| March 22, 2018

MBB: Big Sky Roundup

January 20, 2015

  1. Sacramento State (11-6, 5-1 )

The Hornets’ men’s basketball team snuck past the Vandals with a three-point victory at home, which made their next game against the formerly undefeated Eastern Washington a battle for first place. The game was tied at halftime, but thanks to junior guard Cody Demps, who scored 14 of his career-high 22 points in the second half, Sacramento State handed EWU its first conference loss of the season and took sole possession of first place.

  1. Eastern Washington (13-5, 4-1)

After they earned wins in two close games against Idaho and Portland State, the Eagles finally met their match against Sacramento State with a 90-77 loss in Sacramento, California. With sophomore guard Tyler Harvey, who is currently second in the nation in scoring, with an average of 23.2 points per game, EWU is still one of the most dangerous teams in the conference.

  1. Northern Colorado (9-7, 4-1)

With four consecutive conference wins, the Bears are currently one of the hottest teams in the Big Sky. One of those four wins came against Sacramento State, which was the Hornets only conference loss thus far. The road doesn’t get any easier for NCU, though, as it has to travel up to the Palouse to take on Eastern Washington and the Vandals, who are 4-1 in the Cowan Spectrum this season.

  1. Montana (8-8, 4-1)

The last of the one-loss teams is Montana. New coach Travis Decuire has the difficult task of replacing Wayne Tinkle, who moved to Oregon State after eight seasons at Montana. Leading the Griz on the court is Washington transfer, Martin Breunig. The 6-foot-8, 210-pound center from Germany has made an immediate impact during his first season with the program. He is averaging 17.7 points per game and 7.1 rebounds per game.

  1. Northern Arizona (8-10, 3-2)

Outside of a 78-73 loss to Sacramento State, the Lumberjacks have yet to play the upper tier teams in the Big Sky. NAU’s conference wins came against Portland State, Southern Utah and Idaho State. With upcoming games against Montana, Northern Colorado and Weber State, who already beat them, expect Northern Arizona to drop in the standings.

  1. Portland State (9-7, 3-3)

Back on Jan. 15, Portland State fought back from a 13-point deficit and almost upset then unbeaten Eastern Washington. The Vikings gained confidence and took that into their next game against Idaho as they forced 14 turnovers and held Connor Hill to just eight points in the 85-73 win. For the most part, PSU head coach Tyler Geving has only been using an eight-man rotation. Keep an eye on players possibly wearing down towards the end of the season.

  1. Weber State (8-9, 3-3)

The defending champs have struggled early on in Big Sky competition. The Wildcats lost a close game to Eastern Washington to start their conference schedule and then got upset by the Vandals in Moscow. Perhaps the most shocking loss on Weber State’s schedule came last Saturday against in-state foe, Southern Utah — the Thunderbirds won 70-60. There is still plenty of talent on the roster for the Wildcats to make a run late in the season.

  1. Idaho (7-9, 2-3)

The Vandals are playing good basketball of late, but unfortunately it hasn’t resulted in wins, as the team is currently on a three-game losing streak. Idaho is 1-7 in games played on the road, and their record needs to change if the team wants to make the conference tournament. With two three-point losses against Sacramento State and Eastern Washington, the Vandals have shown they can compete with the best in the conference. Idaho returns home Thursday for a game against North Dakota.

  1. Southern Utah (5-11, 2-3)

An upset over in-state rival and defending champions Weber State should give the Thunderbirds some confidence for the rest of the season. After it dropped three consecutive games to start conference play, Southern Utah has now won two straight games. With last-place Montana State as their next opponent, the streak will likely continue for at least one more game. Saturday, however, a game at Montana will show if this team is for real.

  1. North Dakota (5-11, 1-4)

Don’t let the record fool you. This is a tough North Dakota team. After it opened Big Sky competition with a 67-60 victory over Montana State, NDU has gone through a gauntlet of a schedule, including an 11-point loss at Montana, a two-point loss to Sacramento State, a seven-point loss to Portland State and a 10-point loss in overtime to Northern Colorado — all top Big Sky teams.

  1. Idaho State (4-14, 1-5)

This is a team that had a 67-51 victory over a Grand Canyon squad currently in first place in the WAC. That, however, is the only highlight for Idaho State this season. Its two other wins since then came against the GNAC’s Northwest Nazarene and last place Montana State.

  1. Montana State (3-14, 0-5)

Back on Nov. 23, the Bobcats traveled to Lexington, Kentucky, to play the then No. 1 Kentucky Wildcats. On a positive note, MSU held UK to under 100 points, but still lost 86-28. Montana State is the only winless team in the Big Sky.

Korbin McDonald can be reached at vandalnation@uidaho.edu

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