Weber State basketball prepares for Utah Valley big man Akolda Manyang

Tuesday , December 05, 2017 - 7:43 PM

BRETT HEIN, Standard-Examiner Staff

The time for a young but budding in-state rivalry has come, as Weber State men’s basketball travels to Orem to face Utah Valley on Wednesday.

The Wildcats will attempt to become the first team to pick up a road win in the series. WSU is 6-0 in Ogden, while UVU is 4-0 in Orem.

Weber State (4-3) won last year’s game 93-85, but among Utah Valley’s differences from last season is a big one: 7-foot center Akolda Manyang.

“We don’t see a lot of guys like that, a 7-footer who can move like he can move, protect the rim and score at the five,” WSU head coach Randy Rahe said. “People are thinking he’s going to be a pro at some level. He’s hard to deal with, with that size and length.”

Manyang is a senior transfer from Oklahoma University. In a game where UVU gave Kentucky a scare and led by nine early in the second half, Manyang recorded five blocks.

In a game at North Dakota, he scored 24 points, grabbed nine rebounds and swatted six shots.

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Manyang is one example of how coach Mark Pope injects talent into the Wolverines (5-3) by way of transfers.

This year, Brandon Randolph (from Xavier) and Jake Toolson (from BYU) bring a punch to the guard line. They join two transfers in their second year with the team, wing Kenneth Ogbe (from Utah) and big man Isaac Neilson (from BYU).

“They’re a very veteran team,” Rahe said. “They’ve got a lot of transfers … so they’re taking older guys, and this year with five seniors, they play like it. They’re very talented guys.”

UVU struggles to shoot 3-pointers and turns the ball over frequently, but really makes hay on the offensive glass. The Wolverines sport the 20th-best offensive rebounding rate in the country.

That’s an interesting matchup for Weber State, whose defense is in the bottom third nationally in allowing offensive rebounds.

But, with Manyang lurking in the paint, the WSU offense is one of the country’s best at avoiding blocked shots. That’s largely because the Wildcats take and make a load of 3-pointers. They currently make 45.1 percent from deep as a team, fourth-best nationally.

Utah Valley won each of its last two home contests against WSU by three points, one of them in double overtime. Rahe expects another battle.

“They’ve got every area covered as a team. They’ve got size, they’ve got athleticism, they can really shoot the basketball and they play well together,” Rahe said. “They’re especially good at home. It’s going to be a big challenge for us.”

Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. The game will stream online at WACsports.com and a radio call will air on 1430 AM KLO.


Contact Brett Hein at bhein@standard.net, follow him on Twitter @bhein3 and at facebook.com/brettheinwrites.

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