Weber State at Northern AZ Men’s Basketball Preview

Weber State at Northern AZ Men’s Basketball Preview

by Zachary Knecht

Featured Image: Photo by Weber State Athletics

Weber State Northern AZ Preview

The Weber State Wildcats will cap off the regular season with a road trip to Northern AZ to face the Lumberjacks Monday. The Wildcats are coming off an impressive outing against Idaho and hope to continue their momentum past the regular season.

Weber State (16-14) is guaranteed the third seed in the Big Sky (11-6) but aims to prepare for the upcoming tournament in Monday’s contest. Northern AZ (9-21) hopes to exit the J. Lawrence Walkup Skydome with the victory to avoid falling to the tenth seed in the conference (5-12).

Game Lines

NAU -1.5

Over/under 137

The Wildcats are an even 14-14 against the spread, while Northern AZ is 17-11-0.

Previous Matchup 

Weber State won the battle of New Year’s Eve against the Lumberjacks 76-60. After losing their lead with 15:02 left in the second half, the Wildcats took control and never looked back en route to their victory.

WSU was efficient, shooting 58.0% from the field despite a below-average night from three (31.3%). A major reason Weber State slowed down Northern AZ’s offense was keeping them away from the free-throw line. The Lumberjacks only sniffed the line seven times in the contest, putting up below-average numbers despite a productive night from the field.

Junior Ballard led the team in scoring from the bench with 16 points. He shot well, hitting six of eight of his attempts, providing nearly all of Weber State’s three-point production on four of six shooting from range. Steven Verplancken Jr. shot 50% from the field on his 14 shots to score 14 points. Dillon Jones dominated the paint with 15 rebounds.

Jalen Cone was the only Lumberjack to find much production against the second-ranked Wildcat defense. His success was more based on volume than efficiency, though, shooting five of 13 from the field and three of seven from three. He added six rebounds and two assists in the loss.

Who to Watch

Look for Ballard in Monday’s contest. The senior guard established himself as one of the premier bench scorers in the Big Sky but has had a quiet second half of the season. He found great success against this porous Northern AZ defense the last time out, so he looks to get on the right track before the Big Sky Tournament. Getting him the hot hand late in the season should be a priority for this Weber State team that has missed his production.

Watch for Cone on the Lumberjack end of the court. Northern Az’s star was productive at the Dee Events Center but struggled to be as efficient as his usual self. At home, he should be more comfortable and find a better groove early. Northern AZ has been on quite the stretch to end the season, winning three of their last five, so this won’t be the same team the Wildcats took down earlier in the year.

Chugging Through

The Wildcats need to do nothing more than keep it rolling. Win or lose, they are locked into playing the sixth seed, so this game is nothing more than a heat check. Like Ballard, give some of these role players more looks so they could be more comfortable when it matters most. Zahir Porter and KJ Cunningham are two scorers that should be greater implemented into the game plan Monday. When they’re hot, they have been unstoppable, so try to get them going in a road challenge.

Game Time

The Wildcats travel to Northern AZ to take on the Lumberjacks at 6 pm MST Monday at the J. Lawrence Walkup Skydome.


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