Pep Stays in Holiday Spirit

In a season marked by uncertainty, with a roster depleted by injury, and still struggling to find their identity, the Pepperdine Waves have found one thing they can rely on. <p><p> For whatever reason, they play exceptional basketball in Holiday tournaments. <p><p> And for the first time in school history, they have won two of them in the same season.

Pepperdine jumped to an early lead and never looked back, defeating host New Mexico, 88-68, to win the Lobo Invitational before 14,821 fans at The Pit in Albuquerque.

The Waves, coming off a double-overtime marathon first-round game, did a great job overcoming any fatigue they may have been feeling. They raced to an 18-5 lead, and never allowed the host Lobos to get closer than six points at any point in the contest.

Still adjusting to their depleted roster, the Waves need consistent play from their core players, and a different player has been stepping up each game. Tonight it was Boomer Brazzle, pacing the team with 20 points and 10 rebounds.

But the Waves continued a very balanced approach. Seven Waves scored eight points or more, including Jimmy Miggins with 16 and David Patten with 11 points and nine rebounds.

Acker was named tournament MVP. He averaged 21 points, nine rebounds, and 6.5 assists in the two games. The inspiring play of Acker and fellow freshman Patten has helped ease the loss of stars Devin Montgomery and Glen McGowan, whose place in the starting lineup Acker and Patten have taken.

Forward Jamaal Williams led the Lobos with 23 points. Ruben Douglas, who came in averaging 25 points a contest, scored just 12 against the Waves' changing defenses.

Pepperdine has emerged victorious in consecutive Holiday tournaments. On December 17-18, they claimed the Stanford Invitational title with victories over Richmond and Montana, both of whom upset the host Cardinal. No Pepperdine team had ever won two regular-season tournaments in the same season.

The win moved the Waves to 8-4 overall. Though the record is similar to preseason projections, the Waves have found an unusual way to get there. They improved to 4-0 in tournament play, are 2-1 in non-tournament road games, and have won six straight away from home after a season-opening overtime loss at Bradley. But they have failed to capitalize at home, going just 2-3 at Firestone Fieldhouse. The home schedule has included losses to perennial powers Oregon and Utah.

The Waves hope their tournament success translates into a West Coast Conference tournament win this February and victories in the NCAA tournament in March.

Notes:

Arkansas-Little Rock took care of Portland State, 48-41, in the grueling third-place game ... Acker was joined on the all-tournament team by teammates Miggins and Johnson ... Jamaal Williams, a Junior College transfer, had considered attending Pepperdine this season before settling on New Mexico ... The Waves' win partially avenged postseason NIT losses at The Pit in 1988, 1989, and 2001.