| 03.20.2018

Back to basics — Idaho tightens up on efficiency


Efficiency was the name of the game for Idaho against Texas State, which is usually the case when Idaho is successful. The Vandals have been one of the more offensively efficient teams in the country earlier in the season, but have fallen out of that trend in their last five conference games. But Saturday in San Marcos the Vandals shot 55 percent from the field, went to the free throw line 31 times and scored just less than half of their points in the paint. Only 14 of Idaho’s 54 shots were from beyond the arc.
That’s a recipe for success for an Idaho team that isn’t going to have an athletic advantage against very many teams. Granted, Texas State is bad, but this was a road win that Idaho needed in the worst way, and if the Vandals have any chance at making some noise in the conference tournament this will be the type of game they will need to play.
Idaho, which is among the worst defensive teams in the conference, played well on the defensive end, forcing Texas State to turnover 15 times and lulling them in to many bad shots. Idaho defensively rebounded 29 of Texas State’s 35 missed shots.

Coming up
Next up is Senior Night against the Seattle Redhawks, whom Idaho hasn’t played since December. The results of the game will have no bearing on Idaho’s conference tournament seeding with the No. 6 seed wrapped up for the Vandals. Idaho will be scoreboard watching this weekend to find out if it will be playing New Mexico State, Denver or Texas-Arlington.

Kyle Barone – Five stars
Welcome back, sir. The senior was re-introduced as the focus of the offense after having some relatively quiet offensive nights. 26 points on 17 shot attempts and two free throws is just what the doctor ordered for Idaho coach Don Verlin.

Stephen Madison – Five stars
Madison is at his best when he’s attacking the basket and opening up opportunities for others, and he did just that. He scored 20 with the help of 12 free throw attempts and only missed on four shots on the afternoon. Madison is Idaho’s most dynamic scorer, and the Vandals need more of this in Vegas.

Mansa Habeeb – Three-and-a-half stars
Habeeb may have answered this critics who thought he’d be better suited to come off the bench. He did Mansa Habeeb things by attacking the basket and getting to the free throw line and adding perimeter defense. Still, he’s a turnover-prone player when he gets the ball in his hands often.

Connor Hill — Four stars
A career high for Hill with 22 points, more impressively it came on 5-7 shooting from beyond-the-arc. Hill tends to get streaky, but when he starts hitting he hits consistently. Hill also went 3-5 on shots inside the 3-point line, even more impressive.

Mike McChristian – Three stars
Not the best game from Mike McChristian, who was passive on the offensive end. But he was his same consistent self on the perimeter defensively and added five steals.

One star
Not a huge contribution from the bench. Point guard Robert Harris is the only player off the bench who played more than five minutes, and he didn’t even score. Wendell Faines is the only bench player to score, with two.

Sean Kramer can be reached at arg-sports@uidaho.edu

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