There were a lot of questions surrounding a young Idaho men’s basketball team entering the season. One of the questions was how the team would play in close games and how they would finish them.
While the results have been mixed, they have been getting their fair share of practice in close games.
The latest nail-biter for Idaho came in a 80-76 Saturday win over the UC Davis Aggies in Davis, Calif. The Vandals would trail by as many as 15 points in the contest against UC Davis, but sparked by a couple of 3-pointers from Glen Dean, the team would go on an 18-6 scoring run to end the game.
“I told the team, if we would buckle down defensively, we could get on a roll. We were actually playing pretty well offensively,” Idaho coach Don Verlin said. “The key stat is we got those 3-pointers down, they made six in the first half and one in the second, we were able to guard the 3-point line in the second half.”
Connor Hill led the team in scoring with a career-high 29 points. Hill enjoyed his best night shooting, going 7-9 from the 3-point line and 9-14 from the field.
“Connor has always shot it well in this building. What a great night for him. We kept getting him open looks,” Verlin said.
Stephen Madison wasn’t to be outdone though, as he pitched in with a double-double, where he had one more rebound than he did points, with 16 and 15 respectively.
Allen Jiles IV is a player who many thought wouldn’t see a whole lot of playing time this season. He’s a walk on transfer from Cal State-Northridge. He did, however, make his fourth appearance this season and made his mark on the game as well.
“Allen is a walk-on, doesn’t get to play a lot, he came in tonight when we were struggling and did exactly what he is coached to do,” Verlin said.
While the numbers don’t tell the whole story, Jiles IV ended the night with two points, two assists and a steal in 14 minutes of play. He made his difference in other areas of the game other than the stat sheet.
“He set a great screen for Connor Hill, he did exactly what he was supposed to do and I was so happy for him,” Verlin said.
The Vandals will have a full week of practice before welcoming their rival just west of the boarder — Washington State. The two teams will meet at 7 p.m. on Saturday, in the Cowan Spectrum.
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