After scoring 62 on Saturday and picking up its first win at Weber State since 2007, the men’s basketball team returned home Thursday night and blew out visiting Southern Utah, scoring a season-high 93 points in the 93-78 victory.
The win marks the first time ISU (7-6, 2-0 BSC) has started 2-0 in Big Sky play since the 2013-14 season.
“It shouldn’t have been a two-point game,” said guard Jared Stutzman on the Weber win. “I say that with respect for Weber, but we were up ten with a minute left and we just didn’t make free throws. It felt like we were better tonight.”
On Saturday, the Bengals led Southern Utah (6-8, 0-3 BSC) for over 37 minutes and collected season-highs in points (93), field-goals made (30), field-goal percentage (58.8) and three-point attempts (23) while tying its season-low in attempted shots (51).
Five players registered double figures in points, as the Bengals completed two four-point plays in the first half from Stutzman and Balint Mocsan.
“It’s a boost,” Stutzman said. “When you see that one go down the next one is probably going to go in too.”
SUU shot 52 percent from the floor and 35 percent from three, scoring 42 first-half points.
“I don’t think we defended very well tonight,” said head coach Bill Evans. “The last seven-eight minutes we played our little matchup zone that everybody hates and they handed it to us about four or five times.”
ISU also made only 21 of its 32 free-throw attempts, something Stutzman says has to improve.
“We have to get better at it,” he said. “Getting to the free-throw line is the easiest way to score points.”
SUU pulled to within four multiple times in the second half, but an ISU 8-0 run over a two-minute span midway through the second half, put the game out of reach.
During that stretch, SUU, who turned the ball over 18 times which resulted in 32 ISU points, gave the ball away four times in three minutes, which enabled the quick ISU spurt.
“I told my guys for four days that Southern Utah is a really good offensive basketball team,” Evans said. “They have a lot of guys who can really shoot the ball, but they’re not as good defensively. They’re not, but they’re good offensively. Usually scoring 78 points is good enough to win, unless you are going to give up 93. That’s a lot of points for an Idaho State team.”
Brandon Boyd had a game-high 24 points, 16 of which came in the second half, while Stutzman scored 23 and Balint Mocsan added 15. Geno Luzcando chipped in 13 and Novak Topalovic scored 12 while the rest of the team combined for six points.
The offensive production was done without one of the team’s best passers in Kyle Ingram who missed Saturday’s game with an injury. Blake Truman, who started in Ingram’s place, played only 17 minutes, collected one rebound and attempted one shot.
“We miss Kyle,” Evans said. “There is no question about it. We miss him defensively as much as anything even though he can’t jump over a credit card. He can block shots, knows how to play, has a good understanding, is a good passer, so we really missed him.”
But even without Ingram’s passing presence, the Bengals still collected 14 assists off 21 made shots. ISU did this in most part, by skipping the ball out and around the perimeter when the defense, “sucked to Novak.”
“A lot of it was moving the ball well,” Boyd said. “We had a lot of assists tonight.”
By throwing the ball in the post to Topalovic, the Thunderbird’s defense collapsed around the 7-foot ISU center to try to prevent the easy bucket. Once that happened, Topalovic raised the ball to his chin and dished the ball back out to the three-point line to a waiting shooter.
“That opened up some things on the perimeter,” Evans said.
The win is ISU’s seventh in eight games after starting the year 0-5. The Bengal’s only loss over that span was an 85-71 loss at BYU.
“I think we played some really, really good teams our first five games, which obviously isn’t an excuse, but it doesn’t help the case either,” Stutzman said. “But we beat some really good teams on this winning streak. You have to be playing good to win seven-out-of-eight.”