Northern Colorado (13-6) at Idaho State (7-12)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Thursday, February 6, 9:05 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Holt Arena (8,000) -- Pocatello, Idaho. Television: None. Home Record: UNC 11-0, ISU 6-2. Away Record: UNC 2-6, ISU 1-9. Neutral Record: UNC 0-0, ISU 0-1. Conference Record: UNC 7-3, ISU 4-6. Series Record: Idaho State leads, 33-19.
GAME NOTES: Sporting the best overall record among teams in the Big Sky Conference, the Northern Colorado Bears try to stay close to the top of the league standings as they clash with the Idaho State Bengals at Holt Arena on Thursday night.
Coming into the week, the Bears trailed only Weber State in the Big Sky standings, UNC showing a 7-3 mark and the Wildcats winning all but two of 10 matchups. Unfortunately for Northern Colorado, it has dropped consecutive decisions on the road to Portland State (80-57) and Eastern Washington (94-90 in OT) in the last week.
Undefeated at home this season, the Bears are just 2-6 on the road.
As for the Bengals, they began the month of February in the same fashion that they closed out January, by falling to a conference opponent on the road. Last week the team suffered an 84-78 setback at Sacramento State, and then Saturday it was a 67-65 loss to Northern Arizona in Flagstaff, dropping ISU to just 4-6 in league play.
The Bengals lead the all-time series with UNC by a count of 33-19, and won here in Pocatello last season in an 86-63 blowout.
At Eastern Washington, the Bears had five players score in double figures, but it wasn't enough as the visitors shot only 12-of-22 at the free-throw line and allowed the Eagles to knock down a staggering 16-of-29 behind the 3-point line. Jordan Wilson was credited with 21 points, Tim Huskisson 17, Tate Unruh 12 points off the bench, and both Derrick Barden and Dominique Lee with 10 in the losing cause.
Huskisson, who came off the bench for the first time in conference play this season last weekend, remains the top scorer in such outings for the Bears with his 14.5 ppg, shooting not just 60.7 percent from the floor but also an impressive 57.1 percent beyond the arc. Barden handles the action on the interior with 13.8 points and 8.7 rebounds per game, while Unruh (12.2 ppg) joins Huskisson as a perimeter threat with his 42.6 percent accuracy.
The Bengals had a chance to take their game with Northern Arizona to overtime last Saturday, but the defense allowed Kris Yanku to connect on the game- winning shot with three seconds remaining in regulation. Andre Hatchett tallied 16 points for Idaho State, Chris Hansen 15 and Tomas Sanchez 11 points as the latter shot 3-of-7 behind the 3-point line, but just 1-of-4 in closer to the basket.
Playing 33.5 minutes per contest, Hansen leads the Bengals in scoring with his 17.1 ppg, having knocked down 39.9 percent beyond the arc through 19 games. In conference play, Hansen has boosted his production to 18.3 ppg and is also being counted on for 4.8 rpg as well. Hatchett chips in another 14.9 ppg overall, although his production could be even better if not for his 64.5 percent effort at the charity stripe.
Northern Colorado has hit a cold spell in the last couple of games and the lopsided outcome against Portland State has to be a concern. Hopefully UNC got the wake-up call it needed in order to finish out the regular season strong, beginning with a positive outcome here tonight.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Northern Colorado 83, Idaho State 69
02/06 10:16:58 ET