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Northern Arizona (5-12) at Idaho State (4-12)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, January 19, 9:05 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Holt Arena (8,000) -- Pocatello, Idaho. Television: None. Home Record: NAU 3-3. Idaho State 3-2. Away Record: NAU 1-8, Idaho State 1-7. Neutral Record: NAU 1-1, Idaho State 0-3. Conference Record: NAU 2-5, Idaho State 3-4. Series Record: Idaho State leads, 48-42.
GAMES NOTES: The suddenly hot Idaho State Bengals will take aim at consecutive victories for just the second time this season when they take on the Northern Arizona Lumberjacks at Holt Arena in Big Sky conference play.
A 83-70 loss to Weber State on Thursday has Northern Arizona yet again marred by a long losing streak. The setback was the fourth straight for the Lumberjacks, the second losing streak of at least three games for the now 5-12 squad. Northern Arizona is in a three-way tie for last place in the Big Sky with Eastern Washington and Northern Colorado at 2-5. Heading on the road is unlikely to help the Lumberjacks as they have just a single victory in nine away contests. Northern Arizona hosts Northern Colorado next.
The Bengals, who are just 4-12 this season, have earned three of those wins in the last four games. The Bengals pulled of a 60-59 upset over Sacramento State on Thursday with Tomas Sanchez's buzzer beating jump shot. The Bengals are 3-2 at home this season while 3-4 in league play. Idaho State takes to the road to face conference leading Montana next.
Idaho State took wins in both contests between these squads last season to increase its edge in the all-time series to 48-42.
A discrepancy from the foul line did Northern Arizona in against Weber State. The Lumberjacks committed 20 fouls in the contest and were outscored by a massive 29-8 margin on points from the free throw-line. That deficit outweighed what was an otherwise strong effort from the Lumberjacks who shot an even 50 percent from the field, while committing only seven turnovers.
The 83 points Northern Arizona gave up to Weber State was just another high total on the season for the Lumberjacks. Foes are scoring 77.8 points per game against Northern Arizona, while shooting at a 47.2 percent clip from the floor. Pedestrian offensive production from Northern Arizona has come despite Big Sky-leading scorer Dewayne Russell (16.1 ppg) suiting up for the Lumberjacks. Russell is joined by Gabe Rogers (14.2 ppg) in double figures although consistency has been an issue for Rogers who shoots at just a 31.8 percent clip.
Sanchez's game-winner against Sacramento State pushed Idaho State ahead for the first time since it had a 4-2 advantage less than three minutes into the contest. The Bengals trailed by as many as 10 points in the game but thanks to a 50 percent shooting second half were able to rally for the win.
Offensive firepower has largely eluded the Bengals who are one of the worst offensive teams in the country. In fact the Bengals are the second lowest scoring team at the Division I level (52.9 ppg), while shooting at just a 39 percent clip. The Bengals are also among the bottom 15 teams in the country in assists (9.5 pg) and rebounds (27.1 pg). Defensively the Bengals have actually been rather solid. They surrender just 61.8 points per game on 43.6 percent shooting. Melvin Morgan (12.1 ppg) is the top offensive threat. Chris Hansen (11.1 ppg) is next in line, while Sanchez (10.7 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 3.6 apg) has contributed across the board.
Although it has certainly not been pretty, Idaho State has been finding ways to win of late. Against the punchless Lumberjacks the Bengals should be able to do the same on Saturday.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Idaho State 65, Northern Arizona 61
01/19 10:32:33 ET
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