Idaho State kept its theme of rotating wins and losses intact Monday, with a 97-82 loss at Pepperdine.
The Bengals (2-3) have not won or lost consecutive games this season and look to get back to .500 on Thursday against Montana Western at Holt Arena. It is ISU’s final home game until Jan. 3, 2019.
LAST TIME OUT
ISU had one of its poorest defensive efforts this season, allowing Pepperdine to shoot 52.9 percent from the field, 42.1 percent from 3-point range and score 97 points. Pepperdine assisted on 25 of its 36 baskets and only committed three turnovers.
ISU’s last opponent to score at least 90 points while shooting at least 50 percent overall and 40 percent from the arc was Montana near the end of the 2016-17 season, when Idaho State went 5-26.
ISU ranks 326th out of 353 Division I teams in Ken Pomeroy’s adjusted defensive efficiency metrics, with 110.2 points allowed per 100 possessions. One of ISU’s prior opponents — Gonzaga — ranks third in adjusted offensive efficiency. But none of ISU’s other three D1 opponents — Boise State, Pepperdine and Pacific — carry an adjusted offensive efficiency ranking better than 140.
As of Tuesday, ISU ranked last in the Big Sky Conference with 86 points allowed per game. ISU ranks last in Division I with 1.247 points allowed per possession, according to teamrankings.com.
Once a hallmark of Bengals coach Bill Evans, ISU’s defense has regressed over the years. The Bengals gave up 64.3 ppg in Evans’ first season, but have allowed as many as 80.2 ppg in the seasons since — which have coincided with NCAA rule changes that favor offenses and Evans’ shift in focus to cash in on those changes.
BOYD PROVING SELF AS POINT GUARD
ISU redshirt junior guard Brandon Boyd has taken on full-time point guard duties this season, and so far has been a steady presence.
Boyd leads the Bengals and is seventh in the Big Sky with 3.8 assists per game, and has the league’s fifth-best assist-to-turnover ratio at 2.1.
Those numbers were higher before Monday’s loss, when Boyd had a season-low two assists and tied a season high with four turnovers. Boyd has had a positive assist-to-turnover ratio in four of five games this season, and has logged a pair of turnover-free outings.
SCOUTING MONTANA WESTERN
The Bulldogs (3-2) compete in the Frontier Conference of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA). The team ranks last in its conference in scoring at 80.8 ppg, and is fifth in the seven-team league with 67.2 ppg given up.
Senior Kooper Kidgell leads the team in scoring at 18.4 ppg, good for sixth in the conference, and adds 1.8 steals per game. Junior Cedric Boone scores 13.2 ppg and ranks fifth in the Frontier with 4.4 assists per game.
Montana Western played Big Sky Conference foe Montana State in an exhibition Oct. 30 — a 90-75 Bobcats win in Bozeman. Montana Western turned MSU over 20 times in the game, but also allowed the Bobcats to shoot 60 percent from the field.
Montana Western features two east Idaho connections. Junior Connor Burkhart is a 2016 graduate of Firth High School, where he won three 2A state titles and was named the 2A All-Idaho Player of the Year as a senior. The 6-foot-7 forward is averaging 6.0 points and 3.4 rebounds in 13.8 minutes per game for the Bulldogs, while shooting 70 percent from the floor (14 for 20).
Montana Western assistant coach Patrick Jensen returns to Pocatello on Thursday after spending the past three seasons on ISU’s staff as a graduate assistant coach and director of player development.
GAME INFO AND SERIES HISTORY
ISU owns a 57-3 all-time advantage in head-to-head matchups. The teams last faced off in 2014, and the Bengals’ last loss to Montana Western was during the 1933-34 season.