Idaho State (4-15) at Northern Colorado (5-13)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Thursday, January 31, 9:05 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Butler-Hancock Sports Pavilion (2,734) -- Greeley, Colorado. Television: None. Home Record: ISU 3-3, UNC 4-3. Away Record: ISU 1-10, UNC 1-10. Neutral Record: ISU 0-2, UNC 0-0. Conference Record: ISU 3-7, UNC 3-7. Series Record: Idaho State leads, 32-17.
GAME NOTES: Two of the four teams tied for last place in the Big Sky Conference standings get together at Butler-Hancock Sports Pavilion on Thursday night, as the Northern Colorado Bears host the Idaho State Bengals.
Along with Eastern Washington and Portland State, these two squads have just three wins in 10 league opportunities at this point in the campaign. For the Bengals, they have the fewest wins of any team in the league overall, sporting a 4-15 mark at the moment,
Idaho State, just 1-10 in true road games this season and 1-12 away from home overall, has lost three straight following a 61-59 overtime setback versus Montana State in Bozeman last weekend.
As for the Bears, a team which has a mere five wins in 18 opportunities this season, they've bowed in two straight and seven of the last nine contests coming into this week. Last Saturday, UNC was beaten by Sacramento State on the road, 79-72.
Idaho State won the first meeting of the season earlier this month by a score of 86-63 at home in Pocatello, as Melvin Morgan tallied a game-high 27 points for the hosts, leading four players in double figures. With the victory, the Bengals improved their lead in the all-time series to 32-17.
After trailing by eight points at the break against Montana State, the Bengals were able to get the game into overtime, but once there ISU scored a mere two points. Chris Hansen made good on 6-of-10 shots behind the 3-point line for Idaho State as he finished with 20 points and cleared nine rebounds, while Tomas Sanchez and Melvin Morgan chipped in with 11 points each, but combined to shoot only 1-of-7 on the perimeter and 6-of-18 from the floor overall. Had the Bengals not shot only 12-of-21 at the free-throw line the outcome could have easily gone in their favor. Morgan leads the team in scoring this season with 11.9 ppg, but having the ball in his hands is not always a positive for the Bengals because he is averaging close to four turnovers per contest and is shooting only 36.2 percent from the floor and a dismal 20.7 percent on the outside which has brought the entire team down to just 29.9 percent out on the perimeter.
It is not often that a team shoots 52.7 percent from the field, converts 11- of-24 (.458) behind the 3-point line, and still finds a way to lose, but that's what happened to the Bears when they suited up against Sacramento State on the road last weekend. Perhaps the defeat had something to do with the fact that the visitors were outscored 16-3 at the free-throw line. Tevin Svihovec accounted for a team-best 21 points, seven assists and six rebounds, followed by Derrick Barden with 16 points and nine boards, the latter hitting all three of his triples. Tate Unruh and Emmanuel Addo contributed 11 points apiece. One of the top 3-point shooters in the country this season, Unruh (12.5 ppg) is hitting more than three triples per game with 44.0 percent accuracy, but only one other player on the roster is averaging more than a single 3-pointer per game for a team that is generating 68.7 ppg.
As long as Unruh is left open on the outside and can hit his shots, the Bears should have the advantage in this meeting. It also doesn't hurt that Idaho State has been so bad on the road this season.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Northern Colorado 73, Idaho State 66
01/31 10:32:03 ET