Idaho State (4-16) at North Dakota (8-12)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, February 2, 3 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Betty Engelstad Sioux Center (3,300) -- Grand Forks, North Dakota. Television: None. Home Record: ISU 3-3, UND 6-4. Away Record: ISU 1-11, UND 2-8. Neutral Record: ISU 0-2, UND 0-0. Conference Record: ISU 3-8, UND 5-6. Series Record: North Dakota leads, 2-1.
GAME NOTES: A pair of Big Sky Conference programs coming off defeats two nights ago get together in Grand Forks on Saturday afternoon, as North Dakota hosts the Idaho State Bengals at the Betty Engelstad Sioux Center.
Idaho State has fallen in four straight games and five of the last six after bowing to Northern Colorado on Thursday night in Greeley, 78-63. With the setback the Bengals are just 3-8 in conference play, and that has the squad tied with Portland State for last place in the standings heading into the weekend.
As for North Dakota, one of the new additions to the league, it suffered a 66-51 loss against Weber State on Thursday night, which means the squad has now fallen in two of the last three outings and is one game under .500 in conference play at 5-6.
UND won the first meeting of the season with a 66-53 decision on the road in Pocatello as Aaron Anderson delivered a game-high 19 points and the visitors survived just 39.6 percent shooting from the floor, as well as 15 turnovers. With the win, North Dakota moved ahead with a 2-1 series advantage.
The Idaho State defense was no match for the UNC sharp-shooters two nights ago as the Bears not only converted 56.3 percent from the floor, they also knocked down an incredible 15-of-21 (.714) behind the 3-point line as they crushed the Bengals. Melvin Morgan tried to keep the visitors competitive with 18 points on 3-of-7 shooting beyond the arc, while Neveij Walters chipped in 10 points and seven rebounds off the bench in the setback. Morgan continues to be the leading scorer overall this season for the Bengals with his 12.2 ppg, but he has converted just 22-of-99 beyond the arc and 36.4 percent from the floor through 20 games. Chris Hansen (11.2 ppg) tends to have decent games at the offensive end of the floor, but like Morgan, he is also lacking in field goal accuracy (.356) and that brings the entire team down to only 38.9 percent for the season.
North Dakota made a total of just 10 field goals in the first half of the meeting against the Wildcats a couple nights back, and while the team trailed by just three points at the break, an 8-of-23 shooting performance in the second half didn't help matters. Josh Schuler was the lone double-digit scorer for the hosts with his 12 points, hitting 5-of-10 from the floor, but the other four starters combined to make just 8-of-27 from the field in the setback. Troy Huff, who recently became the latest UND player to score 1,000 points for his career, was held to just seven points on 2-of-11 from the floor. In conference games, Huff is easily the leading scorer for the team with his 18.8 ppg, while Aaron Anderson checks in with 15.9 ppg for a group that is shooting only 40.2 percent from the field in such endeavors.
North Dakota has had some success while transitioning to the Big Sky, but the team has to be careful not to be too confident as it hosts an Idaho State program that could well score a minor upset this weekend.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: North Dakota 66, Idaho State 60
02/02 10:32:36 ET