January 18, 2013

Men’s Basketball Takes on Idaho State on Saturday

POCATELLO, Idaho – The Northern Arizona men's basketball team will look to get back in the win column Saturday against Idaho State at Holt Arena. The Lumberjacks tip off against the Bengals at 7:05 p.m.

Idaho State is 4-12 on the season but owns a 3-4 record in conference play.

"They are playing fantastic basketball," said Head Coach Jack Murphy. "They have won three out of their last four games and are playing the best they have all year. I am sure their confidence is sky high."

On Thursday, ISU beat Sacramento State 60-59 thanks to a last-second layup by Thomas Sanchez. He finished with a career high 22 points as he scored four points in the final 11 seconds of regulation. The Bengals also beat Northern Colorado at home and Southern Utah in Cedar City last week.

"They are a great defensive team and they are going to try and play at their own pace," said Murphy. "We have to impose our will offensively and defensively."

ISU is second in the conference behind Weber State in scoring defense at 61.8 points per game, while scoring at a conference-low 52.9 points.

"A lot of it comes down to execution on the defensive end," said Murphy. "Against Weber State we had that. If we have it again on Saturday then we should be able to give Idaho State a good challenge on their home floor."

NAU shot 50 percent against Weber State despite the Wildcats entering the game 18th in the country in field goal percentage defense. They also recorded a season-high 56.4 percent from the field against Portland State, shooting 50 percent or better in back-to-back games for the first time all season. Overall, they have shot 61-for-115 (.530) over the last two games.

"It is going to be important for us to go in there and play NAU basketball," said Murphy. "We have to play our game and come out of there with a victory and snap this conference losing streak."

The Lumberjacks have lost the last 12 Big Sky Conference regular season road games dating to a win at Sacramento State (2/26/11).

Idaho State leads the all-time series with the Lumberjacks 50-40 and boasts a 33-11 advantage in Pocatello. The Bengals have won the last three meetings. Outside of a 16-point loss in Pocatello last season, the two schools have played some close games lately. Four of the last five meetings have been decided by a total of 12 points with three of the games going into overtime. NAU has lost the last five meetings in Pocatello. The Lumberjacks' last win against the Bengals on the road came in 2007 with a 102-98 double overtime win.

The game will be broadcast on the Lumberjack Radio Network on 105.1 FM The Big Talker and online on the Big Talker website and The Big Talker mobile app. The game can also be seen on Big Sky TV.