North Dakota (9-12) at Idaho State (8-12)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, February 8, 9:05 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Holt Arena (8,000) -- Pocatello, Idaho. Television: None. Home Record: UND 7-2, ISU 7-2. Away Record: UND 2-8, ISU 1-9. Neutral Record: UND 0-2, ISU 0-1. Conference Record: UND 6-5, ISU 5-6. Series Record: North Dakota leads, 4-1.
GAME NOTES: Losers of back-to-back games, North Dakota will attempt to stop the skid in the final game of its current road trip when it faces the Idaho State Bengals in Big Sky Conference action at Holt Arena.
North Dakota had won four straight games before dropping consecutive decisions to Portland State (70-68) and Weber State (84-72). The setbacks pushed North Dakota back to 9-12 overall and into a four-way tie for third place in the Big Sky standings (6-5). The squad will return home to host Montana State next.
Idaho State put an end to a two-game slide with an impressive 73-70 win over Northern Colorado, which is currently in second place in the conference. The Bengals still have a ways to go to get back into the Big Sky title chase, as they are 5-6 in conference play, part of an 8-12 overall mark. Up next, they will visit Southern Utah.
When North Dakota had hosting duties against Idaho State on Jan. 9, it was able to pull out a 66-62 victory. North Dakota has won four of the five all- time meetings with the Bengals.
In its recent loss to Weber State, North Dakota wasted a game-high 27 points from Jaron Nash. The team managed to connect on 45.2 percent of its shots from the field, but it was doubled up on points at the free-throw line (24-12), a deficit that proved too much to overcome.
North Dakota is still one of the better offensive teams in the conference, ranking third in the Big Sky in scoring (73.6 ppg), while shooting a respectable 45.7 percent from the field. However, it still allows teams to hit on 48.3 percent from the floor and net 74.1 ppg. Troy Huff (19.7 ppg, 7.6 rpg) anchors the unit with his ability to score and rebound, two categories in which he paces the team. Huff also ranks among the top five in the league in each area. Nash (11.5 ppg) and Aaron Anderson (10.6 ppg) are also averaging in double figures, but the list of scoring options dwindles from there.
Tomas Sanchez drained a 3-pointer with 14 seconds to play and Ayibakuro Preh sank a pair of free-throws just before time expired to give Idaho State enough breathing room to defeat Northern Colorado. The Bengals shot 46.3 percent from the floor in the game, which featured as may ties as lead changes (11).
Idaho State is a team that has been at a standstill on the scoreboard and in the league standings this season. The Bengals own a slim edge in scoring margin (+0.8), while shooting the same percentage from the floor as their opponents (.452). The trio of Sanchez (15 ppg, 4.3 apg), Chris Hansen (16.9 ppg) and Andre Hatchett (15.2 ppg, 5.8 ppg) power the team on offense. Sanchez finished with 23 points on Thursday and is also third in the Big Sky in assists. Hansen had 12 points against Northern Colorado and Hatchett tacked on 19. Depth is an issue for Idaho State, which has just six players averaging more than 15 minutes per game.
Having the advantage of playing at home should be a real boost for Idaho State. The Bengals are 7-2 at Holt Arena and they should grab another victory against North Dakota, which has just two wins in 10 tries on the road.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Idaho State 70, North Dakota 66
02/08 10:35:00 ET