Photo by Mykah Heaton
The clock ran out on the Wolverines’ season in March 2018. The men’s basketball team couldn’t seem to put a stop to San Francisco and dropped the game 73-78 in the second round of the CBI. Looking back on the season, UVU can hold their heads high as they accomplished many impressive achievements throughout the year.
Starting the season of with “The Toughest 24” was something UVU, and even many fans of college basketball, had never seen before. Scheduling No. 5 ranked Kentucky and No. 1 ranked Duke, both big names in the world of college basketball, within a day of each other seemed daring and somewhat crazy.
Somehow a team from Orem, Utah led the Wildcats 34-25 at halftime. Eventually Kentucky would climb back into the lead and UVU would head to Duke to be beaten by 30 points. These two games had more impact on the team than just two losses on the scoresheet. Starting out the season fast and hard set the tone for the rest of the year.
One of the biggest things that stood out about the men’s basketball team in 2018 was their play at home. The Wolverines lost a total of one game at home, and opposing teams found it impossible to beat the Wolverines on their home court as UVU went 16-1 overall at UCCU and 7-0 at home in WAC play.
Another huge moment came from UVU’s intense win over New Mexico State, a team that usually is favored against UVU, Feb. 15, 2018 in Orem. The Wolverines shot out from the floor, hitting 50 percent of their threes and shooting 58 percent overall to get the rivalry game win 86-79.
Kenneth Ogbe hit four of those three pointers and finished with 22 points, as guard Conner Toolson had 14 points of his own and six rebounds. This game was NMSU’s first conference loss of the season, and showed that UVU was a team not to be taken lightly in the WAC.
Not enough can be said about the impact the seniors had on the team this year. Akolda Manyang, Brandon Randolph, Jerrelle DeBerry, Zach Nelson, Isaac Neilson and Ogbe all played a giant part in the team’s success.
The team on the offensive end were very impressive, leading the conference in overall scoring, free throw percentage, three-point percentage, overall shooting percentage and assists. Defensively, UVU led the conference in blocked shots, with huge credit going to Manyang who led the conference with 2.3 swats a game. Not only did he lead the WAC, he ranked No. 23 nationally.
Although UVU fell in the semi-finals of the WAC tournament and in the second round of the CBI, the team posted an overall 23-11 record on the season. Finishing second in the conference in regular season play was no laughing matter for the team. The Wolverines leaves behind a legacy of tough team play and many memorable moments. It will be interesting to see how next year’s team will respond to a very impressive run from the previous year’s squad.