by Zachary Knecht
Featured Image: Photo by Weber State Athletics
Idaho Weber State Preview
The Weber State Wildcats host their last game at the Dee Events Center this season against the Idaho Vandals. The Wildcats aim to finish their home season strong with a win that all but guarantees the three seed in the Big Sky.
The Wildcats (15-14, 10-6 CONF) couldn’t get the job done against Eastern Washington, the lone undefeated team in conference play in the Big Sky. However, they hope to get back in the win column against a much less fearsome foe. Idaho (10-19), on the other hand, hopes to avoid finishing last in the conference with only two games to spare (4-12).
The Wildcats are 13-14-0 against the spread, and the Vandals are an even 13-13-1.
The previous duel between these teams went in favor of Weber State, 73-65. Despite playing on the road, the Wildcats were by far the better team at the ICCU Arena. They contained the usually potent Vandal offense and created some of their own from their efficient shooting. Weber State shot 56.5% from the field and 53.8% from three, taking over with a huge 38-22 first-half lead. Idaho rallied in the second, but the lead was insurmountable.
Dillon Jones and Steven Verplancken Jr. dominated the floor for the Wildcats. Jones’ 21-point, 14-rebound double-double helped Weber State on both ends. He lived at the free-throw line, converting 12 of his 15 attempts. Verplancken Jr. took the most shots on the team, hitting an efficient 7-12 from the field for a 17-point night.
Off the bench, Trey Smith was the main producer for the Vandals. He scored 17 points on 5-9 three-point shooting with one assist and one rebound. Efficiency was hard to come by for Idaho, but Divante Moffitt made an impact with 13 points and seven assists to create opportunities for the rest of this offense.
Who to Watch
While Jones is seemingly always due for a historic night, watch for KJ Cunningham. Cunningham has been a solid role player and three-point shooter for Weber State this season. Despite his 5.8 PPG, he always finds a way to make an impact and had great success against Idaho on the road. The junior guard was a perfect 5-5 from the field and 2-2 from three. Weber State knows they have two reliable scorers in Jones and Verplancken Jr., so help from their supporting cast often gives their offense the edge.
Issac Jones was serviceable for Idaho in late January against Weber State but didn’t make the impact he is accustomed to making. The same goes for Moffitt. The duo has combined for 38.2 PPG on the season but were left with only 25 against the Wildcats. Their success plays a vital role in the result of this game, so Weber State hopes to contain them once again.
After a disappointing shootout loss against Eastern Washington, the Wildcats look to come back with a win against a low-seeded conference opponent. They did everything they could be asked to do in Moscow, so they need to repeat their efforts. They shot well, rebounded well, and racked up a decent amount of blocks (7), so they know what needs to be done. They must continue to play aggressively and contain Idaho’s top performers. The Wildcats should also find more success in front of their home crowd.
The Wildcats host the Vandals at 7 p.m. MT.
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