IDAHO INSIGHT: Vandals on 4-game win streak

University of Idaho senior forward SHAWN HENDERSON matched his career-high total when he handed out five assists in Wednesday's home win over Nevada, helping lead Idaho (10-6, 4-1 WAC) to their best conference start since joining the WAC in 2005. Now Idaho focuses their attention on a non-conference game at Cal State, followed by a road trip at Fresno, then return home next Saturday for BSU.


Idaho took care of the basketball, and that helped the Vandals take care of visiting Nevada 72-67 Wednesday night. Idaho (10-6 overall, 4-1 WAC) only gave away the ball nine times in winning its fourth consecutive WAC game. That's a first for the program [as a WAC member] that joined the conference in 2005.

The lack of turnovers has helped Idaho be an efficient team on offense and give the opposition fewer chances on the offensive end.

Balance on offense continues to be a key for Idaho. Four players hit double players against the Wolf Pack, led by Deremy Geiger's 18 points. Jeff Ledbetter (17), Kyle Barone (13) and Luiz Toledo (11) also hit twin digits, and forward Shawn Henderson met his season average by scoring nine.

"The balance makes us hard to prepare for," Idaho coach Don Verlin said.

BEYOND THE BOX SCORE: Four Idaho players scored in double figures, and the host Vandals recorded a 72-67 win over Nevada in a game televised nationally on ESPN2. The Vandals now step out of conference play for a day when they hit the road for a game at Cal State Bakersfield on Jan. 15. Two nights later, coach Don Verlin's club will battle Fresno State in California as the Vandals try for their fifth straight conference win. That hasn't happened since 1999 when the Vandals played in the Big West Conference.


--Idaho allowed fewer than 50 points in back-to-back conference games for the first time since 2004 before it gave up 67 to San Jose State on Jan. 8. That still counted as a solid effort considering the Spartans had been scoring more than 76 points per game.

--In a late stretch of 2 minutes, 39 seconds against San Jose State, Idaho held the Spartans to 0-for-6 shooting while making all three of its shots from the field, as well as six of seven free throws. "Give it everything you've got," senior G Shawn Henderson said of the mind-set. "There's only three minutes left, then it's over. You don't have to run, play any more defense, or set any more screens; it's three minutes and it's done, so just give it all you've got."

--Idaho had five players score in double figures in the win over San Jose State on Jan. 8. The Vandals shot 66.7 percent from the field in the second half to finish at .500 (27 of 54) for the game.

BY THE NUMBERS: 13.7 -- Assists per game for Idaho through Jan. 8, which ranked second in the WAC (behind Utah State, 15.0) in that category.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "As I've told Vandal fans all along, I like this team because they're a good game prep team, they work hard, they understand what we're trying to teach them, and now we're starting to get better." -- Coach Don Verlin.



--at Cal State Bakersfield, Jan. 15
KEY MATCHUPS: A rare January non-conference interlude, as Idaho travels to take on the Roadrunners, who entered the week at 8-7 overall. They have played two WAC teams, beating visiting San Jose State (82-77) and losing at Utah State (77-58). Bakersfield has a tough set of guards in sophomore Stephon Carter (17.3 points per game through Jan. 8) and Alex Johnson (14.9 points per game). Johnson had made 51 of 113 3-pointers.

FUTURES MARKET: There might be some randomness involved in the small sample size, but Idaho's 3-point defense was superb in its recent three-game winning streak. The Vandals held Louisiana Tech to 5-of-21 shooting from behind the arc. Hawaii was 3-for-22, and San Jose State was 5-for-19. Those last two teams shoot the ball well from 3-point land. Add it all up, and that's 13-for-62 (21 percent). Are the Vandals lucky or good? The rest of the season will tell the tale.

--Junior G Deremy Geiger, who hit clinching free throws in the win over Nevada, has made 13 of his past 14 attempts from the foul line.
--Sophomore C Kyle Barone matched his career-high total when he blocked three shots in the home win over Nevada.
--Senior F Shawn Henderson matched his career-high total when he handed out five assists in the home win over Nevada.
--Junior F Djim Bandoumel, a junior college transfer who played in eight games this season, was declared academically ineligible for the second semester. He was averaging 3.1 points, 1.9 rebounds and 8.6 minutes per game.

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