Northern Colorado (6-12) at Idaho State (5-14)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Thursday, January 26th, 9:05 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Holt Arena (8,000) -- Pocatello, Idaho. Television: None. Home Record: UNC 3-6, ISU 3-5. Away Record: UNC 1-6, ISU 2-9. Neutral Record: UNC 2-0, ISU 0-0. Conference Record: UNC 3-4, ISU 3-4. Series Record: Idaho State leads, 31-17.
GAME NOTES: Two struggling Big Sky Conference squads do battle at Holt Arena in Pocatello this evening, as the Northern Colorado Bears come calling on the Idaho State Bengals.
Northern Colorado has not found much success on the campaign, losing twice as often as it wins. The Bears have dropped three of their last four outings, including an 84-72 defeat the hands of Montana State last Saturday.
Idaho State has fared even worse this season, winning just five games total, but the team has found some success lately. The Bengals are winners of two of their last three games, the most recent of which came last Saturday in a 78-62 decision over Northern Arizona.
Idaho State leads the all-time series with Northern Colorado, 31-17, and the Bengals won the first meeting this season on January 2, 57-55, thanks to a Melvin Morgan jumper in the final minute.
Northern Colorado lost last Saturday despite shooting 52 percent from the field, which was even better from its solid season average of 47.6 percent. Mike Proctor paced the Bears in defeat by scoring 14 points on 5-of-7 shooting. Despite averaging just 9.6 ppg, Proctor has now tallied double digit points in seven of his last eight games. He also leads the team in rebounding, ripping down 5.8 rpg. Paul Garnica (10.5 ppg) and Tate Unruh (10.1 ppg) are the Bears' most reliable scorers. Both are potent from beyond the arc, hitting 1.9 three-pointers per game apiece, and Garnica leading the conference in three-point field goal percentage (.500). Unruh goes to the foul line just 1.3 times per game, but he has missed just one free throw on the year en route to a 95.7 percent clip. UNC's defense has been sub par at best this season, as the squad permits 73.9 ppg -- the second-most allowed in the conference.
While Northern Colorado has found some success on offense, Idaho State ranks in the bottom-third in the Big Sky with 63.6 ppg on 41.7 percent shooting. The Bengals were able to break the mold in last Saturday's win however, connecting on 51.9 percent of their total shots. Chase Grabau led the way with 19 points, seven rebounds, and he tied a season-high with nine assists. Grabau leads the team on the year with 12.7 ppg on an impressive 53.4 percent shooting effort, but he has been especially good of late, averaging 19 ppg in the last three games. Kenny McGowen (11.6 ppg) and Melvin Morgan (11.4 ppg) are effective from three-point range, each hitting more than 1.5 three-pointers per contest. Abner Moreira nets just 5.3 ppg but he rips down 7.2 rpg to rank third in the conference. As a team however, ISU struggles on the glass and is last in the conference in rebounding margin (minus-3.4 rpg).
In a game between teams as flawed as these two, home court advantage could mean all the difference, and Northern Colorado has not proven it can win on the road this season.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Idaho State 60, Northern Colorado 58
01/26 10:36:38 ET