Vandals face Broncos on ESPNU

SATURDAY MARKS THE SECOND DOUBLE-HEADER OF THE YEAR between Idaho and Boise State, with the women tipping off at 5pm (PST) followed by the men at 8pm. The Vandal men (14-10, 7-5 WAC) are coming off a stellar 64-56 home victory Wednesday over No.21 Utah State on ESPN2. Saturday at BSU (13-11, 6-6 WAC) the Vandals will again be playing in front of a national TV audience, this time on ESPNU.


The Vandals scored their biggest victory in almost 30 years Feb. 9, and the 64-56 win over No. 21 Utah State should give coach Don Verlin's team plenty of momentum and confidence heading into its rivalry game Feb. 12 at Boise State. The Vandals (14-10, 7-5 WAC) hadn't beaten a team ranked that high since knocking off No. 16 Iowa in an NCAA Tournament game back in 1982. Now Idaho can set its sights on finishing in the top two in the WAC, which would afford the Vandals a double bye in the conference tournament. Idaho trails New Mexico State and Nevada by a half-game in that quest.

But up next is the in-state battle with Boise State. Idaho lost to the Broncos 70-67 earlier this season but has won two games in a row on Boise State's home court under Verlin. A loss to the Broncos would further jumble the race for top-half positioning in the conference.

BEYOND THE BOX SCORE: Give Idaho coach Don Verlin some credit for knowing Utah State's schemes inside and out. Verlin, who coached under Aggies coach Stew Morrill for 15 seasons, tossed a box-and-one defense at his mentor's squad, and it worked to perfection. Utah State had its worst shooting night of the season in seeing its 17-game winning streak snapped. Balance again was key for Idaho on offense, as the Vandals had six players score at least eight points and no one more than 14.


--Idaho has swept Hawaii in each of the past two seasons. The Vandals are 13-5 all-time against the Warriors, including a 7-5 record since the teams became WAC foes in 2006.

--Third-year Idaho coach Don Verlin, who was a long-time assistant to Utah State's Stew Morrill, went 0-4 against the Aggies in his first two seasons with the Vandals.

--Idaho will play at Montana State on Feb. 19 as part of the BracketBusters event. Montana State, of the Big Sky, enters this week with an 8-1 home record. "Montana State is going to be a tough test for us," Idaho coach Don Verlin said. "They're very good on their home floor and we'll have to play well to get a win."


66 -- 3-point shots made by Idaho's Jeff Ledbetter through games of Feb. 5, the highest figure in the WAC. He was second behind Utah State's Brian Green in 3-point percentage, having made 46.2 percent.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "It was nice to make some shots. We just made a bunch of shots tonight, especially from 3. When you shoot it 10-for-18, you're pretty hard to beat." -- Coach Don Verlin, to the Spokane Spokesman-Review, after a 75-61 victory over Hawaii on Feb. 5.


GAME PREVIEW, Idaho at Boise State (Feb. 12)

KEY MATCHUPS: Idaho lost the first meeting with its state rival, 70-67, despite shooting 51 percent. Part of the difference was that the Vandals created only six turnovers, and perhaps they can stand to be more aggressive this time around. Boise State has been slumping and doesn't have the inside size to dominate in the paint. Look for 6-foot-10 sophomore center Kyle Barone to come up big for Idaho; he had 15 points and eight rebounds in the first meeting.

FUTURES MARKET: PG Deremy Geiger had a change of mindset in the Feb. 5 game against visiting Hawaii, and he doled out a career-high 11 assists. Since he is having trouble hitting shots lately, he figured he was better off getting the ball to someone who isn't as cold. "With Stephen Madison, Jeff (Ledbetter), those are guys who are great shooters," Geiger told the Spokane Spokesman-Review. "When I think of them, I just try to think, 'Where would I like the ball?'" Let's see if he stays in distribution mode the rest of the season.


--Junior G Deremy Geiger celebrated his 21st birthday in a big way, scoring 12 points and grabbing a career-high nine rebounds in the Feb. 9 win over Utah State.

--Senior G Jeff Ledbetter tied the school record when he sank his 26th consecutive free throw during the first half of the win against Utah State. He missed his next two attempts.

--Sophomore C Kyle Barone had 11 points and 12 rebounds against Utah State, his second double-double of the season.

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