Wildcats look to rebound from back-to-back losses up north

Jan 30 2013 - 7:04pm

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GRAND FORKS, N.D. -- At the midpoint of the Big Sky Conference season, the Wildcats have a long way left to go.

And Weber State (13-5, 8-2 Big Sky) has come a long way to get the second half started here, approximately 80 miles south of the Canadian border, against league newcomer North Dakota in a trip that would be 1,200 miles by bus.

Tipoff is at 7 p.m. at the Sioux Center in Weber State's second meeting with UND and first-ever trip to the Roughrider State.

WSU, which will play at Northern Colorado on Saturday to close out its four-game road trip, is trying to bounce back from back-to-back losses to Montana State and Montana that have dropped the Wildcats into second place behind the Grizzlies.

Flying to Grand Forks, N.D., and then Greeley, Colo., makes this likely the toughest travel trip of the season for WSU, which will have played eight of its first 12 conference games on the road after Saturday.

"We can't worry about all that stuff because everyone that goes over there (to Grand Forks) has to go through it," 'Cats coach Randy Rahe said. "You just have to get there and get yourself ready to go."

Despite an expected high temperature in Grand Forks of negative-11 degrees today, North Dakota (8-11. 5-5) is heating up, having won four of its last five Big Sky Conference games to move into a tie for fourth place.

Junior guard Troy Huff is leading the Big Sky in scoring during league games at 20.1 points per game.

Weber State hammered North Dakota 95-63 in Ogden on Jan. 5 in their first-ever meeting behind 22 points from junior center Kyle Tresnak, 20 points from junior guard Davion Berry and 19 points from senior guard Scott Bamforth. The 32-point win was WSU's largest margin of victory in four years in a Big Sky game, but things are trending up for UND since starting out 1-4 in conference play.

"At home, they play with a whole bunch of confidence. It will be a whole different team that we see at their place than what we saw over here a few weeks ago," Rahe said. "We're going to have to play extremely well and be ready for a dogfight."

North Dakota is creating matchup problems by going with a smaller lineup, playing 6-foot-3 guard Josh Schuler in the post.

"They've basically gone to a four-guard lineup and try to spread you out. They still ballscreen like crazy, but they try to put you in a bad way with four guards out there, playing off those ballscreens or drive it and pitch it. Their offense is basically the same, it's just the personnel has changed with how they're playing it," Rahe said.

North Dakota overcame a 22-point deficit on the road last Saturday to beat Northern Arizona 81-79.

Junior guard Aaron Anderson (14.0 ppg) did the most damage for UND in Ogden, scoring 23 points. Huff was just 3 for 14 from the field in that game but finished with 15 points by getting to the free throw line.

Huff's average of 18.8 ppg overall would lead the conference if he hadn't missed games earlier this year with a broken jaw. UND is 4-1 since returning him to the starting lineup after he spent time coming off the bench following the injury.

"He's a kid that can just score any way you can think of. He can shoot it from 3, he can drive the ball. He's very, very athletic, he's fearless and he can also get to the free throw line a lot, so he's just an absolute handful to guard," Rahe said.

 

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