Game 25: Idaho (9-15, 5-9) vs. RV/RV Louisiana Tech (22-3, 13-0)
When: Saturday, Feb. 16, 2013 (7:05 p.m. PT)
Where: Moscow, Idaho (Cowan Spectrum)
Radio: Vandal Radio Network/VandalXtra
Online Video: VandalXtra
Live Stats: www.GoVandals.com
A Look at Louisiana Tech
Louisiana Tech is receiving Top-25 votes in both major polls and enters Saturday’s game with a 22-3 overall record, a 13-0 WAC tally and a 14-game winning streak. The Bulldogs lead the WAC in league play with 71.1 points per game. They’re also tops in the WAC in 3-point field goal percentage defense (.278), turnover margin (+5.92) and offensive rebounds (13.38/gm). While LA Tech is 8th in the league in field goal shooting (.397), the team attempts nearly seven more shots per game than its opponents. Only one Bulldog player averages double-figure points, but seven players average 5.0 points or more so far this season and nine players average more than 14 minutes of playing time per game. The Bulldogs are 9-3 in road games this season.
Louisiana Tech Head Coach Michael White
Michael White is in his second season at Louisiana Tech, where he holds a 40-19 coaching record. He led the fifth-seeded Bulldogs to a pair of upsets in last year’s WAC Tournament, including knocking off top-seeded Nevada, before falling in the WAC Championship Game. Before coming to LA Tech, White spent seven seasons as an assistant coach at Mississippi, which he helped lead to four postseason berths and five SEC West titles.
It was a similar story for Idaho on Thursday against UT Arlington. The Vandals trailed early, but battled back within one possession late in the game. The Vandals got the stops they needed and protected possession, but couldn’t convert four open looks in the final 90 seconds of a 71-68 home loss. Seven of Idaho’s nine WAC losses were games that were within one possession in the final 90 seconds.
Vandals vs. Bulldogs
Louisiana Tech holds an 11-5 series lead against Idaho. The Vandal swept the season series for the first time last year and led for much of the game on Jan. 17 at Ruston, La., but the Bulldogs pulled out a 72-66 win. Idaho is 4-3 against Louisiana Tech in games played at the Cowan Spectrum and 3-1 since Vandal head coach Don Verlin took over in the 2008-09 season.
Finding the Touch
Junior Stephen Madison was a 38-percent shooter from 3-point range coming into the 2012-13 season. Through 23 games this season, though, Madison was hitting his long-range shots at just a 27-percent clip. On Feb. 14 against UT Arlington, Madison showed that he hasn’t lost the touch with a school-record-tying 5-of-5 performance from long range. In fact, Madison is shooting 9-of-14 (.643) over his last six games. His 3-point effort on Feb. 14 matched a 23-year-old school record for single-game 3-point percentage held by Mauro Gomes, who also went 5-of-5 from long range on Jan. 21, 1989, against Weber State.
Speaking of Stephen Madison, the junior forced seven turnovers on Feb. 14 against UT Arlington. He snatched a career-high and team season-high four steals in the game and also stepped in a drew three charges in the game - also a career high for him in a single game. Madison leads the team with six charges drawn this season.
WAC Long-Range Leader
He’s just a sophomore, but guard Connor Hill has no hesitation to take big shots - and make them. He leads the WAC in 3-pointers made per game (2.71) and in 3-point percentage (.458) this season. That percentage is good for sixth in the NCAA so far this season and is the best in the nation among Division I sophomores. The only time a WAC player led the league in both 3-point percentage and in total 3-point field goals made was 2007-08, when Jaycee Carroll (Utah State) made 114 long-range shots with a .498 percentage, but Carroll did not lead the league in 3-pointers made per game like Hill is in 2012-13.
On Feb. 14 against UT Arlington, senior center Kyle Barone hit two impressive standards at Idaho. Early in the second half, Barone grabbed his 800th career rebound, which makes him the second Vandal player to reach that tier, along with Deon Watson (1990-94). Watson holds Idaho’s school record with 877 career boards, while Barone is second at 804. Barone also notched his 500th career free throw attempt later in the same game. With 502 career FT attempts, he joins Chuck White (1960-63) as the second Vandal to earn 500 or more freebies in a career. White’s school record total of 531 free throw attempts is under pressure from Barone, who has 502 with five regular-season games and at least one WAC Tournament game to play.
Most Games Played
When senior center Kyle Barone steps on the court on Saturday, he’ll officially tie Ricardo Boyd’s school record for career games played. Boyd played in 121 games in a four-year career from 1987-91. Barone has played in every Idaho game since the 2009-10 season. Barone will break the record next Saturday at Idaho State when he makes his 122nd career appearance in an Idaho uniform.
Click on the PDF link above to view complete game notes.