Weber State (22-4) at Northern Colorado (9-17)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Thursday, February 23rd, 9:05 p.m. (et).
FACTS & STATS: Site: Butler-Hancock Sports Pavilion (2,734) -- Greeley, Colorado. Television: Comcast Entertainment TV. Home Record: WSU 15-0, UNC 5-8. Away Record: WSU 6-4, UNC 2-9. Neutral Record: WSU 1-0, UNC 2-0. Conference Record: WSU 13-1, UNC 5-9. Series Record: Weber State leads, 8-3.
GAME NOTES: With just two games remaining in the 2011-12 regular season, the Weber State Wildcats try to take another step towards winning the Big Sky Conference title tonight as they tangle with the Northern Colorado Bears at Butler-Hancock Sports Pavilion in Greeley.
Weber State, which is all alone atop the league standings with a record of 13-1, is a game ahead of Montana which is 12-1 and is the only other real contender for the regular-season crown. After tonight's contest, the Wildcats are on the road in five days to clash with Montana in what is assumed will decide the top seed in the upcoming conference tournament. Last weekend, the Wildcats slipped by UT-Arlington, 72-70, for their sixth straight win and the 16th in the last 17 outings overall.
As for the Bears, they still have a shot at making it into the six-team tournament, but the squad has to win the last two games and pray for some help from the other teams in the league. Like WSU, the Bears took a break from the league slate last weekend and matched up against Cal Poly, the result being an 81-73 win for their second victory in the last three outings and just the third triumph in the last month.
Weber State claimed a 93-81 win in the first meeting of the season between these two teams earlier this month, as Damian Lillard erupted for 35 points and the Wildcats shot a collective 53.3 percent from the floor and 12-of-24 behind the three-point line. With the win, the all-time series now favors Weber State by a count of 8-3.
Weber State led by as many as 16 points late in the second half against UT- Arlington, but the team had to hold on for the two-point win just the same. Lillard, now the nation's second-leading scorer, had some issues finding open shots as he finished with 17 points, two behind Scott Bamforth who made good on 5-of-12 attempts behind the three-point line. Byron Fulton tacked on 11 points off the bench and Darin Mahoney 13 rebounds for the hosts. Lillard, who had seven rebounds and seven assists over the weekend as well, is now posting 24.5 ppg as he converts 44.8 percent beyond the arc and 88.7 percent at the free-throw line. Adding to his legacy with the Wildcats, Lillard is also first on the team with 102 assists and 36 steals, and is second with 5.3 rpg as he tries to do everything he can to ensure the team's success. As he showed against the last opponent, Bamforth (15.4 ppg) is not someone who can be overlooked at the offensive end either.
Despite his freshman status, Tevin Svihovec continued to turn heads for the Bears as he erupted for 34 points in the win over Cal Poly, delivering the top scoring effort in the history of Northern Colorado during their time at the Division I level. Svihovec knocked down 11-of-16 shots from the floor and all but one of his 11 free throws, while Emmanuel Addo accounted for 13 points off the bench thanks to his 8-of-10 showing at the charity stripe. Paul Garnica and Mike Proctor both delivered 11 points, the latter also clearing 10 rebounds for a team that won the rebounding battle, 33-21, but also turned the ball over 17 times. Svihovec is now second on the team in scoring with 10.9 ppg, shooting 43.1 percent behind the three-point line for a group that is one of the most accomplished perimeter teams in the nation, connecting on 45.4 percent of their three-point tries. Tate Unruh checks in with 11.0 ppg and has also been a deep threat (.466) for the group, although the competition has knocked down 54 more triples than the Bears to this point.
As long as Lillard and Bamforth are manning the backcourt for the Wildcats there's little chance of Svihovec and the Bears getting over on the visitors tonight.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Weber State 75, Northern Colorado 67
02/23 10:35:37 ET