Rocky Mountain at Lewis-Clark State
Tipoff: 4 p.m today, Activity Center, Lewiston
Records: Lewis-Clark State 13-4 overall, 2-3 Frontier Conference; Rocky Mountain 12-5 overall, 3-2 Frontier Conference
Players: Lewis-Clark State’s Dana Abe leads L-C offensively with 14.9 points per game and ignites L-C offensively with his ability to post up smaller guards. The Battlin’ Bears’ Jared Samuelson averages 21.6 ppg, the No. 2 mark in the NAIA.
Game themes: The No. 10 Warriors nearly upset No. 3 Carroll College two days ago, but couldn’t contain the Saints’ Match Burnham. Burnham went off for 32 points — and the Warriors will face a similar puzzle tonight, with Rocky Mountain also leaning heavily upon one player offensively. Given L-C’s defensive identity this season, the Warriors don’t seem likely to let one player beat them two games in a row.
Washington State at Utah
Tipoff: 5 p.m. PST tonight, Jon M. Huntsman Center, Salt Lake City, Utah
Watch: Pac-12 Networks
Records: Washington State 7-8 overall, 0-2 Pac-12 Conference; Utah 7-8 overall, 1-2 Pac-12 Conference
Players: On Thursday at Colorado, Wazzu exhibited its present scoring handicap, in part because Robert Franks was again sidelined with a hip injury. Though the Cougs had Isaiah Wade and Viont’e Daniels at full ability — not to mention CJ Elleby and up-and-comer Marvin Cannon — there wasn’t sturdy enough basket security. And when WSU’s allowing points in waves, it’s easy to see much of the Cougs’ sharpness on the attack begin to dwindle. Via Twitter, Franks announced he won’t be on the road trip, so Wazzu must try to tough it out once more against Utah, which boasts a group similarly talented to Colorado (so it appears). The Utes are like the Cougs, too, in that they have a bit of an issue with turnovers and their losses are oftentimes highlighted by poor ball sharing, handling or passing — Utah has about 30 fewer takeaways than giveaways. Also like WSU, Utah is searching for another option to put up consistent numbers. Right now, it’s unclear who will protrude for either.
Game themes: They’ve got the same record, but it’s been nine years since the Cougars have toppled the Utes, and Utah’s bested WSU 16 straight times in Salt Lake City. Judging recent presentations, it’s fair to say Utah has a leg up on WSU (ESPN has the Utes with about 75 percent odds to win). In example: The Utes handled Arizona State by 10 just a week after the Sun Devils issued top-ranked Kansas a defeat. Really, neither troupe has been all too impressive, but Utah’s at least got a victory or two that it can truly hang its hat on. For Wazzu, well, a win tonight would be its most weighty.
Rocky Mountain at Lewis-Clark State
Tipoff: 2 p.m today, Activity Center, Lewiston
Records: Lewis-Clark State 13-3 overall, 3-2 Frontier Conference. Rocky Mountain 12-5 overall, 3-2 Frontier Conference
Players: Lewis-Clark State’s Jossilyn Blackman needs just three points to join the Warriors’ 1,000-point club, something she’ll almost certainly do tonight, given the fact that she averages 14.19 points per game. For the Battlin’ Bears from Billings, Mont., Alecia Chamberlin leads the way offensively with 12.94 ppg.
Game themes: The No. 16 Warriors played poorly offensively in their last outing — and yet, still had a chance to take down the NAIA’s No. 8 team. The Warriors went young in their lineup during crucial stretches against Carroll two days ago, and that lineup seemed to give L-C some much-needed energy. Don’t be surprised to see that again tonight. The main catalyst offensively for L-C during its fourth-quarter rally from 11 down against Carroll was Peyton Souvenir. She had a hand in all but two of the Warriors’ points as L-C nearly tied the game up late before running out of steam.