Thursday, February 13, 2014

Some More Great Big Sky Finishes on Thursday Night

There were five more Big Sky games on Thursday night, which means that there was madness, and a ton of implications across the conference. Let's take a look at some of the biggest storylines and key takeaways.

- It looked like Northern Colorado and Montana had potential to be the best game of the night, and it lived up to the billing. Battling to keep at least a share of the second seed, they played a great game in Greeley, having to go to OT to settle it. Once there, it wasn't decided until Jordan Gregory missed a three in the closing moments, sealing the 89-86 win for UNC. It moves the Bears to 12-0 at home, snaps their four game losing streak, and snaps Montana's four game winning streak. Four players on each team scored in double figures, and Montana stayed in it despite allowing Northern Colorado to shoot 60% and grab 11 offensive rebounds.

- North Dakota was starting to look like they had an in on the second seed in the Big Sky... and then they promptly lost to Montana State at home in a game where they trailed by 20 in the second half, cut the lead to three, but could never get over the hump. As I said Monday, they have potentially the highest ceiling in the Big Sky, but also the lowest floor among the top teams, which they showed in this one. For the first half and the early part of the second half, they looked listless. While they got it together, they dug themselves too big of a hole. They spent too much time jacking threes (11/32), and not enough time attacking the basket.

- We have to obviously give credit to the Bobcats as well, who came up with a huge road win. They played one of their best offensive games of the year. They were nearly flawless from the free throw line (28/32), especially down the stretch when they put the game away. They consistently found Flavien Davis when he had a matchup edge, and were able to get big baskets from guys like Marcus Colbert and Antonio Biglow down the stretch. If MSU played like that every game, they could be conference contenders, but they always seem to lack consistency.

- Eastern Washington jumped out to a huge lead on Sacramento State, withheld a nice run by the Hornets, and still got the relatively big win, 85-72. Not to toot my own horn, but I did say they could score 85 in this game! The Hornets could not slow down EWU offensively, and that was the difference. Eastern Washington gets the big home win to move to 6-7, while the Hornets fall to 6-7.

- Not much to see as Weber State moved to 11-2 with a 75-55 win over Southern Utah (0-13). The TBirds cut the deficit to 6 early in the second half, but it was all Wildcats after that.

- In the nightcap, Northern Arizona got more heroics from freshman Kris Yanku, who had the game-winning follow to give the Lumberjacks the 65-63 road win over Portland State. It was Yanku's second game-winner in February, and moves the Jacks to 8-5, while dropping the Vikings to 6-7. It is time to take them more seriously in the Big Sky, and that goes for myself as well. That's not an easy thing to do, to go into Portland and get the win!

- Here is how things look after Thursday:

1. Weber State (11-2)
2. Northern Colorado, Northern Arizona (8-5)
4. Montana, North Dakota , Montana State (7-6)
7. Sacramento State, Eastern Washington, Portland State (6-7)
10. Idaho State (5-7)
11. Southern Utah (0-13)

As always, we are in for a great final month!

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