It was a strange night in the Big Sky. Suddenly, Weber State is in the driver's seat in the Big Sky, as they are now a game up on Northern Colorado, and the Bears still have to visit Ogden in February. Weber State held off Northern Arizona for a nice road win, while Northern Colorado got beat convincingly by Portland State, who jumped on them early and never looked back.
Here are some other thoughts from Thursday:
- North Dakota solidified themselves as a top three team with a nice road win over Eastern Washington. UND has always had the talent the win the conference, but they have really put things together the last couple of weeks. When they play patiently on offense, and are able to get multiple guys involved (as they have been), they are very tough to beat. Though they dug themselves a bit of a hole with 3 early losses, it's not out of the realm of possibility that it becomes a three team race.
- Meanwhile, it's back to the drawing board for EWU, who continues to get nothing from the bench (6 points on Thursday). As the team is currently constructed, if they are not hitting outside shots (especialyl Tyler Harvey), it's tough for them to score enough to win.
- Southern Utah gave Montana quite a scare, but the Grizzlies finished strong in the last two minutes to get a much-needed win. For Montana, Kareem Jamar scored 25, and Mario Dunn provided a nice spark in the second half, especially defensively. More words to come on Dunn in an article soon. More signs of progress are there for Southern Utah, and I think a win is near - maybe even this Saturday against Montana State. Heck, I'm going to go ahead and make the upset call - Southern Utah will get their first win on Saturday night.
- Don't look now, but Montana is not far off from being in the #4 spot in the Big Sky. There have been a lot of ups and downs, but they are in the mix there.
- Sacramento State showed that relegating them to the 10 spot is a little premature. They used a scorching first half to take down Idaho State, though the Bengals continued to battle and made things interesting late despite a 27 point deficit at one point. Dylan Garrity and Mikh McKinney each had big days for the Hornets, who hit a ton of free throws down the stretch to put the game away. It was another close road loss for Idaho State, who is now 4-5 and could use a win.
- I mentioned that Northern Colorado has been struggling defensively, but Portland State just bulldozed them in this game. PSU scored 1.33 PPP, shooting 20/34 on 2PA, and 9/19 from behind the arc, while turning it over just 8 times. For the Bears, Derrick Barden had 19 and 11 and was a beast on the offensive glass, but nobody else could get it going, as UNC was 2/15 from downtown. Two weeks ago, Northern Colorado looked like the favorite... now they have a tough road game against what will be a desperate Eastern Washington team, and a loss would put them in a huge hole in the conference.
- Also, don't look now, but Portland State is suddenly 5-4 and one of the hottest teams in the conference. It's time to take them seriously.
Anything else stand out?
Follow me on Twitter @bigskybball