considering what Gonzaga has accomplished since they made that first run to the Elite 8 in 1999.

That season was the first of 13 straight that culminated with an NCAA appearance for the Bulldogs, who have also gone out and accepted many challenges in their non-conference schedule as well.

If that’s what Woods has in mind for Morehead State that certainly isn’t a bad goal to shoot for. But it won’t be easy given the presence of programs such as Murray State and league newcomer Belmont.

Coming off of an 18-15 season (10-6 OVC), Morehead State has to account for the loss of two of their top three scorers (Terrance Hill and Ty Proffitt) this season.

Hill missed the second half of the season with a knee injury so there’s some experience in that regard, and 6-7 forward Drew Kelly returns for his senior campaign as do guard Marsell Holden and forward Milton Chavis.

Taking over a new program is never easy, but the fact that Morehead State has a history of success should help Woods and his staff as they look to return the program to the NCAA tournament.

Raphielle is also the assistant editor at CollegeHoops.net and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.

Illinois State ends No. 21 Wichita State’s 12-game win streak

Fred VanVleet
AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki
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Having won 12 straight games, No. 21 Wichita State entered the weekend one of the hottest teams in the country. And with a four-game lead atop the Missouri Valley standings, clinching the regular season title was more a matter of “when” as opposed to “if.” But none of that mattered Saturday night at Illinois State, as the Redbirds managed to hand the Shockers their first conference loss by the final score of 58-53.

In addition to the 12-game win streak, which was second to Stony Brook (15 straight wins), Wichita State also saw its 19-game win streak in Valley regular season games come to an end. Illinois State was the last Valley team to beat Wichita State, eliminating the Shockers in the Arch Madness semifinals last March, and they played with the confidence of a team that believed it could win.

And after a rough first half the Redbirds found a way to come back, erasing a 16-point second half deficit in the process.

Wichita State’s issue in the second half was the fact that they couldn’t make shots. The Shockers shot just 26.7 percent from the field and 1-for-14 from three in the second half, with Fred VanVleet going scoreless and Shaq Morris scoring just one point. And just two players, Ron Baker and Conner Frankamp, managed to make multiple field goals in the game’s final 20 minutes. Illinois State certainly deserves credit for that, as they took away the quality looks Wichita State was able to find in building its lead.

And on the other end of the floor Paris Lee took control of the game during Illinois State’s comeback, scoring 13 of his 19 points in the second half with Deontae Hawkins adding 11 second-half points. Illinois State was even worse from the field, finishing the game shooting just over 27 percent from the field. But they were able to attack the Wichita State defense and get to the foul line, outscoring the Shockers 22-9 from the charity stripe. And in a game in which neither team could get much going offensively, the ability to get points from the line proved to be the difference.

This defeat doesn’t help Wichita State, but did anything really change? Maybe the margin for error when it comes to an at-large bid gets a little smaller with the loss in the eyes of some. But when considering injuries to the likes of VanVleet and Anton Grady in non-conference play, those early season losses are understandable. Saturday was a rough night for Wichita State, but given the maturity and talent on at Gregg Marshall’s disposal the Shockers will be fine moving forward.

VIDEO: New Mexico loses game on blown call by officials

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Nothing like a nice, controversial finish to get the blood flowing.

New Mexico was on the receiving end of a rule misinterpretation on Saturday afternoon, and that interpretation likely cost the Lobos a win over San Diego State and, arguably, a shot at the MWC regular season title.

Here’s the situation: New Mexico is up by three with 12 seconds left and the ball under their own basket. Their allowed to run the baseline, so Craig Neal calls a play where the inbounder throws the ball to a player running out of bounds.

Totally league as long as the player establishes out of bounds before touching the ball. The referee rules that he doesn’t.

Here’s the video:

The problem?

According to the rules, Xavier Adams — the player receiving the pass from Cullen Neal — only needed one foot on the floor out of bounds in order to establish himself as an inbounder that was able to catch that ball. He got one foot down (see the picture above), but the referees appeared to rule that he needed to have both feet down.

That was incorrect, according to the Mountain West office.

“While this was a very close judgment call made at full speed, it has been determined after careful review of slow-motion video replays the call was in fact incorrect,” the league said in a release. “The New Mexico player did get one foot down (two feet are not required) out-of-bounds before receiving the ball, thus establishing his location in accordance NCAA Basketball Playing Rules 4.23.1.a and 7.1.1.  By rule, the officials were not permitted to go to the monitor during the game to review this play.”

And here’s the kicker: When SDSU got the ball back, they hit a three to send the game into overtime, where the Aztecs won. But if New Mexico had won this game, they’d be sitting at 8-2 in MWC play, one game behind SDSU in the loss column with a return game against them in The Pit.

Instead, they’re now three games back with seven to play, meaning that the race is effectively over.

It’s tough to blame the referees here — it was a bang-bang call that is only clear in slow-motion replay — but man, that’s a big call to miss.