GAMES NOTES: Western Athletic Conference play will open up at KeyArena on Saturday night when the Idaho Vandals square off with the Seattle Redhawks.
This is the second game of a four-game road trip for Idaho, which dropped the first go-around 78-68 to Boise State. The Vandals are just 4-6 overall this season including a 1-3 mark on the road. That one road win came against Eastern Washington in overtime. Next on the schedule is a trip to face San Jose State.
Seattle has played its last four games at home and split those decisions after securing back-to-back victories over Northern Illinois and Campbell. Those two wins helped Seattle even its overall record to 5-5 and improve its record at KeyArena to 4-3. Seattle hits the road for consecutive games next beginning against Utah State.
Idaho has won eight of the last nine meetings between these squads including a 70-69 victory last year when the squads split the season series. Seattle still leads the all-time series, 14-12.
Despite Kyle Barone's 24-point, 10-rebound double-double, Idaho could not manage to get past Boise State. The Vandals hit on 51.1 percent of their shots from the floor but turned the ball over 16 times, while forcing just seven from the Broncos.
Efficient shooting set up by solid movement has been the key for Idaho this year. The Vandals are second in the WAC in both assists (15.5 pg) and field goal percentage (.468). Both of those marks are also among the 50 best in the country. The Vandals also own a +8.0 edge on the boards and limit opponents to 67.9 points per game. Barone (15.5 ppg, 7.8 rpg) has played well in the frontcourt, dropping in his shots at a 62.4 percent rate. He has posted three double-double this year and scored in double figures in all but one game. Stephen Madison (15.9 ppg, 5.3 rpg) is the top scorer and also aids on the boards, while Connor Hill (10.1 ppg) is the only other player scoring more than six points per game.
Seattle knocked down 48.1 percent of its field goal attempts, including an 8-of-18 effort from beyond the arc, en route to the win over Campbell. Both Deshaun Sunderhaus (12 points, 11 rebounds) and D'Vonne Pickett (16 points, 10 rebounds) had double-doubles in the triumph.
Effective shooting is not something Seattle has really excelled at. The Redhawks have hit on just 40.4 percent of their shots from the floor, which ranks 10th in the WAC. Seattle has managed to clean up after those misses though as the Redhawks are the eighth-best rebounding team in the nation, hauling in 43.2 boards per game. Seattle scores 68.7 points a contest but has let up 70.3 to its foes. There is more balance on the offensive end for Seattle, which has six different players scoring at least 7.2 points per game with none putting in more than Clarence Trent (10.8 ppg, 6.0 rpg). Sunderhaus (10.3 ppg, 7.7 rpg) is the only other player in double figures and is also the top rebounder.
Seattle's ability to control the boards gives it a distinct advantage in this matchup as does the fact that Idaho will be on the road where the Vandals have struggled this year.