Fox News - Fair & Balanced

Sports


Idaho (16-11) at Utah State (14-14)



The Sports Network

DATE & TIME: Friday, February 24th, 9:05 p.m. (et)

FACTS & STATS: Site: Dee Glen Smith Spectrum (10,270) -- Logan, Utah. Television: None. Home Record: Idaho 10-4, Utah State 12-4. Away Record: Idaho 6-6, Utah State 2-10. Neutral Record: Idaho 0-1, Utah State 0-0. Conference Record: IDaho 7-4, Utah State 5-6. Series Record: Utah State leads 33-14.

GAMES NOTES: The Idaho Vandals and the Utah State Aggies will match up for a Western Athletic Conference duel at the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum on Friday.

This is the second scheduled meeting of the season for these squads with Idaho winning a close game 57-54 in the previous matchup. Idaho has now won two of the last three contests with Utah State after the Aggies rattled off 11 straight victories in the series which they lead 33-14.

Idaho is riding a five-game winning streak entering play, including four in WAC play. The Vandals downed Big Sky opponent Portland State as part of the BracketBuster series over the weekend and are now 16-11 overall including a 7-4 mark in the WAC, which is good enough for third i the league standings. Idaho ends the season with a two-game road stint beginning with Hawaii next Friday.

Utah State, normally a power in the WAC has regressed this season with just a 14-14 record overall including a 5-6 mark in the conference. The Aggies have traded wins and losses in its last for games including a 72-64 loss against UC Santa Barbara during BracketBuster weekend. Utah State will also wrap up the season with consecutive road matchups beginning at San Jose State on Thursday.

Idaho shot an impressive 56.3 percent from the floor while outscoring Portland State 18-14 from the free throw line to capture the non-conference tilt on Saturday. The Vandals had four players in double figures as well and outrebounded the Vikings by a 35-28 margin.

The Vandals have been efficient this season, albeit not an overly high scoring one. Idaho State ranks first in the conference and 23rd in the country overall with a 48.1 field goal percentage, while scoring just under 70 points per game (69.8). The Vandals have played in a number of tight games as their scoring differential this season is only +2.6. Junior center Kyle Barone (13.1 ppg, 8.2 rpg) paced four players in double figures for Idaho on Saturday with a season-high 25 points to go along with eight rebounds. Barone is the team's leading scorer and has been in double figures in six straight games. Stephen Madison (12.0 ppg, 5.6 rpg) pairs with Barone in the Vandals' powerful frontline and was impressive on Saturday, recording 15 points and 11 rebounds for his first double-double this year. In the backcourt, Idaho is led by Deremy Geiger (12.7 ppg), who ranks second in the conference in the three point field goal percentage (.432).

Utah State couldn't get stops when it needed to against UC Santa Barbara allowing the Gauchos to shoot at a 53-2 percent clip including 8-of-15 from beyond the arc. The Aggies lagged behind by shooting 41.2 percent and hitting on only 5-of-20 attempts from beyond the arc.

The Aggies have a very similar offensive game to the Vandals in that they shoot well but don't score at a high rate. Utah State is second only to Idaho in the conference in field goal percentage (,471) while putting in the seventh most points per game (67.2 ppg). The Aggies have kept in games by allowing 64.7 points per game for a +2.5 scoring differential. Sophomore guard Preston Medlin (15.6 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 3.1 apg) has been the focal point of the team this season as the leading scorer as well as a solid rebounder and distributor. Medlin had a team-high 14 points and also dealt out eight assists in the loss to UC Santa Barbara. Brockeith Pane (12.0 ppg, 3.9 apg) is the team's second option forming a solid 1-2 in the backcourt for the Aggies. On the frontline Kyisean Reed (10.3 ppg, 4.9 rpg) and Morgan Grim (8.9 ppg, 6.1 rpg) are the two anchors.

Despite what there records say these two squads are extremely evenly matched. Both score efficiently and are used to playing in close games. In this matchup Utah State gets the edge playing at home with the superior backcourt.

Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Utah State 68, Idaho 65

02/24 10:36:47 ET