by Zachary Knecht
Featured Image: Photo by Weber State Athletics
After a much-needed win in their previous game, the Weber State Wildcats turn their attention to the Cal Poly Mustangs for another rough road trip. WSU will have their work cut out for them as the Mustangs come into this one on a three-game home win streak, while the Wildcats are winless on the road.
On paper, these two teams look fairly similar, with a slight edge going to Cal Poly, that advantage growing a bit wider playing on their home court. This game will be very much in reach for the Wildcats to take, but there are a few keys to the game if they hope to come out victorious.
Keep the Hot Hand
Weber State comes into this game having shot lights out in their last matchup against the St. Martin’s Saints, including 50% from three. Keeping up those numbers is unsustainable, especially given their 31.9% on the season from beyond the arch, but carrying some momentum in this game will pay dividends for their offensive production.
The Wildcats have struggled shooting on all accounts to this point in the year, so it is vital for them to come into this game with that same fire from Saturday. Guard Steven Verplancken Jr. led the charge against the Saints with his 21-point performance, and the ball should be in his hands a lot against the Mustangs. Statistically, Cal Poly sports a fairly mediocre defense, so Weber State should carry some of its momenta into this game.
Cal Poly comes into this game with four lethal scorers, which will only cause nightmares for this struggling Wildcats defense. Forward Alimamy Koroma leads the way with 12.8 points per game with his supporting cast having three players posting about 10 per game. This will be challenging for WSU since they have mainly relied on the talent of their top two stars Verplancken Jr. and forward Dillon Jones, with the rest of the roster struggling to carve out concrete roles as consistent producers.
Weber State needs a collective effort from their roster to keep pace in this one. Guard Junior Ballard has shown spurts this season, playing a key role in their previous win, and he, and the rest of the starting roster will need to produce to keep this game from getting out of hand.
Defense Steps Up
The Wildcats’ defense has been anything but efficient this year, allowing 71.3 points per game, but turning it around this game can pave the way moving forward. They are matched up against a team that can produce from anyone on the court, but a team that doesn’t light up the world offensively, averaging 66.8 points per game. They turn the ball over an even amount as WSU but outrebound the Wildcats 34.9 to 29.3. These rebounds will be the difference maker in a game where the teams seemingly put up the same numbers.
Outside of Jones, nobody on this Wildcats team averages more than four rebounds per game, but they will need to step up to give themselves more opportunities to score.
Catch the Wildcats at the Robert A. Mott Athletics Center on Friday at 8 p.m. MST as they take on the Mustangs in what will surely be a tight contest.