| February 23, 2018

Men’s Basketball: A Thunderbird Scare

January 19, 2018

The Idaho men’s basketball hit the road Thursday and found a way to win at Southern Utah, taking down the Thunderbirds 80-76.

“I thought we had a number of guys step up and have really good games,” Idaho head coach Don Verlin said in a news release. “I thought BJ Blake was probably as good as he’s been, both offensively and defensively, in a Vandal uniform.  I thought Jordan Scott was excellent tonight again.  He made a couple of mistakes on McGee, but he did a real nice job for us.”

Idaho took control of the game early in the contest, nabbing a 24-12 advantage with eight minutes left in the opening half. Attempts by the Thunderbirds the wear down the Vandal lead failed, leaving Idaho with a 38-26 lead at the break.

Two Vandals finished in double-figures at the half. Senior guards Victor Sanders and Perrion Callandret each finished with 10 points and contributed 10 rebounds between the two of them.

Hot shooting helped Idaho over power the opponents. The Silver and Gold hit nearly 52 percent from the floor and 58 percent from beyond the arc.

The Vandals managed to hold the Thunderbirds at a distance throughout the second half, extending their lead to as many as 14 points after a 3-point shot from Callandret.

Southern Utah managed to make a run at the Vandals in the closing minutes of the contest, narrowing the gap to one point at several points but the Vandals kept their cool and finished out the game with an 80-76 victory.

Idaho now falls in a three-way tie for second place with Weber State and Montana State with a 4-2 conference record. Southern Utah sits at the bottom of the conference with a 1-5 record.

Idaho finished with four players in double-digits, led by senior forward Brayon Blake. Blake finished with 23 points and 12 boards, a team-high in both categories. This was his sixth game of the season with a double-double. Idaho is now 5-1 when Blake hits that mark.

Sanders and Callandret each finished with 15 points. Callandret also contributed five rebounds and five assists in 34 minutes of play.

Idaho shot 53 percent during the contest and connected 58 percent on 12-21 shooting from range.

“You have to give Southern Utah credit,” Verlin said. “They’re a talented ball club.  And they got the ball in the spots they needed.  When I told to the team in the locker room, one of my strengths or one of my weaknesses is brutal honesty.  I wasn’t happy with the way we played in the second half tonight.  Did we play to the level of our opponent or did we play to our capacity. And we definitely didn’t play to our capacity today.  We allowed them to get in rhythm, we allowed them to shoot rhythm 3’s.”

The Vandals will look to continue with their winning ways against Northern Arizona 4 p.m. Saturday in Flagstaff, Arizona.

Meredith Spelbring can be reached at arg-sports@uidaho.edu

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