Vandals down Fresno State, prepare for Nevada

COMING OFF AN EMOTIONAL 79-74 overtime victory over Fresno State in Moscow - a game in which Idaho rallied from a 19-point first half deficit for the win - the Vandals now set their sites on Nevada. The Wolf Pack visits the Cowan Spectrum SATURDAY night at 7:05 PM, and IDAHO IS TEAMING UP WITH OVER 250 UNIVERSITIES AND COLLEGES TO RAISE BREAST CANCER AWARENESS....WEAR PINK TO THE GAME!

Men's Basketball on Saturday, February 16th vs. Nevada @ 7:00 p.m. - WEAR PINK...GET IN FOR $1.00. ALL PROCEEDS GOTO RELAY FOR LIFE.

- Wear Pink to the game and get in for $1.00!

- Those wearing pink will also be entered to win prizes given out during the game.

- Come early to the game and pick up information on cancer, cancer prevention, Think Pink and Relay for Life.

Show your Vandal Pride...fill up the Cowan Spectrum and wear Pink!!!

Purchase a pink I CARE t-shirt for only $5.00. The proceeds raised will go to Relay for Life. Click on the t-shirt design for more information.

Thursday was an intersting day. Valentine's Day. Idaho hosting Fresno State. And a VERY unusual Thursday night in the Cowan Spectrum.

How so?

Here are some of our notes:

- Idaho outrebounded Fresno State 49-37. Okay, but the Vandals have held a rebounding edge against opponents this season.

- Idaho is now 5-17 on the season and 2-9 in the WAC. Okay. Now things are getting a little unusual. This is the first time in three years in the WAC Idaho has won more than one conference game. The Vandals' five wins in a season is the most since they went 8-22 in 2004-05.

- Trailing by 19 (33-14) points with 4:24 remaining in the first half, the Vandals put together a 15-6 scoring run to cut the lead to 10, 39-29 at the half. That is not something that has happened frequently for the Vandals this season.

- With the Vandals trailing by 10 at the half, the teams came back to the floor to start the second half. Jordan Brooks, standing near the half court line, wiped the dust from the soles of his shoes while talking to no one in particular, but it's clear he was ready to play the second half.

- Pay close attention here. Things are really starting to get interesting. Idaho puts the clamps on the Bulldogs in the final 20 minutes of regulation play. Fresno goes 4-for-29 from the field (20.7%). Idaho shoots an even 50% from the floor, 50% from behind the arc, and 72.7% from the line. The Vandals outrebound Fresno 25-16. Whoa! Those numbers are not the norm this season.

- Despite the intense defensive pressure from the Vandals, the Bulldogs are still sailing along with a 63-52 lead with 5;14 remaining in the second half. The game is being televised back to California where part of the San Joaquin Valley sees the game live and the Fresno area will see it on a tape delay basis. Things are looking up for Fresno, but the Vandals refuse to fold. Over the final 4:44 Idaho goes on an incredible 11-0 run with five different players scoring to tie the game. All throughout this portion of the game Brooks carries on a running conversation with Fresno's Dwight O'Neill.

- Fresno misses a chance to take a late lead and the Vandals get the ball with 2.6 seconds left in regulation. After taking their last time out to set up the play, the Vandals throw the ball away and Fresno gets the ball back 5 feet from the basket with a chance to win. The Bulldogs promptly fumble away the inbounds pass and the game goes into overtime. The play is a microcosm of the game, but those who follow the Vandals know this kind of break has been very, very rare for Idaho this season.

(6-0, 205, Guard)
An Idaho team leader and WAC Player of the Week this season, Hall was second on the team with 17-points against Fresno.
- Overtime begins and Fresno promptly goes up four points in the first 66 seconds. The Vandals don't buckle. They fight back and the lead changes frequently. Idaho trails by one with 1:45 remaining. The Vandals run time of the clock and get the ball to Michael Hall who is double covered in front of the Vandal bench. With three seconds remaining on the shot clock Hall pumps two Bulldogs into the air and launches an NBA range fall back three-point jump shot despite not being able to have a clear look at the rim. Hall comes down out of bounds on the foot of coach coach George Pfeifer as the ball rattles around the rim, starts to lip out, then goes through giving Idaho a 72-70 lead. 1:11 remains. Sousaphone players from the Vandal Pep band circle the floor inspiring the crowd.

- Fresno ties the game. 48 seconds. Brooks drives the lane, hits a layup, draws a foul, sinks the free throw, and Idaho leads by three. Eight seconds later Brooks is fouled and makes both free throws. Idaho by five with six seconds left. A Bulldog layup is countered by two Hall free throws. The Vandals win in overtime, their first overtime win since 2004. Rare indeed. The Vandals and their fans celebrate. The Vandal Fight Song plays, Brooks faces the south sideline chanting "Vandals! Vandals! Vandals!" at the sparse but appreciative crowd. als for many many years -- could recall.
Then, the rarest of all occurrences this season happens after the game. Brooks, arguably the heart and soul of the Vandals this season, comes out of the locker room to talk to the media, the first time the 6-3 JC transfer has done so as a Vandal. See how that turned out below.

Brooks comments:

As the final horn sounds, Jordan (that's pronounced jor-DAN, with emphasis on the "Dan") Brooks faces the fans on the season ticket (south) side of the Cowan Spectrum and yells, "Vandals! Vandals! Vandals!" at the top of his lungs.

He then joins his teammates as the Vandal Fight Song is played and confetti and streamers rain down on the Cowan Spectrum. Minutes later Brooks comes out to talk to the media. On his way to the media table on the south sideline, he is stopped by Vandal football coach Robb Akey who shakes his hand and congratulates Jordan on the win. Just before reaching the reporters Brooks is introduced to a Vandal basketball icon, coach Don Monson (who led Idaho to a Sweet 16 appearance in the early '80s), who also shakes his hand and extends his congratulations.

One of the questions Brooks fields is about his post-game shout-out to the Vandal fans. Asked what his message was, the talented junior didn't hesitate.

"We're here in spirit, in soul - we're here," Jordan said with emotion. "We're going to fight. Ya'll come and see us - we're gonna leave it all out on the court for you. That's what this big arena is about. It's been here for years, and I'm still happy to be a part a part of THAT tradition. Gotta represent it."

Monson would likely agree with Jordan's message.

Jordan, when asked why he chose tonight to meet the media, said succinctly, "The losses column - the losses column. I don't know, man. I've been trying to concentrate and just focus on winning. I don't like to lose, and when I lose I really don't like to talk. A few games we won, but I still wasn't satisfied with the way I played; so that's why I didn't come out here."

Tonight, I mean...come on. What, 25-16-5-2 [points, rebounds, assists, turnovers]? I had to come out here and holler at y'all tonight, man," Jordan says with a quick smile and a shake of his head. "I had to come and talk to y'all tonight. It was somethin' else, tonight. I just felt good all day; so that's what it is. If I play my best I'll come out here every night," Jordan said.

Then, on a more serious note, he added, "That goes to show you that I feel like I haven't been doing my job out here."

Since he was talking to the fans and to the media, Brooks was asked about his on-going chat with O'Neill. "Ah, man. At first it started off he was talking a little bit like that [making a "talking hands" gesture], but it was cool. Eventually as the game went on we realized we were both kinda like the heart…of our team; so it was just cool. I like meeting competitive people. I don't beef with nobody or nuthin' like that; so it was always cool."

Describing the key three-point play: "Ah, man. You can't let me get the ball that deep with anybody on me one-on-one, 5-9 or 6-9. It's gonna be a bucket or a foul."

How does it feel to get back into the win column? "Oh, man. That felt so good. Man, we felt like we were in a whole ‘nuther locker room. It hurts going in there with your head down, man. I think we lost, like, 10 in a row or something like that. I have NEVER lost. Look [showing one of his NJCAA national championship rings]. I have never lost. I can lose, it's just been pretty tough this year."

"But we've got to stay with it and keep fighting. It ain't over. This season is not over yet, so we've just got to keep fighting. This is a big example tonight that the season's not over. If we can beat Fresno we can play with anybody. We've just got to play hard every game."

The Vandals will host Nevada Saturday at 7:05.

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