Weber State men's basketball returns for a pair of home contests this week as Big Sky conference play crosses the halfway point.
First is a rematch with Portland State on Thursday before the Wildcats (13-7, 7-2 Big Sky) play Sacramento State for the first time Saturday.
The Vikings (8-11, 3-5) come to Ogden as a known commodity and, like the last matchup with WSU, as a team riding some confidence.
PSU's first two-game homestand of conference play was welcomed as the Vikings defeated Eastern Washington and Idaho each by double digits. The Vikings bring their usual high-pressure, trapping defense that forces turnovers and hopes to speed up offenses into making mistakes.
Weber State hopes to have learned some lessons from its Jan. 12 trip to Portland, a 95-88 overtime win. The Wildcats fell behind 10-0 early in that game.
"When you play against that kind of style — they’re the only team in the league that does that, that plays that frenetic, full-court press, fast, aggressive, kind of crazy — you can’t simulate it in practice," WSU head coach Randy Rahe said. "Portland State’s the most athletic team in our league, that’s how they recruit.
"I told my staff we’d need five minutes or so to get used to the pace and used to the style, and hopefully we’ll hang in there long enough so that once we’re used to it, we can be effective. That’s kind of what happened. We fought through, finally made a few baskets and ... offensively, we played very well."
The Vikings also hold the nation's best offensive rebounding percentage.
"We did not guard them very well or as well as we need to rebound (Thursday)," Rahe said.
Sophomore guard Holland Woods (14.4 points, 5.3 assists per game) continues to lead PSU.
The Hornets (8-9, 2-6) are the last Big Sky opponent Weber State has yet to play and bring a different defensive style than Portland State, but one that produces similarly good results in steals, blocked shots and turnovers.
Those areas help Sacramento State hold opponents to an average of 68 points per game, even keeping Washington to 57 points earlier this season.
Guard Marcus Graves drives the engine. He's fourth in the Big Sky in scoring (16.1 points per game), averages conference bests in assists (5.5) and steals (2.0) per game, and throws in 5.1 rebounds per contest.
The Hornets are similarly poor to Portland State (26.4 percent) from the 3-point line (29.5 percent) and rely on their defense to keep games competitive.
Both games tip off at 7 p.m. at the Dee Events Center. Live streams will air on WatchBigSky.com and Pluto TV channel 235, with a radio call on 1430 AM KLO.
Weber State is repeating its ticket promotion for federal workers Thursday. Federal employees can get up to four free tickets with an ID. Thursday is also healthcare workers appreciation night, which gives two-for-one tickets for those with ID.
Saturday is military/veteran appreciation, providing two-for-one tickets for those with ID.