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Mountain West moves 2020 tournaments up one week

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Long-rumored to be a possibility, the Mountain West announced Tuesday that the 2020 men’s and women’s conference tournaments will begin one week earlier than usual. With the move the women’s tournament will be played at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas from March 1-4, 2020, with the men’s tournament scheduled for March 4-7, 2020.

A major reason for the move was the 2020 edition of the CONEXPO-CON/AGG International Construction Trade Show, which will be held in Las Vegas from March 10-14. The impact of the trade show on the city of Las Vegas is a significant one, with more than 125,000 professionals attending according to the Mountain West press release.

With that can come increases in prices for things such as hotel rooms and airline tickets. The hope, as far as the Mountain West is concerned, is that moving the tournament up a week will keep its fans from feeling too much of an impact in their wallets when it comes to making those purchases.

With regards to the 2020 conference tournaments there was interest from some other cities, including Phoenix and San Diego, to host the event should the Mountain West be willing to move. A move to another city could have allowed the conference to leave its showcase event in the same spot on the calendar, with the men’s title game traditionally being played on the Saturday before Selection Sunday.

With the scheduling change, it will be interesting to see how that extra week impacts the way in which Mountain West teams are viewed by the selection committee. But that’s an issue that won’t be a concern for another couple years. And by making the decision to move the event up a week instead of taking the tournament elsewhere, its clear that the Mountain West places a high value on keeping it in Las Vegas.

Also, the 2019 conference tournaments will be the first year in which they are staggered, with the women’s tournament scheduled to run from Sunday through Wednesday and the men’s tournament running from Wednesday through Saturday.

West leaves Nevada hoops; ex-star cites personal reasons

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RENO, Nev. (AP) AJ West, who led Nevada in scoring and rebounding a year ago, has left the Wolf Pack for personal reasons.

West, a 6-foot-9 senior, was one of only 11 players in the nation to average a double-double last season with 12.2 points and 10.8 rebounds. His 5.9 offensive rebounds per game led the country and were the most in the NCAA in 20 years.

The Brooklyn, New York, native was averaging 9.6 points and 7.7 rebounds this season but he recently fell out of the starting lineup and his playing minutes were declining under first-year coach Eric Musselman.

West said in a statement provided to the Reno Gazette-Journal on Tuesday that he’s leaving for undisclosed personal reasons and doesn’t “want to be a distraction to the team.”

Information from: Reno Gazette-Journal, http://www.rgj.com

Boise State hangs on for quality win over No. 24 Oregon

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With three of their four losses on the season coming against No. 13 Arizona (twice) and No. 1 Michigan State, Saturday night’s matchup with No. 24 Oregon provided Boise State with another opportunity to add a quality win to its résumé. And in spite of a shaky final two minutes in which they nearly lost the game, Leon Rice’s Broncos managed to hang on for the 74-72 victory.

And Boise State managed to win despite getting a relatively quiet night from forward James Webb III, who battled foul trouble for a significant portion of the game and finished with 12 points on 3-for-9 shooting to go along with five rebounds.

Senior guard Anthony Drmic, who still isn’t back to full strength after having to take a medical redshirt last season, scored a team-high 19 points with Mikey Thompson adding 11 and Chandler Hutchison (eight points, seven rebounds) making some key plays on both ends of the floor. Boise State didn’t have its best offensive night, shooting just 42.6 percent from the field and 11-for-29 form three. But they took a step forward defensively, which is key for a team with hopes of contending for a second consecutive Mountain West title.

Oregon finished the game shooting 43.1 percent from the field and they made half of their shot attempts in the second half. But it was Boise State’s defense for much of the game’s first thirty-four minutes that produced the hole that proved too deep for the Ducks to climb out of. Oregon shot 35.7 percent from the field in the first half, and while their turnover count of 11 isn’t a huge issue those mistakes resulted in 20 Boise State points on the other end.

When you’re having issues offensively as Boise State was, having those extra opportunities can be critical. Boise State led by as much as 17 in the second half before the shorthanded Ducks made their furious rally.

Did Boise State beat a full-strength Oregon? No. Jordan Bell’s finally returned to the lineup, and guards Tyler Dorsey and Dylan Ennis missed Saturday’s game. But that isn’t Boise State’s fault, and the Broncos themselves are still working to discover who they can be as a full unit. Boise State is still looking for the option who can fill the shoes left vacant by the loss of Derrick Marks, last year’s Mountain West POY who served as the team’s closer late in games.

That likely factored into their struggles down the stretch against Oregon, but with Drmic, Webb and even Thompson the Broncos do have players who could potentially fill that role. The finish wasn’t pretty by any stretch of the imagination, but Boise State managed to hang on, adding a much-needed quality win to its résumé.

POSTERIZED: Wyoming’s Josh Adams takes flight

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Not only is Wyoming senior guard Josh Adams the lone returning starter from a team that won the Mountain West tournament last season, but he’s also one of college basketball’s best dunkers. And if anyone may have forgotten about his jumping ability, Adams put it on display Saturday during the Cowboys’ win over Montana State.

After splitting two Montana State players at the top of the key Adams attacked the basket, dunking with two hands over a late-arriving help-side defender. If you’re going to rotate over, have to do it quicker than that.

Video credit: Wyoming Athletics

New Mexico’s Devon Williams leaves game with neck injury

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Sunday night in-state rivals New Mexico and New Mexico State played the first of their two meetings of the season, and while the play of guard Elijah Brown in the Lobos’ 83-74 victory will get headlines there was also a scary situation involving New Mexico redshirt junior forward Devon Williams.

Williams left the game with 11:16 remaining the second half after colliding with teammate Jordan Hunter while going after a loose ball. Williams remained on the Pan-American Center court for several minutes following the collision, with paramedics placing him onto a stretcher.

Williams was taken to a Las Cruces hospital for evaluation of what was described by head coach Craig Neal following the game as a neck injury.

UPDATE: Williams’ mother commented on the status of her son following the game, noting that she had spoken with him.

Forward David Collette transferring from Utah State

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With all five starters from last season’s 18-win team back, the transition for Utah State first year head coach Tim Duryea was expected to be a smooth one. Two days before the Aggies’ regular season opener at Weber State, Duryea’s program was hit with news that will have a significant impact on their 2015-16 campaign.

Sophomore forward David Collette has left the team and will transfer, with the school announcing the news Wednesday evening. Collette was one of the best front court players in the Mountain West last season, averaging 12.8 points and 5.0 rebounds per game while shooting better than 59 percent from the field. For his efforts Collette was a third team all-Mountain West selection, and his departure is a major blow to a team with hopes of contending in the Mountain West.

Collette was Utah State’s most productive player in their 77-60 exhibition loss to Cal-State Monterey Bay on November 6, scoring 22 points on 8-for-13 shooting while also grabbing five rebounds. With his height (6-foot-10) and skill Collette, who redshirted as a freshman in 2011-12 before going on a two-year LDS mission, will be a highly sought-after player on the transfer “market.”

Based upon his words in the release, Duryea is none too thrilled with how this situation came to be.

“I was shocked when he came into my office today and said he was going to quit,” Duryea said in the release. “I think there are a lot of factors in play that, unfortunately, have become a trend in college basketball of schools poaching other schools’ players. I don’t feel good and don’t like how things transpired, but we will move on and get ready for our season opener on Friday.”

This news leaves a major hole to fill on a team that entered the fall with one of the Mountain West’s better front courts. Junior wing Jalen Moore, a preseason all-conference selection, will lead the way with players such as Elston Jones and Lew Evans among those who will compete for the available minutes. But to lose an established interior scorer at this stage in the year makes the adjustment process even tougher for Utah State.