by Zachary Knecht
Featured Image: Photo by Weber State Athletics
Weber State Portland State Preview
The Weber State Wildcats close out their road trip at Portland State to face the Vikings. After a thrilling win against Sacramento State, the ‘Cats look to finish off strong at the Viking Pavilion.
The Wildcats (14-13) still have a lot to play for in the mix of the top four seeds of the Big Sky (9-5), while the Vikings (12-15) search for a W Saturday to sneak into that mix.
The mid-January matchup between these rosters displayed an excellent showing for the Wildcats, winning 84-68. Weber State was effective from both ends of the court, scoring their season-high in points while stifling Portland State’s offense. With a 51-point offensive explosion in the first half, the ‘Cats were on cruise control for the rest of the night.
Weber State took advantage of the porous Viking defense, hitting 57.4% from the field and 55.6% from three. They asserted their will at the Dee Events Center, outrebounding their opponent 40-22, but they turned the ball over 17 times in the win. The Wildcats had five players exceed ten points on the night, with Steven Verplancken Jr. (19 PTS) and Dillon Jones (17 PTS) paving the way for the offensive masterclass. Jones flirted with a triple-double as well, grabbing 14 rebounds and eight assists.
On the other hand, Portland State’s usually-reliable offense was taken down at the Dee Events Center. Their second-ranked offensive front was held to 68 points in the contest, with Cameron Parker the only Viking to hit double digits. His 13 points and five rebounds weren’t enough to keep pace with the firepower Weber State displayed.
Who to Watch
The Wildcat duo of Jones and Verplancken Jr. took advantage of the Vikings in their previous go, and they should be watched to repeat their performance. The ‘Cats have struggled on the road (6-8), but with only one more road game after this, they aim to end the season .500 away from home. To do that, they need to rely on their playmakers, and these two have come through time and time again. Jones, notably, has led this team in every statistical category.
Cameron Parker was the only Viking to find any real success against the stout Weber State defense in their previous duel, and he looks to improve upon that as the team’s leading scorer. He ranks fourth in the Big Sky in points against conference opponents (19.6), so he is due to find his groove at home. The Vikings don’t possess any true rebounding talent like Dillon Jones, which was a bane in their efforts against the ‘Cats. They need players like Hunter Woods to step up and grab more boards.
The Wildcats look to do nothing more than repeat what they did last time against Portland State. Aside from turnovers, they did everything right. After only scoring 52 in Thursday’s win, this offense wants to find more production, and this is the perfect team to do it against. They found something special against Portland State, and there is no better opponent to face this late in the season. They even passed the ball exceptionally well, which they have struggled with this season, ending with 18 assists on the night. Being the visiting team will surely knock them down a peg, but it won’t stop them from attacking on offense and playing solid defense.
The Wildcats head to Portland State Saturday at 8 pm MST to face off against the Vikings at the Viking Pavilion.
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