Montana State at Idaho
Tipoff: 7 p.m. today, Cowan Spectrum, Kibbie Dome, Moscow
Records: Montana State 6-8 overall, 3-1 Big Sky Conference; Idaho 4-11 overall, 1-3 Big Sky Conference
Down to the wire: In Idahoís Saturday contest against Northern Colorado, junior guard Trevon Allen tied the game at 71-71 in the closing minute and forward Jared Rodriguez nabbed a steal to force the Vandalsí first overtime game of the season. But the Bears pulled ahead in the extra period to take an 83-79 win.
Players: The emerging Rodriguez tallied his first 20-point game and second double-double (11 rebounds) against the Bears. The redshirt freshman has struggled with foul trouble at times this season, but is turning into a solid all-around player the Vandals. He can battle inside (team-high 6.3 rebounds per game), shoot from the perimeter (45.2 percent from 3) and has taken over as Idahoís third leading scorer (10.3 ppg) with the absence of Marquell Fraser, who is recovering from hip surgery.
Game themes: The Vandals are averaging 80 points per game over their last three contests and that could continue today against a Bobcats team allowing a Big Sky-worst 80.9 points per game. Montana State is 61-50 all-time against Idaho.
Washington State at Colorado
Tipoff: 6 p.m. PST, CU Events Center, Boulder, Colo.
Watch: Pac-12 Network
Records: Washington State 7-7 overall, 0-1 Pac-12 Conference; Colorado 9-5 overall, 0-2 Pac-12 Conference
Players: Wazzuís played 10 games missing at least one of its key pieces ó when without either Robert Franks, Viontíe Daniels or Isaiah Wade, the Cougars have dropped six games. Seattle-bred freshman CJ Ellebyís protruded as a top option, but his outputs alone havenít been enough to do the trick for a WSU group still searching for a win-producing degree of efficiency. Daniels and Wade should play, while Franks is questionable. Colorado, too, has been restricted through injuries (and off-court troubles). Three key contributors are gone or limited, which has forced the Buffs to count on true freshmen Daylen Kountz and Eli Parquet, whoíve been a bit hit-and-miss.
Game themes: CUís comparable to WSU in its top-to-bottom talent and record. While the Buffs have never lost to the Cougs in Boulder, itís come down to the wire as of late. Plus, WSUís bested the Buffs three straight times at home. Itís hard to call based on recent conference results ó Wazzu was just dominated for about 70 percent of its tilt with Washington and CU was handled by both Arizona schools. If WSUís hampered, CU might own an edge. If Franks is back, though, and senior Buffs guard Namon Wright isnít, for example, the Cougs could be at an advantage. Albeit, WSUís distressing defense becomes a bane on any given night.
Carroll at Lewis-Clark State
Tipoff: 7:30 p.m today, Activity Center, Lewiston.
Records: Lewis-Clark State 13-3 overall, 2-2 Frontier Conference; Carroll 14-2 overall, 3-1 Frontier Conference
Players: Carroll College has three of the top five scorers in the FC. Those are Match Burnham (second in the league with 20.27 ppg), Matt Wyman (fourth, with 19.19) and Dane Warp (18.88). The Warriorsí Dana Abe leads L-C with 14.46 ppg.
Game themes: The Warriors are leading the country in assists per game (22.53), assist-to-turnover ratio and scoring margin (35.6) while the Saints are the top free-throw-shooting team in the NAIA, hitting 82 percent of their attempts. The Saints sit atop the league standings, while L-C (and two other teams) are tied for third a game behind the Saints and half a game behind second-place Providence.
Idaho at Montana State
Tipoff: 6 p.m. today, Brick Breeden Fieldhouse, Bozeman, Mont.
Records: Idaho 6-7 overall, 3-1 Big Sky Conference; Montana State 8-6 overall, 3-1 Big Sky Conference
Players: Idaho seniors Mikayla Ferenz and Taylor Pierce each played the entire game and combined for 48 points Saturday against Northern Colorado, but it wasnít enough to snag their fourth straight conference. The Vandals will try to get back on track against the Bobcats, who are paced by Claire Lundberg (18.9 ppg, 87-percent free-throw shooting).
Game themes: Four teams are tied for second in the Big Sky at 3-1, including the Vandals and Bobcats. Itís a long conference season, but a win here would put Idaho in a good position heading into a nine-day break before they travel to play the conferenceís other Montana school ó the Grizzlies of Missoula.
Carroll at Lewis-Clark State
Tipoff: 5:30 p.m. today, Activity Center, Lewiston
Records: Lewis-Clark State 13-2 overall, 3-1 Frontier Conference; Carroll 12-3 overall, 4-0 Frontier Conference
Players: Jossilyn Blackman leads the Warriors with 14.5 points per game while Hannah Dean leads the Saints with 14.3 points per game.
Game themes: Both of these teams are in the running for a Frontier Conference crown, and both have the commonality of being really quality defensive squads as well. The Saints are No. 5 in the NAIA in scoring defense per game (with opponents scoring just over 51 points per contest) while L-C ranks 13th (with foes averaging 57 points per game).