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The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Thursday, January 31, 8 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Betty Engelstad Sioux Center (3,300) -- Grand Forks, North Dakota. Television: None. Home Record: WSU 8-1, UND 6-3. Away Record: WSU 5-4, UND 2-8. Neutral Record: WSU 0-0, UND 0-0. Conference Record: WSU 8-2, UND 5-5. Series Record: Weber State leads, 1-0.
GAME NOTES: After winning eight straight Big Sky Conference games to open the 2012-13 campaign, the Weber State Wildcats now find themselves trying to snap a two-game slide on Thursday night when they face off against North Dakota at the Betty Engelstad Sioux Center in Grand Forks.
In the midst of a four-game road trip that doesn't have them playing again in Ogden until Feb. 9, the Wildcats are in second place in the conference standings, trailing only Montana which is a perfect 10-0 in league bouts. Last Saturday, Weber State was taken out by the Grizzlies in a narrow 76-74 final, still just the fifth loss of the season for the Wildcats.
As for North Dakota, it is tied with Sacramento State and Southern Utah for fourth place in the Big Sky with a split of 10 league tests. UND is coming off one of its most exciting wins since making the move to Division I, taking out Northern Arizona last weekend in an 81-79 final. The victory was the fourth in the last five games for a team that had a total of just four wins through the first 14 games of this season.
The Wildcats won the only previous meeting between these two teams, a 95-63 blowout earlier this month as Kyle Tresnak and Davion Berry tallied 22 and 20 points, respectively. Weber State shot an impressive 55.9 percent from the floor in that meeting in order to overcome 16 turnovers. North Dakota was paced by Aaron Anderson, who recorded a game-high 23 points, shooting a perfect 10-of-10 at the free-throw line.
In a game that featured 11 ties and 12 lead changes, the Wildcats gave it their all against Montana on the road but still came up a couple of points short. The visitors connected on 51.9 percent from the floor, but just 3-of-14 behind the 3-point line, not to mention being outscored at the free-throw line, 30-17. Frank Otis and Davion Berry both tallied 17 points for WSU, followed by Scott Bamforth and Kyle Tresnak with 14 points apiece in the losing cause. Despite the recent setbacks, Weber State should still one of the most feared teams in the Big Sky as it outscores the competition by 12 ppg. Bamforth (15.1 ppg), Tresnak (14.2 ppg) and Berry (13.8 ppg) lead the charge for the Wildcats, the former shooting a sizzling 49.2 percent from 3-point range and the latter converting 47.1 percent of his chances on the outside, while also delivering 39 assists in 10 conference games.
Not only did Troy Huff score a season-high 26 points against Northern Arizona last weekend, but he was the one who led his team all the way back and hit the game-winner on a putback with three seconds left in regulation. North Dakota was lucky to be in contention down the stretch, considering it fell behind 34-12 coming out of the gate. Huff, who knocked down 11-of-18 shots from the floor, also cleared eight rebounds to pace UND in that department yet again. Josh Schuler chipped in 13 points and Mitch Wilmer 10, while Aaron Anderson handed out 10 assists, scored seven points and made three steals before fouling out. In conference games this season Huff, who has started five of the nine tilts in which he has appeared, is producing a hefty 20.1 ppg and is first among active players with 7.3 rpg. Anderson (16.8 ppg) has combined with Huff to account for 102 of the unit's 182 made free throws in league action and is also first with 34 assists, one ahead of Jamal Webb (9.5 ppg, 26 steals).
Dealing with back-to-back defeats is not something the Wildcats are used to, and chances are they plan on taking out their frustrations on North Dakota which was beaten rather soundly in the first meeting between the two this season.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Weber State 82, North Dakota 66
01/31 10:32:22 ET